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Chateau Lafon-Rochet

lafon-rochet.jpgA striking Château, located just off the main road and proximate to, and slightly inland of, two of the northern Médoc’s greatest properties - Lafite-Rothschild and Cos d’Estournel.  Acquired by the Tesseron family (from the Cognac region, who also own Pauillac fifth-growth Pontet-Canet) in 1959, it is fair to say there have historically been more ordinary or disappointing wines than impressive orgreat ones.  However more recent vintages (especially since the mid 1990s) have seen a string of delicious wines that at least represent the quality expected of a classified growth, and given the usually reasonable pricing policy, can often be considered great values.

Young Basile Tesseron has taken command here in recent times, and with a seemingly broad knowledge and lack of presumption, will hopefully gentle guide this property over the coming decades to, if not greatness, then certainly quality befitting Lafon-Rochet’s historical status.

Slightly more than 100 acres, or around 40 hectares are utilised at Lafon-Rochet, including a surprisingly large proportion (about 40%) of Merlot.  The remainder are Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (2%).  The vines are reasonably old (around 30 years on average) without being exceptionally so.  It is interesting to note that prior to the Tesseron purchase, the vineyards planted were substantially less (about 15 hectares) and entirely Merlot.  The vines are located proximate to Cos d’Estournel and Lafite-Rothschild (in fact on the same gravel mound as Cos).

It is no co-incidence that an increase in the amount of new oak used during the wine’s elevage, and more importantly the introduction of a second label for less-than perfect barrels, has seen a significant improvement in quality.  The construction of a new winery in 2000, including new vats, has no doubt also played a major role!  Certainly there is now an emphasis on the production of top quality wines that perhaps has not always been apparent.  Fermentation is undertaken in stainless steel vats, with a post-ferment maceration of about two weeks.  Malolactics occur both in tank and in barrel, where the wine ages for a little more than 18 months, half in new oak.  The wine is bottled fined and with a light filtration.

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