Earlier this week, I visited Château Lafite Rothschild, in Pauillac, one of Bordeaux’s haute wineries (1st Classified Growth).
The number of times that I had imagined its interiors, as I peddled through the hillside and sprawling vineyard, or stopped to capture the moment, are countless.
As I feasted my eyes on the scenery, the magic began…
In the late 1700s, a Frankfurt-based Rothschild banker established a banking business that became international through his five sons living in Europe (arrows symbolizing the five dynasties established by the sons). In 1868, the head of the French branch of the family purchased the Pauillac estate.
The name Lafite comes from “la hite”, meaning hillock in Gascon. It is imagined that vineyards were already apparent in the 17th Century on the property.
The interior tour started with the definition of the landscape. My first time seeing the soil types by way of a tall glass sculpture. Getting a sense of the terroir.
We then descended into the cellar. The first of the three vat types was decorative – traditional wood. The family colors instill a personal touch.
The 2015 vintage is currently ageing in French oak barrels (manufactured onsite), in a room of whitewash walls, wood beam ceiling, concrete floor and chilling humidity. Artisanal and authentic.
The stone staircase (a.k.a. “Stairway to Heaven“) that led us to the house cellar – home to a 1797 vintage – is nearly a monument. The myth was at work. Iron gates and chandeliers. Dim lighting. The wine took over the space.
And the chateau visit was crowned by a candlelight tasting. Entering the rounded ageing cellar, designed by Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill, I imagined the gastronomic feasts that have perpetuated through conversations.
As I took my first sip of the 2007 vintage at 10AM (best time of the day to taste), at last, I understood how a golfer friend could on occasion prefer a good glass of Bordeaux and steak for breakfast, to baguette with coffee!
Tried it. Loved it. Shared it.
Additional special discoveries in the Medoc include, the annual September marathon, quaterly photo and art exhibits at Château Palmer (Margaux), strolling the grounds of Château Beychevelle (Saint-Julien), markets or lazing by the water elsewhere.