1986 Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Wine Tasting Note

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1986 Château Lafite Rothschild  (Pauillac) 97

If awards were given out for slow to develop wines, clearly this is a contender for the trophy. With coaxing, the leafy herbs, tobacco leaf, cedar, gravel, cigar box and cassis come to the surface. Medium/full-bodied, with a reserved red fruit character, there is an old-school, herbal accent to the spicy red fruits in the finish. I am not sure when this will hit full-maturity, but I feel the pain of anyone that purchased this as a future or on release.

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Power, intensity, waves of ripe, black fruits all backed up by a wall of tannin, this is a stunner. It has everything a wine needs for magnificence. All that is missing is cold cellar and a patient owner because the wine at close to 35 years of age still needs at least another decade to come around. Perhaps the wine will hit its prime time drinking window by its 50th birthday. They do not make the like they used to. Which is a good thing, as I feel sorry for consumers that bought this as a Future for drinking in their lifetime.

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Time has been kind here. Yes, there is a bit of a strict presence, but the wine is also refined, elegant and complex. It's not flashy or powerful, but it is aromatic, with grace, a regal quality to the fruit, length and charm. My guess is the wine will be even better in 10-20 or more years, and it's quite good today!

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OK, so it took 30 years to come around, which is not going to work for today's consumers, but it was worth the wait. Double decanted 5 hours, give or take, the wine showed elegance, classy fruit, vibrancy, energy and and layers of sweet, ripe, refined, pure, red fruits, spice, tobacco, earth and cedar wood. The long finish stuck with you. If you're sitting on well stored bottles, there is no hurry to pop a cork as this is easily a 100 year wine. On the other hand, if you have a bottle and want to check it, it's a good time to see what this is made of.

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Firm, structured, tannic and concentrated, the wine is still young as it approaches its 30th birthday. 4 hours of helped open the nose, but as you might expect, there was a bit of hardness to the tannins and a sensation of rusticity on the palate in the finish. Another 5 years or more are needed for this to come around. This must have been similar to what tasters experienced with the 1928 in its day. I wonder how many collectors gave up in frustration.

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Finally, a bottle that was not about potential, but pleasure. At close to 30 years of age, there is light at the end of the tunnel. With a few hours of air, the wine delivered that special, aged Bordeaux character in all its cassis, gravel, earth, lead pencil, smoke, tobacco, truffle and cedar chest glory. The tannins felt nice in the long finish. Not quite at the level of the sublime 1986 Mouton Rothschild, but this is a very, very good wine.

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Deep ruby in color. Initially, the nose required coaxing before a cornucopia of scents grew from the glass. Spice, soy, leather, Cuban tobacco, smoke, minerals, truffle, cassis and blackberry were easy to find. At 2 hours, the wine felt hard and austere in the mouth. The tannins were obtrusive. But one hour later, the magic happened. The tannins fell off and a wave of deep, plush fruit enveloped my palate. This wine is intensely concentrated, powerful and opulent. Yet the finesse of the fruit is what you sense. The finish lingers on your palate for almost 60 seconds! Still young, another 10 years will allow additional levels of complexity to build

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Decanted for 6 hours, the wine showed tobacco, cassis, smoke, lead pencil, spice, forest floor and ash in the perfume. This is a structured, powerful, concentrated Pauillac with a refined masculine personaltiy.Think Cary Grant. There is still tannin that needs to be resolved. The spicy cassis and blackberry filled finish remains for over one minute. This will be a rock star when fully mature, but it's going to take another decade before that happens.

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Decanted at 9am and served after 9pm, the wine remains young. Still tannin, but the tannins are round as well as held in check by gobs of ripe, rich, Cabernet. Very concentrated and intense, combining cassis, cedar, tobacco, truffle, spice, earth and dark cherry, pipe tobacco. This is a serious, structured wine that sits between old school style and modern charm. IMO, it's better than the 82 Lafite and sells for less than half the price. However this will not mature until at least 2020!

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With a high neck filland a spinning capsule, I double decanted the wine at noon and we began tasting it at 9:30. From the first moment the wine hits your glass, you know you’re in the presence of greatness. Intense levels of black fruit, tobacco, cedar and cassis leap from the glass. The wine fills every nook and cranny of your palate senses. There is a serious backbone and structure to the wine. But, the tannins are not obtrusive. The finish seems endless and lasts well over a minute! I kept some in my glass and worked on it until the end of the night… about 1:30am. It continued expanding and improving in the glass. At this point, I prefer it to the more expensive and exalted 82 Lafite. It reminds me of 86 Mouton as far as levels of concentration. But, it currently offers more pleasure. This is truly a great wine. Not yet mature, it will need at least another 10 years before it really shows all its charms. It will probably keep evolving at least another 50 years after that!

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This opaque, inky colored wine offered a show boat perfume of cedar, soy, leather, cassis and smoke. Huge, hulking concentrated, dense and complex. This massive wine reminds me of a perfectly balanced elephant on a tight rope! Amazingly young and tannic, this is the Lafite to buy.

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Backwards and in need of air and additional bottle age, this powerful, cassis and cedar filled wine offers great potential for people with patience. Amazing purity of fruit, but oh so tannic. This should come around by 2016.

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The color is still almost opaque with barley any lightening around the edges. Cassis, wood, lead pencil, truffle, smoke and spices make a beautiful perfume. The wine has an enormous mouth feel. But it’s so well balanced, it’s well, perfect. This is still very tannic and demands at least 10-15 more years before it’s mature. This is a big, brawny style of Bordeaux that is also refined. Amazing in its own way.

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86 Lafite shared many similarities with the 86 Mouton. While not quite as black in color, or as concentrated, it was close. Even with double decanting for hours it remained tight. Cassis, minerals, tobacco and truffle came out with coaxing. While concentrated with ripe, elegant fruit, this tannic wine requires time before strutting its ample stuff.

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Chateau Lafite Rothschild Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

When to Drink Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time

Chateau Lafite Rothschild is not a wine to drink on the young side. The wine is usually far too tannic, and reserved in its youth. Young vintages can be decanted for an average of 3-6 hours, give or take. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume.

Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Chateau Lafite Rothschild is usually better with at least 15 years of bottle age. Of course that can vary slightly, depending on the vintage character. Chateau Lafite Rothschild offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 15 and 60 years of age after the vintage.

Serving Chateau Lafite Rothschild with Wine and Food Pairings

Chateau Lafite Rothschild is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild is best paired with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Chateau Lafite Rothschild is also good when matched with Asian dishes, rich fish courses like tuna, salmon, mushrooms and pasta.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild is the most elegantly styled of the three First Growths from Pauillac. But do not confuse the term elegant with light. Chateau Lafite is perhaps the most aromatic of the First Growths as well, with a perfume that fills the air with cedar, cassis, spice, tobacco, truffle, lead pencil, dark, red berries and earthy notes.

In the best vintages, the wine requires decades to develop to its full potential. Trust me on this, it is worth the wait!

Lafite Rothschild is also involved in several diverse wine investments in countries outside of France. Vina Los Vascos in Chile, was their first venture outside of Bordeaux, where they make several red and white wines primarily from Coloagua Chile.

In 1999, they joint ventured with the Catena family in Mendoza, Argentina to produce Bodegas Caro.

Continuing to expand, in 1999, they purchased Domaine d’Aussieres in the Languedoc-Roussillon appellation, located just below the Southern Rhone Valley. Their first move in Asia came in 2011 when they planted vines in the Penglai Peninsula in the Shandong Province in China. The vineyards were planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Since 1995, the DBR group has also produced "The Collection," which is a serious of generic, low priced wines from various Bordeaux appellations sold under the name of Legende.

www.lafite.com