Read for you by Donatella Cinelli Colombini
The Rothschild dynasty begins in 1744, with the birth of Mayer Amschel in the Frankfurt ghetto, he was the one who created the bank and sent is five sons to the five European financial centres creating a formidable business network. During the nineteenth century, when at the apex, the Rothschild’s owned the largest private patrimony in the world, as well as the largest heritage in the world.
The two French branches of the family own two of the most famous and celebrates vineyards, the branch that the founder had originally sent to France bought Chateau Lafite, the other, descendant of the British Rothschild’s, bought Château Moutona Pauillac.
Today the Rothschild group is one of the largest private financial groups in the
world with branches in 42 nations, an enormous influence on the planet’s economy, great art collections, but nothing makes them as proud and envied as the wines from their vineyards.
Here we will tell you about Chateau Lafite the fairytale castle which has as symbol the Rothschild crest with a fist over five arrows which signify the 5 dynasties created by the Mayer Amschel’s 5 sons in the European hearts of finance and the reference to the Psalm 127 from the bible: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior”. The Rothschild’s are in fact Jewish.
The name Lafite comes in fact from the dialect “La Hite” which means “barrel” which is a clue regarding the very old and probably medieval tradition in winemaking in that region. What is certain on the other hand is that in 1670 some vineyards were planted and that Lafite, already in the eighteenth century was known as << the best
vineyard in the universe>> and its unbeatable wines were served at the tables of the French English royal families and even at the table of the first Us Presidents. From the French revolution onwards there were changes in ownership time and time again until on the 8th of August 1868 the Baron James de Rothschild bought Château Lafite. In 1855 with the Universal exposition in Paris, Lafite was proclaimed « premier des premiers crus».
Another stormy period arrives with the German occupation during the Second World War when Lafite, owned by Jews, is confiscated and successively used a san agricultural
school. The Rothschild’s regain ownership only in 1945 and rapidly they bring it back to its old splendour. Today the head of this dream of a winery is Eric de Rothschild, a rich and smiley baron. He speaks excellent English, he’s a handsome man, impeccably well dressed, and, in wine he has a great nose for quality but also for good business.
Let us know enter this incredible estate so as to discover some small secrets: 112 hectares of Vineyard with an average age of 39 years, but three are also centenary vineyards such as the one planted in 1886. The great wines are all obtained from vines that are over 45 years of age.
70% of the vineyards are planted with Cabernet, then 25% of Merlot and a little Cabernet franc and Petit verdot. All the allotments are vinified separately and after the fermentation in stainless steel the wine is moved into concrete vats so that they are still kept separated, but the interesting part come now: Lafite has an inside tonnellerie so as to produce his own barriques and mainly so as to char them in the best way for the wine that they are going to contain. The circular barrel ageing area is a masterpiece in architecture and resembles a Roman baptistery.
Lafite is the first but not the only winery belonging to the Baron Eric de
Rothschild. Since 1962 the Groupe DBR – Domaines Barons de Rothschild- has become even larger with successive acquisition so as to reach the present 1.200 hectares of vineyard all over the world. He can well say like the Emperor Charles V << on my empire the sun never sets>>: Château Duhart-Milon in Pauillac, Château Rieussec (1er Grand Cru Classé del Sauternes) and Château L’Évangile in Pomerol, Viña Los Vascos in Chile, Domaine d’Aussières in Languedoc, Bodegas Caro in Argentina and finally the Chinese vineyard in the Penglaï region which has been growing since 2008.
In other words in the Baron Eric’s portfolio there are bottles for great and small dreams, those for millionaires and those for supermarkets.
But let’s talk again about the most prestigious ones. As a guarantee against frauds every bottle of Chateau Lafite has on the capsule an alphanumerical code, which when searched for on the website, permits the buyer to verify the authenticity of the bottle.
The most famous wine is Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1° cru classé Pauillac. Would you like to know how much it costs? In consulting Wine Searcher we se that the 2012 is available at 350-450€ per bottle, the price goes up for the 2011 and 2010 vintages and then sits stable under the thousand euro but here are bottles that cost as much as 135.299$. Would you like to buy some?