Survival of the King’s Wine: Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Once heralded as the “wine of kings,” the Chateau Lafite Rothschild survived over two hundred years of calamity to make it onto the Ideal Wine Company product list.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Produced in the famous wine making village of Paulliac in Medoc, Bordeaux, the Chateau Lafite Rothschild is a world famous red wine. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grapes, Chateau Lafite Rothschild wines can fetch as much as $10,000 on the open market, having long been considered a luxury, high-end product.

Wine of kings

The first known reference to viticulture on the estate that now produces Chateau Lafite Rothschild wines goes back to 1234. The estate was revolutionised when it was bought by the Segur family, according to Lafite’s website, in the 17th Century. After this sale, it started to earn a prestigious reputation as one of the best wine making estates in Europe.

It soon reached the attention of Bordeaux governor, Maréchal de Richelieu. During a trip to Paris in 1755, Richelieu shared his fondness for Chateau Lafite Rothschild with Louis XV. He noted to the King that “I have found Château Lafite’s wine to be a delicious, generous cordial, comparable to the ambrosia of the Gods of Olympus.” After sampling the tipple Louis XV shared his opinion, and Chateau Lafite Rothschild became the must-have wine of the Versailles court.

Surviving through calamity

Throughout the next two centuries, Chateau Lafite Rothschild would prove that it’s as tenacious as it is delicious. Its first test came with the arrival of the “terror” of the French Revolution. In 1794 Nicolas Pierre de Pichard was brutally executed, ending the Segur family’s ownership of the estate. It went on sale and was bought by a Dutchman called Jena de Witt, who ensured Chateau Lafite Rothschild survived the Napoleonic Wars that followed.

Yet it was within the 19th and 20th Centuries where Chateau Lafite Rothschild would truly be put to the test. At the end of the 19th Century, Europe was hit by a phylloxera crisis that devastated vineyards across the continent; somehow Chateau Lafite Rothschild made it through. It went on to survive a serious case of mildew and the Great Depression, yet its biggest challenge came in 1940.

This was the year that Nazi Germany invaded France. The Medoc region was occupied and soldiers were stationed at the Chateau Lafite Rothschild estate throughout the war. The Nazis had a habit of taking what they wanted, no matter the cost. The estate was designated an agricultural vocational school in 1942; a measure which allowed it to see out the war relatively intact.

Buy the 1978

If you want to sample the ‘wine of kings,’ why don’t you try a bottle for yourself? You can buy the Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1978, a standout year, from the Ideal Wine Company today and indulge in a wine that outlived phylloxera, mildew, the Great Depression and even the Nazis!


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