Château Lafite Rothschild
Traditional vinification and strict selection
The grapes of each plot are fermented in separate tanks in order to maintain identity and integrity of each parcel.
At Lafite, tradition and technical progress go hand in hand, but the technicians rely on their palates for deciding the date of the harvest, the fermentations, and running off times. Fermentation takes place in wooden vats where the musts macerate between 18 and 25 days.
Upon completion of the alcoholic fermentation, the cuvée-wines are tasted before being moved to barrels into the fine wine tanks. The free run juice and the pomace are separated and the pomace is pressed independently in order to extract the “press wine”. A second fermentation phase, called malolactic fermentation, takes place in vats before the wine is transferred into barrels by batches.
Note that in 2010, Lafite further refined its vinification procedures with the construction of two vat rooms consisting of several dozen smaller-sized tanks. A Merlot vat room (with concrete tanks ranging from 50 to 125 hl) in order to make wine with an extra level of care from all the various plots of Merlot. A divisional vat room (with stainless steel vats ranging from 30 to 70 hl) dedicated to malolactic fermentation (secondary fermentation) in order to continue plot selection all the way through the vinification process for any batches of Cabernet or Merlot that require it.
All of the barrels come from the Domaines cooperage, with a special "toasting" during manufacturing suited to the characteristics of the wine. Several tastings from each tank are made to ensure the quality of all of the wine. Blending takes place after the first racking of the barrels in March. Then the ageing phase of the wine begins in the cellar, which takes between 18 and 20 months. During this period, the cellar master racks regularly the wine in order to clarify it. Four to six lightly beaten egg whites are added to each barrel, which absorb floating particles and pull them down to the bottom of the barrel. The wine is then ready for bottling, which takes place in June.
The average production of Château Lafite Rothschild and its second wine, Carruades de Lafite, has been 45,000 cases per year over the last ten years.