Learn everything about Chateau Lafon Rochet St. Estephe Bordeaux Fourth Growth, wine producer, with wine tasting notes and wine with food pairing tips. Learn about the best vintages, a history of the property, information on the vineyards and winemaking. If you want to read about other Bordeaux wine producers: Links to all Bordeaux Wine Producer Profiles
Chateau Lafon Rochet History, Overview
What we know of today as Chateau Lafon Rochet in St. Estephe, dates back to the middle of the 17th century. The estate was founded In 1650, when Antoinette de Guillemotte, brought the land of Rochette as her dowry to her husband, Pierre de Lafon. Shortly after they were married, following the custom of the day, they renamed the estate, using their last name, coupled with the previous name of the property, Chateau Rochet, and Chateau Lafon Rochet was born.
While many Bordeaux vineyards were confiscated during the French Revolution, that did not happen to Lafon Rochet. In fact, the Left Bank estate remained the property of the same family for more than two centuries.
Chateau Lafon Rochet the Modern Age
Everything changed at Chateau Lafon Rochet in 1959 when Guy Tesseron purchased the estate. The property needed extensive work as it had fallen into a dilapidated state. The Tesseron family, under the direction of Guy Tesseron completely renovated Lafon Rochet from top to bottom. This was something that had to be done as most of the original buildings were in such bad shape, they could no longer be used.
The vineyard also needed extensive replanting. At the time of the purchase, the vineyard was only 17 hectares. Through replanting and subsequent purchases, the estate has more than doubled in size since the Tesseron family took control of the property. That marked the start of the modern era for Chateau Lafon Rochet.
Tesseron had his work cut out for him at his Medoc property in the 1960’s. The vineyards were as we mentioned in poor shape. Much of the land needed to be replanted in part, but the grape varieties that already existed in the vineyards were planted in the wrong types of soils for their varietal. The Merlot was in the gravel and the Cabernets were in the clay.
That is still slowly being corrected today, although currently, almost everything is as it should be. This explains why the wines are so much better today. Because the wine making facilities had also become dilapidated under the previous owners, Guy Tesseron was forced to build all new wine making facilities. Even the Chateau had to be replaced! In fact, Chateau Lafon Rochet is the only 1855 Classified growth with a new chateau that was constructed in the 20th century!
In 1999, after being in the Bordeaux wine trade for more than four decades, Michel Tesseron, took over the property and decided to change the classic style of the 18th century design that was created for the chateau. Michel Tesseron did it by adding some color to Lafon Rochet in 2000.
As you can see, the chateau of Lafon Rochet is now a bright, sunny, bold, Mediterranean shade of yellow. It’s an artistic statement according to Michel Tesseron. At the same time, the labels of Chateau Lafon Rochet were also changed to showcase the new, artistic, sun filled, yellow theme. Chateau Lafon Rochet is still in the Tesseron family hands. Currently the Saint Estephe property is ably managed by the son of Michel Terreron, Basile Tesseron.
It is Basile Tesseron who is helping usher Chateau Lafon Rochet into the modern age. Basile Tesseron, who started at the estate in 2007, after training with negociants, speaks perfect English, with a subtle accent. This is something he picked up while living in England.
Chateau Lafon Rochet Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking
The 41 hectare vineyard of Lafon Rochet is planted to 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. This shows a slight increase in their Cabernet Sauvignon plantings. On average, the vines are kept at 37 years of age. However, the estate has old vines. Their oldest parcels have Merlot vines that were planted all the way back in 1938.
The vineyard is planted to a vine density that ranges from 8,500 to 10,000 vines per hectare. However, newer plantings are done at 9,000 vines per hectare. As we mentioned previously, the vineyard of Lafon Rochet is in one large block that can be subdivided into 40 separate parcels. They have slopes and hills that rise to 26 meters in height.
The vineyard of Lafon Rochet is in almost one single, large parcel, which is unusual for the region, although the vineyard does make a few odd turns and angles to remain in its single block of vines. They have 38 hectares under vine. The vineyard was slightly reduced in size as they sold 3 hectares of vines. Their terroir is mostly gravel, clay, sand, limestone and marl soils.
Part of what makes their terroir unique is that some of the clay in their vineyards is the same type of hard, blue clay found in Pomerol at Petrus. Chateau Lafon Rochet has good neighbors. They are ideally placed not far from Chateau Cos dEstournel, Chateau Cos Labory and Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac. This places much of their vines in the south of the Saint Estephe appellation.
Lafon Rochet continues to experiment with biodynamic farming techniques. At least 10% of their vineyards have been farmed using those techniques, with more of their vineyards to follow, if they like the results. It is the possible goal to be 100% biodynamic by 2018, if everything proceeds to plan. Things turned around quickly here. In 2016, for the first time, they farmed 100% of their vines using organic farming methods. At Chateau Lafon Rochet, they take advantage of optical sorting techniques.
Chateau Lafon Rochet Wine Making
In 2015, Lafon Rochet completed a renovation and renovation of their cellars and vat rooms. This was a much needed improvement, as the cellars were more than 35 years old. The biggest change was to bring in all new, stainless steel tanks and concrete vats. The design and concrete vats were created by the same architect that designed the new cellars at Chateau Cheval Blanc, Christian de Portzamparc.
Where previously, the wine was vinified in all stainless steel, today, that takes place in stainless steel and cement. The new cement tanks at Lafon Rochet are stunningly beautiful to see, as well as being incredibly smooth to touch.
To more precisely vinify the 40 parcels, the estate now has a total of 42 vats that are a combination of 18 gleaming stainless steel tanks that range in size from 50 hectoliters up to 100 hectoliters and 24 concrete vats in a wide myriad of different shapes and sizes that go from as small as 50 hectoliters up to 190 hectoliters. 70% of the vinification now takes place in their new, concrete tanks, which is where the Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented. The remainder of the grape varieties, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are vinified in stainless steel.
Malolactic fermentation takes place in a combination of 50% in new oak barrels and the remaining 50% of the wine sees malolactic fermentation in tanks or vats. The wine of Chateau Lafon Rochet is then aged in 55% new, French oak barrels for 9 months before the wine is moved to one year old barrels, where it remains for an additional 9 months of aging before bottling.
The best vintages of Chateau Lafon Rochet are: 2016, 2014, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003 and 2000.
In 2012, in an continuing effort to make even better wine, Lafon Rochet made two significant moves. First, they hired the well known consultant Jean-Claude Berrouet, who is best for his work at Petrus to help with the wine making. They also used optical sorting technology for the first time. Speaking of first’s, Lafon Rochet became the first Bordeaux chateau to take part in the Google Street View Program, which allows online viewers the chance to see the entire estate in 3D. However, that is not only first for the estate.
At Chateau Lafon Rochet, they maintain a unique practice during the late winter months that combines wine with health. From November until March, the owner, Michel Tesseron, joins members of his team twice a week for 20 minutes of Tai Chi in their cellars.
On average, close to 10,000 cases of Chateau Lafon Rochet are produced each vintage. There are 2 second wines, Les Pelerins de Lafon Rochet and Les Secrets de Lafon Rochet. While the two second wines are identical, Les Secrets de Lafon Rochet is produced exclusively for export.
When to Drink Chateau Lafon Rochet, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time
Chateau Lafon Rochet can be enjoyed somewhat early. However, the wine is often better with at least a few years of bottle age. Of course that can vary slightly, depending on the vintage. Chateau Lafon Rochet is usually best enjoyed in the first 10-25 years of life. Young vintages can be decanted for 1-3 hours. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment.
Serving Chateau Lafon Rochet with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips
Chateau Lafon Rochet is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Lafon Rochet is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Lafon Rochet is also quite good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, mushrooms and pasta.
Château Lafon-Rochet Wine Tasting Notes
18 Vintages 79393 Views Sort by Vintage-Rating
|2016||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Sweet dark, blackberry, cassis, floral and forest scents lead you to a finesse-styled wine. Full bodied, polished, fresh and spicy with a nice shot of juicy cassis in the finish -- it sounds like a great evening to me. This wine has a serious concentration of flavor and a party pack assortment of dark red fruits in the finish. Produced from a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, the wine reached 13.6% alcohol.
Apr 29, 2017points - Tasted 1971 Views
|2015||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Showing better after its first year of barrel aging, the wine has put on weight,, and is showing a freshness to its bright, Cabernet Sauvignon leaning.
Jul 12, 2017points - Tasted 1325 Views
Dusty tannins, red and black fruit with a touch of herbs, cherries and thyme in the finish. This wine was made from a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, reaching 13.3% with a pH of 3.66. This is the first vintage made in their new cellars. The vats are stunning. They are worth the look if you are in the area. 88 - 90 Pts
Apr 19, 2016points - Tasted 3257 Views
|2014||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Could this be the best wine ever from Lafon Rochet? I think so! With its soft, supple textures, blast of ripe, sweet, black, dark red and blue fruit, coupled with its long, character filled finish, this was showing quite nicely indeed. Age will only improve this wine from here. The wine was produced from a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot.
Jan 31, 2017points - Tasted 2460 Views
Polished and lush with black raspberries and dark chocolate covered cherries in the nose, this wine has round tannins, ample concentration, sweetness and freshness. The wine was made from a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc, reaching 13.5% alcohol. 91-93 Pts
Apr 13, 2015points - Tasted 3044 Views
|2013||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Medium bodied, forward, with a fresh, light, red fruit and oaky personality that is already quite easy to drink.
Feb 7, 2016points - Tasted 1618 Views
Smoke, earth and dusty blackberry aromas, along with a light plum on the palate and an oaky finish, this will be best in its youth. 87-89 Pts
Apr 20, 2014points - Tasted 915 Views
|2012||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
With forest, tobacco and leaf aromas, along with scents of mocha, the palate offers cherry and cranberry sensations, but the finish is a bit too dry. 87-89 Pts
Apr 23, 2013points - Tasted 1620 Views
|2011||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Deep in color with coffee, smoke and black cherry scents. Ripe tannins and sweet, ripe black cherry and plums are found in the round finish. 88-90 Pts
Apr 8, 2012points - Tasted 2600 Views
|2010||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Smoke, licorice, jammy blackberry, espresso and earthy notes create the perfume. On the palate, the blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot offers true depth of flavors, a lot of tannin, acidity, sweet and tart fruits and the structure to age.
Feb 6, 2013points - Tasted 6075 Views
Deeply colored, the perfume offers black and blue fruits, gravel, smoke and tobacco scents. Full bodied, rich and tannic, this powerful sweet wine, ends with a melange of spicy black fruits with hints of fresh blueberries. 90-93 Pts
Apr 20, 2011points - Tasted 4578 Views
|2009||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Deep in color, with cedar wood, spice, blackberry and gravel scents, this medium/full bodied, tannic, masculine wine requires time before the ample tannins soften and everything comes together.
Jan 26, 2012points - Tasted 4951 Views
|2008||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
The firm tannins soften with 2 hours air, opening to a nose of tobacco, earth, blackberry and crushed rocks. One the palate, blackberries and cassis are aided by crisp freshness in the finish. The past few years of bottle age have added a lot to the wine.
Feb 10, 2014points - Tasted 3176 Views
|2007||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
The debut vintage for the young Basile Tesseron, the wine is developed with forest, tobacco, plum and old wood characteristics. Medium bodied, soft and light in fruit, this requires drinking sooner than later to grab the remainder of the fruit.
Mar 30, 2017points - Tasted 1263 Views
|2006||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Showing some maturity in the color, the wine offers cedar, tobacco, minerality and red fruits. The wine is developed, offering fine drinking today, with its fresh, sweet, medium bodied, red fruit character. The wine was produced from a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
May 25, 2016points - Tasted 4251 Views
Spice, earth, truffle, cranberry and cassis aromas pair well the medium bodied, soft, forward, wine that drinks well early.
Aug 5, 2012points - Tasted 4099 Views
|2005||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
This wine remains stubbornly tannic. With a few hours in the decanter, the wine offered black fruits, tobacco, cassis and gravel, but the tannins were intrusive and hard. This wine seems like it was cut from the same cloth as a 1986 Bordeaux. It's still young. It might soften in a decade. But it will always be a very tannic wine. 2009 and 2010 are both better vintages for this St. Estephe chateau.
Jul 9, 2011points - Tasted 6624 Views
|2004||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Medium bodied with sweet and tart red fruits, soft textures and some green notes in the crisp finish.
Jan 4, 2015points - Tasted 2561 Views
|2003||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Starting to lose its fruit, the wine has taken on more of a tart, sweet and sour, red berry character on the palate. I’d opt for drinking this sooner than later.
Dec 18, 2013points - Tasted 3013 Views
2003 is such a great vintage for St. Estephe! Almost every producer from top to bottom made great wine and Lafon Rochet is no exception. With its nose of stone, tobacco, roasted dark berries, licorice and earth, this medium/full bodied Bordeaux wine is already giving pleasure. The wine ends with a round, fleshy textured black and red fruit filled finish.
Oct 1, 2011points - Tasted 5504 Views
|2001||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Fully mature, medium bodied wine that is more interesting on the tobacco, plum and earthy nose, than on the palate, with its sweet and tart berries and austere, crisp, cranberry and cassis finish.
Mar 10, 2016points - Tasted 2599 Views
|2000||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
A bargain when it was first offered, the wine attracts your attention with its earthy, tobacco, plum, forest and spicy black cherry nose. Good concentration and a long, fresh, blackberry finish are the hallmarks of this wine. It's just starting to open, soften and come together. This should drink well for at least another 12 to 15 years.
Jan 19, 2013points - Tasted 4170 Views
|1996||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Fully mature, with an attractive, tobacco, cedar chest, spice and cherry tobacco nose. Medium bodied, and better on the palate than with its stern character, this is ready for prime time consumption and will probably be at its best over the next 3-5 years.
Jan 2, 2015points - Tasted 2797 Views
|1990||Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estèphe)|
Fully mature, with a complex, secondary nose of tobacco, stone, cigar box, black cherry, earth and spice. Medium bodied, with some rusticity in the tannins, this is at peak, or slightly past showing its best.
Jul 29, 2013points - Tasted 4922 Views