The 2020 Lafon-Rochet showed as meaty and dry initially. But it was hinting at a lot of depth. Like every vintage I’ve had from Lafon-Rochet, I know this wine will prove to be a much better wine than its Cru classes and price point would let you believe. Lafon-Rochet is great for younger drinking, 5-7 years from release. But it is capable of aging for the long term if you have the patience.
Chateau Lafon-Rochet St-Estephe 4th Growth 2020 is sold En-Primeur. You order and pay now, to receive the En-Primeur pricing. You will receive the wine in mid-late 2023.
For many years, Lafon-Rochet has been one of my go-to Bordeaux for drinking, along with Lafleur Gazin and Langoa Barton. The Tesseron family have owned Chateau Lafon-Rochet since the 1960s. The Tesserons invested a lot of money and time into the run-down Lafon-Rochet estate, and now the wines are a gorgeous blend of juicy, silky open Bordeaux, but with the ability to improve with 7-15 years in the bottle. Their 41 hectares are broken into 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The Tesserons took ownership of Pontet Canet too and with time, took it to a new level of excellence with biodynamic viticulture and attention to detail.
Chateau Lafon-Rochet St-Estephe 4th Growth 2020 Wine Review
“I loved the 2020 Château Lafon-Rochet, a rich, powerful, concentrated Saint-Estèphe that stays beautifully balanced and elegant. Lots of pure cassis and darker currant fruits as well as tobacco, chocolate, and damp herb notes define the nose, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with plenty of mid-palate depth, building tannins, and a great finish. It’s going to take 7-8 years to hit the early stages of maturity, but it’s a brilliant wine. The blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, with an alcohol of 13.5 and a pH of 3.68. Tasted twice.”
Situated near the Atlantic coast of France. The Gironde, Dordogne and Garonne rivers provide its shape. Cool conditions and frequent rainfall, including during harvest time, make Bordeaux quite a marginal region with vintages frequently ruined by rain or saved from the rain at the last minute by timely sunshine.
The Northernmost appellation in the 1885 classification. The higher levels of clay make for denser wines with good fruit richness and plush palate. St-Estephe only has five classified growths, but it is a case of quality 0ver quantity.
The noble variety of Bordeaux’s left bank. Firm tannins, a streak of acidity and punctuated by flavours of cassis, violets, spice and leather. The best examples can age for the long term. Although Cabernet does often require blending with Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Shiraz to fix the hole it has in its middle palate.
It gets a tough time most of the places it is grown. But in Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, Merlot not only dominates but makes some of the best wines in the world. Perfume, silky and plush. Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon season the wines with structure and acid, but in some places, like Petrus, they are almost not needed.
Cabernet Franc is actually one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon… along with Sauvignon Blanc (oh! The name makes sense now!). It is most famous for being the third most important grape in quality Bordeaux. But also excels in the Loire Valley (where it lived before it went to Bordeaux), especially Chinon and Saumur. The wines are bright red in colour, highly aromatic with raspberries, rose petals, violets along with tobacco, cassis and some herbal elements. The best examples can live as long as any great wine.
Often the fifth wine on the depth chart of Bordeaux’s magical quintet. In the great years, it is an amazing variety to work with, but often in the great years, it is not needed. It can add body, structure and acidity but lacks some charm for a single variety wine. But in the hands of a skilful blender, it can really lift a wine, or in some cases, a particular site can make Petit Verdot sing a song like no other.
The land that so many New World (not European) wine producers look to emulate. To generalise about French wine, I would say it is savoury, lighter-bodied wines. They are the definition of elegant, complex. There are many styles, though. And there is a French wine for every palate. They lead the world in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy. Sparkling Wine in Champagne. Cabernet and Merlot in Bordeaux. Syrah(Shiraz) and Grenache in the Rhone Valley. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris in Alsace. Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley. Gamay in Beaujolais.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is pretty special. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product. This includes the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. This is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fun fact; most of the colour for wines comes from the skins. There are only a handful of grapes that have red juice. Alicante is the most well known of these grapes.
By macerating the juice on the skins, the wine gains tannins, and flavours. Certain compounds change the chemistry of the wine too.
Red wines tend to have higher alcohol. More tannin and more oak flavours compared to other styles of wine. But the thousands of grapes and terroirs they grow in influence this.
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I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.