Robert Parker, the man who almost single handedly moves the wine market, has spoken. He has rated Lafite 98-100 points. Wow. That is on the level of the 2005 vintage…
Yay! Now that the points are in, time for the market to work the rest.
The 2008 Lafite Rothschild is one of the most profound young wines I have ever tasted. From a taster’s perspective, it is reminiscent of a blend of the 1996 and 2003, but when you compare those vintages analytically, that makes no sense whatsoever. Representing only 40% of the production, this blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc boasts an opaque ruby/purple color (one of the darkest Lafites I have seen in 30 years) as well as an extraordinary, blockbuster aromatic profile of lead pencil shavings, forest floor, black fruits, licorice, and a hint of unsmoked, high-class cigar tobacco. In the mouth, a massive richness is accompanied by a freshness, delineation, nuance, delicacy, and mind-boggling density. Even after three decades of tasting, I am still astonished when tasting such a prodigious wine as this. Full, inky, and rich with creme de cassis and spice box characteristics as well as a length that I stopped measuring after a minute, the wine reveals a sweetness to the tannin and an opulence to the fruit that suggests a hot, sunny vintage, but again, that was not the case. There wasn’t a great deal of heat, but there was more sunshine than the negative press reported at the beginning of September. This is a great, great wine. The harvest at Lafite took place between October 1-7 for the Merlot grapes, the Cabernet Franc was picked in mid- October, and the Cabernet Sauvignon between October 7-14 – an unbelievably late harvest for this estate. This wine should evolve for 30-40 years and last 50 or more. As I have indicated before, Lafite’s second wine is now one of Bordeaux’s finest second wines, and is made very much in the Lafite style.
Interestingly, Lafite Rothschild’s manager, Charles Chevalier, told me there was not much flavor in the grapes in mid-September, but a month later, after four weeks of extraordinary weather, they believed something profound may have happened given the flavor development. Again, the historically long period between flowering and harvest, and very low yields are part of the secret to the great success of wines such as this.