Château Lafite Rothschild was the start of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Group. Baron Eric de Rothschild brought a new spirit of growth and innovation and has acquired new estates in France and abroad. The Rothschild family is dedicated to producing all their wines with the highest quality made with finesse and elegance in the “Lafite Spirit”.
The Rothschild heritage is deeply rooted in Bordeaux. Here we explore five of DBR’s Bordeaux estates that embody the Lafite Spirit. Each estate brings unique and diverse elements to the DBR portfolio. Significant investments, changes and innovations have taken place in these estates with the Rothschild purchases, read on to learn more.
I had the opportunity to taste six wines from five Rothschild estates in Bordeaux with Olivier Tregoat, Technical Director of DBR (Lafite). The estates couldn’t be more different, and all because of a river wide enough to make the Bordeaux terroir tell dramatically different stories. Moulin de Duhart is your typical Left Bank wine, precise aromas of deep dark black fruits and cedar, arising from the magical gravelly soils you can only find in Pauillac.
Cross the River and Blason de L’Evangile tells a whole other story on the Right Bank, boasting about its aromas of opulent fruit, velvety tannins and fresh berries that can only be produced on the clay plots one finds nestled in Pomerol. Meanwhile, Château Paradis Casseuil sits on top of a hill in the Entre Deux Mers and takes the best of both worlds with a careful juicy blend and just the right amount of aging. “R” de Rieussec is that dry white wine you’ll enjoy with oysters because it has the right balance of richness and minerality, straight from the Sauternes Valley.
“R” de Rieussec Blanc Sec 2018 – $44
Château Rieussec was acquired by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) in 1984. The quality of the Rieussec soil earned its ranking as a first growth Sauternes and Barsac in 1855. The Rothschild family invested heavily into the estate, including meticulous sorting of the grapes, fermenting in barrels, and a new cellar was built. There are 227 acres as part of the Rieussec estate and the property neighbors the prestigious Château d’Yquem. Various soil types comprise the Rieussec property. At the bottom part of the vineyards, they grow the grapes for their dry white wine because the grapes do not botrytize here to make sweet wines.
The “R” de Rieussec Blanc Sec is an elegant dry white Bordeaux made from 54% Sémillon and 46% Sauvignon Blanc. It is a beautifully aromatic wine that is intense with notes of citrus and spice. On the palate, the wine is incredibly fresh with great body and texture with notes of pears and white flowers. There are toasty aromas, but the oak presence is well integrated. The wine is very approachable with nice length, balance and harmony. You want to drink this wine young, within 3-5 years. It is an excellent pairing with oysters and fresh fish.
Château Paradis Casseuil, Entre-deux-Mers 2017 – $28
Château Paradis Casseuil was purchased by the Rothschild family as part of the Riessuec property. The property is located half-hour by car from Rieussec on the right bank. The terroir is completely different, with limestone soils, overlooking the Garonne River surrounded by a beautiful oak forest. Château Paradis Casseuil holds its name from the land registry, where the main parcel of vines is known as “Les Vignes du Paradis” – vines of Paradise. The estate offers an elegant expression of Merlot, which is particularly suited to its chalky-clay and fossil-rich limestone soils. It is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon coming from well-exposed gravel slopes.
The quality of wines coming from this property has increased tremendously over the last couple of years. The vineyards are completely renovated and last year was the first year where they were 100% organic. The 2017 is 70% Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is an approachable wine with little oak presence. There are nice soft spicy notes with bright dark fruit. In the mouth, it is well-balanced, round and structured with soft tannins.
Château Odilon 2016, Haut-Médoc – $35
Château Odilon was acquired by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1979. He already owned the neighboring estates Châteaux Clarke and Malmaison. The Château was previously named Château Peyre-Lebade. The estate was renamed Château Odilon, in honor of the painter Odilon Redon who spent his childhood and most of his active life on the property. Many of his most famous paintings were inspired by the landscapes of the Médoc. Château Odilon vineyards are primarily limestone and clay-limestone soils. It is planted with a majority of Merlot, which is quite unique in the Médoc.
The wine has intense aromas of black fruit, orange blossom and spice. The palate is energetic and lively and is well balanced with creamy tannins. Elegance and finesse are the prime characteristics. This is a wine that has great potential to evolve with age.
Moulin de Duhart, Pauillac 2017 – $60
The Rothschild family purchased Château Duhart-Milon in 1962. The 1855 classification recognized the quality of Duhart-Milon’s terroir by ranking it as the only 4th growth wine in Pauillac. Prior to the Rothschild acquiring the property, Duhart-Milon was in a steady decline. Since the purchase by the Rothschild family, there has been a forty-year renovation project that started with major construction projects undertaken in the vineyard: draining, uprooting and replanting. New cellar and vat rooms were installed in Pauillac. The dedication and investments by the Rothschild family have restored Château Duhart-Milon to its Médoc 4th growth status.
The property was a natural addition to Rothschild’s portfolio as Duhart-Milon is Lafite’s neighboring property. The wines are captivating and of exceptional quality, as they are made by the same viticultural team as Château Lafite Rothschild. Both Châteaux use the same traditional techniques based on strict control of yields, harvesting by hand, and numerous manual tasks throughout the year.
Moulin de Duhart, Pauillac 2017 is the second label of the estate. The 2017 is a blend of 62% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon. The higher percentage of Merlot makes this wine more accessible in its youth. There is great vibrancy on the palate with dark fruit and spice. Delicate and silky, this is a beautiful, round, and well-balanced wine.
Blason de l’Evangile 2014, Pomerol – $75
Château L’ Évangile is one of Pomerol’s finest estate. In 1990, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) acquired L’Évangile from the Ducasse family. The property occupies a very strategic position. The vineyards are surrounded by legendary neighbors like Petrus and Cheval Blanc. The vineyard covers 54 acres, made up of sandy clay soil with pure gravel, on a subsoil containing iron residues.
The Blason de l’Evangile is the second label of the Château, 2014 was an excellent vintage for Evangile. The wine is a blend of 93% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc. There are nice aromatics on the nose with notes of dark fruit, vanilla and spice. The wine is full-bodied with firm tannins. There are earthy notes with dark fruit and cocoa on the palate. It is fresh upfront with a unique minerality on the finish. A wine that is bold and rich with nice potential to age.
Château de Cosse 2017 – $30
When in Bordeaux, you must finish with a sweet wine. Château de Cosse is the second label to Château Rieussec, selected from barrels with the same base as the “Grand Vin”. Its characteristics are very similar to the “Grand Vin”, but with shorter aging in barrels.
This luscious wine is a blend of 94% Sémillon, 3% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Muscadelle. A bright beautiful yellow hue glistens in the glass. The nose is intense with honeyed orange, peach, mango and white floral notes. The wine has an elegant texture with great volume. The palate is concentrated with citrus, mango, pineapples and spice. Nice bright freshness with a balanced finish make this a memorable wine. This Sauternes pair well with foie gras or dessert, but even better with a lighter pairing like fresh fruits.