Chateau L’if St. Emilion Bordeaux, The Complete Guide

LIF St. Emilion

Learn everything about L’if St. Emilion with wine tasting notes and wine with food pairing tips. Learn the best vintages, a history of the property, and information on the vineyards and winemaking. If you want to read about other important, Bordeaux Chateaux: Links to all Bordeaux Wine Producer Profiles

L’If History, Overview

L’if was purchased by Jacques Thienpont in 2010. Jacques Thienpont is best known for owning the famous Pomerol estate, Le Pin. Le Pin takes its name from the lone pine tree on the property. As an homage to their Pomerol estate, Chateau L’if also found the inspiration for its name from a tree. Chateau L’if is loosely translated into the French word for Yew tree.

At the time of the purchase, when L’if was sold by Michel Boutet to Jacques Thienpont, the Right Bank property was called Chateau Le Haut-Plantey. Before that, the wines made at the chateau were sold under the name of Chateau La Bouygue.

The original purchase included about 5 hectares of vines. Since then, additional parcels have been purchased that have increased the size of the estate. Currently, L’if is managed by a cousin of Jacques Thienpont, the son of Nicolas Thienpont, Cyrille Thienpont.

L’If Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking

The 8 hectare St. Emilion vineyard of L’if is planted to 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. A small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon that was equal to about 1% of the vineyard has been removed. This is a continuing change in the vineyard makeup as there was a much higher planting of Cabernet Sauvignon in the past. YOu can expect a higher percentage of Cabernet Franc here in the future.

L’if is located just east of the Saint Emilion village, not far from Chateau Troplong Mondot or La Mondotte. A smaller portion of the vineyard is also situated in a valley, close to Chateau Lassegue, which is about a mile from the main vineyard. The terroir is chalky limestone with clay soils.

The vineyards for L’IF are divided into 14 separate parcels. Following the initial purchase of the estate, a lot of work went into the vineyard starting with the planting of a diverse array of grasses. Vines were replanted at higher densities.

It is the goal of the estate to eventually increase the amount of Cabernet Franc in the vineyards as well as to increase the vine density. It’s important to keep in mind, that as of 2014, portions of the vineyard are being replanted and some of the parcels are lying fallow, so production should be low until about 2020.

The vinification of L’if takes place in conical-shaped, temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats. Malolactic fermentation takes place in 50% new, French oak barrels.

The wine of L’if is then aged in 50% new, French oak barrels for an average of 12 to 16 months before bottling.

The best vintages of L’if are: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2012.

Production for the first few vintages is under 1,000 cases per year. This will increase when the remainder of the vineyard is planted and the vines are old enough to produce wine at the level the property is expecting.

When to Drink L’if, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time

L’if is much better with at least 10-15 years of aging in good vintages. Young vintages can be decanted for 1-2 hours or more. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume.

Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. L’if offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 10-30 years of age after the vintage.

Serving L’if with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips

L’if is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. L’if is best paired with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised, and grilled dishes.

L’if is also good when matched with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, mushrooms, and pasta.

While 2010 was released with the new name as coming from Jacques Thienpont, 2011 marked the debut vintage of Chateau L’if that was produced under the complete control of the Thienpont family.

Interestingly, at least in America, 2010 bottled using the spelling of the phonetic pronunciation of the wine, Chateau Leaf. The 2012 L’if was the debut vintage offered for sale as a future. The first few vintages did not include any Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend.

L’if is a stylish, sensuous, elegant new Saint Emilion wine that is well worth keeping your eye on. to It is hard to find, but it is truly worth the effort to try scoring a few bottles. Knowing the team and the vineyard, this is going to be a very in-demand wine.

L'if Wine Tasting Notes

9 Vintages 42,904 Views Sort by Vintage-Rating

2020 L'if  (St. Émilion) 98

Richly-textured, sensuous and silky, the wine opens with flowers, licorice, plums, spice box, roasted nuts and black, red and blue fruits. Opulent, fresh, long and velvety, the wine is refined, complex and concentrated. The fruit coats your palate, yet retains its freshness, lift, elegance and purity. The over 50 second finish leaves you with layers of vibrant, black and red fruits, savory herbs, minerality and spicy cocoa. This remains one of the new stars of St. Emilion and is a wine to follow before prices jump. The wine blends 84% Merlot with 16% Cabernet Franc, 14.8% ABV, pH 3.52. 97-99 Pts

2,858 Views   Tasted
2019 L'if  (St. Émilion Grand Cru) 97

Dark in color with a purple accent to the deep ruby color, the wine is lush, rich, full-bodied and opulently textured. The dark plums, chocolate, blackberry and boysenberry taste great and feel even better. Texturally the wine is plush, the tannins are velvety and the finish delivers layer after layer of dark red and black fruit. Give this between 7-10 years and you will have a very special treat here. The wine is produced from blending 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. 96-98 Pts

3,464 Views   Tasted
2018 L'if  (St. Émilion) 98

The attention seeking nose kicks off with an array of fresh picked flowers, leaves, spice, licorice, espresso, cherries, plums and blackberries. Rich, concentrated, full-bodied and fresh, the opulent, silky, graceful fruits offer layers of hedonistic thrills. The velvety, sensuously textured finish expresses purity, lift and length. With more Cabernet Franc in the blend, the wine requires more time to develop. It is highly likely that once this hits full maturity, in about a decade, this will earn an even higher score. The wine blends 74% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc. 98 Points

1,958 Views   Tasted

Full-bodied, lifted, juicy and graceful, the wine rolls over your palate like spun silk. The fruit shows a beautiful purity and vivacity. The cherries, boysenberries, spice and plums continue to resonate in the finish long after the wine has left the glass. With the addition of more Cabernet Franc in the blend and now that the vines are coming into their own, the wine has taken on more elegance and finesse in its style. Made from blending 74% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.55. 96-98 Pts

2,942 Views   Tasted
2017 L'if  (St. Émilion Grand Cru) 94

Truffle, licorice and ripe black cherries command your attention immediately. On the palate, the wine is supple in texture with a profundity of fruit and glossy, silk tannins that are impossible to overlook. With a touch of jam in the back note. Everything is in balance from the start all the way through to the plum, vanilla, chocolate and boysenberry filled finish. This is quite an accomplishment for the vintage. The wine is made from blending 91% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. The wine reached 14% alcohol with a pH of 3.51 94 Points

2,726 Views   Tasted
2016 L'if  (St. Émilion Grand Cru) 97

The wine is full-bodied and concentrated. But it's not a wine of power. Instead the wine lives through its purity, sensuality, length and opulence. The plum and cherry core of fruit expands on the palate and in the juicy, long finish. This is the final vintage made from 100% Merlot. 97 Points

2,648 Views   Tasted

Ruby-garnet with a brush of toner, the wine offers truffle, smoke, black raspberries and cherry liqueur, which I would consider a perfect start. From there this really launches as it melts into your palate. Elegance, sweetness, purity of fruit, length and finesse with a precision and refinement that is difficult to achieve. The finish sticks with you and the memory holds up. Made from 100% Merlot, the wine reached 14.3% alcohol with a pH of 3.38. The harvest was quick, taking place October 19 and 20. Only 400 cases were produced. 96 Points

4,200 Views   Tasted
2015 L'if  (St. Émilion Grand Cru) 99

The truffle, dark chocolate, espresso, smoke, licorice and red berry nose will keep you busy, until you're ready for what comes next. On the palate, this is off the charts. Pure hedonism, the wine is bottled decadence. Opulent, sensuous, rich and sexy, if you like the sensation of velvet textured, perfectly ripe fruits which must last close to 60 seconds on the palate, this is the wine for you. Sadly, it is going to be impossible to find as only 400 cases were produced. 99 Points

4,220 Views   Tasted

Pure, rich and sensuous with velvet tannins, dream-like intensity and perfectly ripe fruits, this wine has the feel of newly spun silk, the texture of cashmere and the purity of plums and cherries just picked off the vine. Not much is made as the production is only 400 cases -- give or take. With luck, there is only 399 cases remaining, as I want one! 97 Points

4,357 Views   Tasted
2014 L'if  (St. Émilion Grand Cru) 93

Licorice, truffle, smoke and tobacco with fully ripened red and black fruits, there is a real purity to the produce and a sensuality to the tannins that was very, very pleasing. This wine was produced with a blend of 91% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc and reached 14% alcohol.The wine will be aged in 50% new, French oak barrels. This is a wine to watch. 93-94 Pts

3,832 Views   Tasted
2013 L'if  (St. Émilion Grand Cru) 92

Produced using 100% Merlot, it's easy to see the licorice, black cherry and earthy scents. Medium bodied, soft and approachable, there is a good sense of sweet, ripe, kirsch with freshness from start to finish. 92 Points

2,557 Views   Tasted
2012 L'if  (St. Émilion Grand Cru) 95

Deep ruby in color, the wine is tightly wound at the moment requiring air and coaxing to reveal its complex nose of fresh herbs, flowers, thyme, truffles and dark red berries. On the palate, the wine is elegant, silky and refined, with a purity of fruit in the sexy, black, red and white cherry finish. There is good length in the end note. The style of the wine produced here is focused on elegance over power. While they took over the estate in 2010, this is only the second, official vintage for Jacques Thienpont, but the first year where they started to become satisfied with the results. 95 Points

7,142 Views   Tasted