Château Lafon-Rochet: Tasting & Drinking

I think Château Lafon-Rochet produced, from the 1990s onwards, good value wines with plenty of structure, flavour and appeal. It did not at that time rival its near neighbours Château Cos d’Estournel and Château Lafite-Rothschild (the vines of which are mostly in Pauillac on the other side of the Jalle du Breuil, but there is a 4.5-hectare parcel next to Lafon-Rochet) in terms of sheer quality, despite being located on the same gravel mound as the former. But this is perhaps not surprising, and we should not judge the property against such Bordeaux greats.

Since the 1990s, under Michel and then Basile Tesseron, Château Lafon-Rochet offered ever-increasing quality while remaining excellent value for money, the style richly flavoursome, dark, sometimes brooding, sometimes spicy, the style surely reflecting in part the combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and that blue clay. It performed very consistently, regularly putting on a good show in vintages as diverse as 1996, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Looking back to recent vintages, favourites include splendid barrel samples in 2020 and 2019, with excellent results in 2018, 2016 and 2014. I was also (to my surprise) quite impressed by the 2012 vintage, so it would be interesting to revisit this to see how it has performed since. Looking further back, favourable growing seasons in 2009 and 2010 also produced fine results. Further back in time, I rated 2005 and 2000 highly, and of course the 1996 vintage, long a favourite of mine on the left bank. The 2003 was a good result for the vintage, but it sits with the ‘also-rans’, decent but not noteworthy wines from lesser years such as 2017, 2015 and 2011. It should go without saying, but don’t bother with 2013.

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