Château Lafite Rothschild’s second wine has an excellent reputation, and quite rightly. Its name comes from the ‘plateau des carruades’, the parcels bordering Château Lafite that were acquired in 1985. The wine is made up mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon (up to 70% depending on the vintage), with Merlot (30-50%) and a hint of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Matured for 18-20 months in the barrels used for the previous year’s Château Lafite, the wine is incredibly concentrated. Its aromas are wonderfully complex. Very tannic in its youth, this cuvée has impressive body that gives it a long ageing potential. The quality of this wine overtakes a good number of the Médoc’s crus classés.
The history of the Lafite vineyard goes back a long way. In the late 17th century, Jacques de Ségur laid out vines on a vineyard which already contained some areas of vines and his wine was already of a good standard. His son, Alexandre, extended the Chateau Lafite Rothschild domaine when he married the Latour heiress in 1695. Their son, Nicolas-Alexandre, built up the prestige and reputation of Lafite in the 18th century and it was popular at Versailles, as well as in Britain. When he died, Lafite passed through a number of hands and was sold at auction during the French Revolution, but the high quality was preserved, due to the skills of the vineyard managers, Joseph Goudal and his family. Château Lafite was classified Premier cru in 1855. In 1868, Baron James de Rothschild bought the domaine at auction and it has remained in his family ever since. Quality is dictated by an exceptional terroir (a thick layer of gravel on marl, with a limestone subsoil) and also notably by the average age of the vines (over 40 years old), a low yield per hectare and very rigorous selection. In the years 1960-1970 the wines were of poorer quality as the management of the domaine and vinification process was less stringent.