A visit from Domaines Barons de Rothschild

This week we were honoured to host our long standing partner Domaines Barons de Rothschild‘s commercial director Jean-Sebastien Philippe for a very special tasting….

It is not every day that one has the opportunity to taste a line up of wines from all of DBR’s Bordeaux properties; in fact even individual tastings rarely take place outside of Bordeaux, so we were thrilled that as a close partner we were treated to this intimate look at the stories behind these great Chateaux.

Usually, and understandably, the house’s philosophy is very much to treat each property separately and not piggy back on Lafite’s universal fame and success when presenting Duhart Milon, L’Evangile and Rieussec. These are more than capable of standing alone, but in this context they also sing beautifully in harmony, proving each of their very special place in the DBR orchestra.

So we are allowing ourselves to highlight some of our favourites from the range that we tasted:

Pomerol property L’Evangile is blossoming under the renewed care and investment of the family, and especially the affection of Saskia Rothschild, for whom its more boutique, feminine and natural sentimentality makes it a spiritual home. Blessed with amazing terroir (positioned between Petrus, La Conseillante and Cheval Blanc), in recent vintages the team have been reducing the percentage of new oak and seeking a more precise, elegant style. The 2016 L’Evangile is a captivating young wine, with luxurious milk chocolate silkiness from the higher proportion of Merlot than in most vintages, beautifully balanced by tart fruit and savoury, bitter pencil shavings.

Pauillac property Duhart Milon is most intimately connected to Chateau Lafite Rothschild, with its vineyards running along the west side of Lafite on the Milon hillside. The technical team is shared between the two properties, under the oversight of technical director Eric Kohler, and for both properties the team pursue a gentle extraction to make elegant, balanced wines. Its individuality comes from the higher proportion of Merlot, which adds a level of approachability in youth. The 2012 Duhart Milon was showing beautifully: supremely elegant, with complex savoury depth and a glossy texture.

From Chateau Lafite, Carruades needs little introduction. The second wine, universally loved for providing access to Lafite fruit at a fraction of the price, the 2016 Carruades de Lafite impressed us as a classic Pauillac, with sweet cherry and cassis mingling with dark graphite and liquorice. The 1996 Lafite easily lived up to, and even exceeded, expectations. Perfect in its distinguished charm, sultry and dark, soy, seaweed, ash and smoke, but also sweet caramelised meat and berry fruit, and youthful fresh acidity. Simply wow.

Tasting both the Carmes de Rieussec and Rieussec from Chateau Rieussec in Sauternes reinforced not only how fantastically serious and ageworthy top Sauternes can be, but also how fresh, versatile and relevant, in the case of Carmes. The 2013 Carmes de Rieussec was in a gorgeous sweet spot: all honeysuckle, apricot and marmalade, refreshing but luxurious, and elicited enthusiastic exchanges of drinking ideas for the hotter months – who said Sauternes is for only Christmas? The 2007 Rieussec is however, a seriously stunning, meditative wine and what you would expect from a top notch Sauternes at this age: sophisticated and complex with amazing balance and tension.

There are great developments going on at these properties, and the spirit of openness and inclusivity with which DBR are approaching this new era is truly exciting, and something we are thrilled to be a part of and to share with all of you.