Tasting with Baron Eric de Rothschild

A great way to learn about a wine is to meet the owner of a winery who is involved in every aspect of producing the wine, from selecting the vines, to determining the use of the land, to giving the go-ahead for harvesting, to tasting, tasting and tasting.   And when this person is Baron Eric de Rothschild of the famous Bordeaux winery Chateau Lafite, it’s a very interesting learning experience indeed.

Lafite is one of the leading wines in the world, sought after by wine connoisseurs.   In 2012 in France, a bottle of Chateua Lafite Pauillac grand cru reached the price of 936 Euros, or roughly $1300.  Wisely, the company has used its great reputation to create a collection of wines under the umbrella of Domaines Barons de Rothschild.   Since 1974, they have moved from producing wine at only one Bordeaux Chateau to several Bordeaux Chateaux, acquired an estate in Chile, entered into a partnership in Argentina, acquired a property in the Languedoc region of South France, and are looking at producing in China too. 
At the Agribusiness Seminar at Harvard Business School in January, Baron Eric selected three wines for our group’s dinner, all readily available.

 2008 Bordeaux, Chateau Duhart-Milon, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite),  from the Paulliac region of Bordeaux, France.  This classic Bordeaux blend has delicate aroma of blueberry and cedar, and hints of smokiness.  It is delicate on the palate too, with black currant and cedar flavors.  13.7 percent alcohol.  Internet prices between $80-100.
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend, Bodegas Caro, Domaines Barons Rothschild & Nicolas Catena, Argentina.  A dense, complex wine with good tannic structure.  The lingering tannin gives the wine good length and a pleasant, soft mouthfeel.   Deep, aromatic and with very appealing intense fruit.   14.5 percent alcohol.     $35-40 internet price.

2011 Reserve Speciale Bordeaux Blanc, Domaines Barons Rothschild, France.  The blend is 40/60 Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  On the nose, the wine is aromatic, dominated by aroma of tropical and citrus fruits like grapefruit and lime. Sauvignon grapes give flavor and liveliness, while the Semillon grapes give fullness and balance at the end.   12 percent alcohol.   $15 internet price.
To taste Rothschild wines in the Lake Tahoe area, stop into L'uva Bella Wine Gallery at 13925 South Virginia St. in Reno.  Not long ago, they did a pouring of five Rothschild wines, none costing more than $19 a bottle:  Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc, Chile; Bordeaux Blanc,  Baron Rothschild Collection, France;  Chateau Paradis Casseuil , France,  Bordeaux  (red blend); Amancaya Malbec , Argentina, a 70/30 blend of Malbec and Cabernet; and Los Voscos Cabernet ,  Chile. 

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, on February 28, 2013   

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