“Because of its exceptional geographical location, its unique wine-growing site and its history, the Château d’Aussières is one of those wild and natural places that radiate great strength and beauty”. This observation by Baron Eric de Rothschild explains the crush that led the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) to revive one of the most beautiful and oldest estates in the Narbonnais. Acquired in 1999 by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), the 550 ha property has been the subject of a large-scale rehabilitation plan. The replanting program involved 167 ha of vines with a careful selection of traditional Languedoc grape varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan, supplemented with Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay. At the same time, the restoration of the building has been undertaken and new cellars have been completely refurbished in the old cellars of the estate, in the heart of the vineyard.
The 2004 Lafite-Rothschild appears to be another late-bloomer in the sense that this 12-year-old bottle is the best I have tasted, implying an upward swing in quality. It has a wondrous bouquet, very sensual and pure with blackberry, graphite and cedar – all the hallmarks of Pauillac, delivered with great panache. It is more opulent than I recall. The palate is medium-bodied with silky tannins, pitch-perfect acidity and a beautiful structure. There is a regal sense to this Lafite, understated compared to the other First Growths and yet the persistence on the finish deserves a round of applause, especially in the context of the vintage. This is superb and could possibly turn out to be the pick of the Firsts. Tasted September 2016. [95 Points, Neal Martin – February 2017, robertparker.com]