Monday, February 11, 2013

An Afternoon with Owner Michel Tesseron at Château Lafon-Rochet, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, in Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Michel Tesseron at  Château Lafon-Rochet in Saint-Estèphe

I recently met Basile Tesseron, who is in charge of Château Lafon-Rochet, in Washington DC, USA at the French Embassy. This time, the tasting took place at Château Lafon-Rochet in Saint-Estèphe and the event was led by Basile’s father, Michel Tesseron.

For more, see:
Tasting the Wines of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, with Owner Basile Tesseron at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA/France
Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

Château Lafon-Rochet

Château Lafon-Rochet is a 4th Grand Cru en 1855 in the Saint-Estèphe appellation of the Medoc. It is one of the 5 classified properties in the appellation of Saint Estèphe. Its grounds are separated from those of Château Lafite to the north by the width of the road and from Cos d'Estournel by a dirt path.

Pictures: Château Lafon-Rochet


The history of Chateau Lafon-Rochet starts in the 16th century, when a portion known as Rochet (because of its rocky terrain) eventually passed by marriage to Etienne de Lafon, who established Lafon-Rochet. The estate then passed down through the Lafon generations for almost 300 years.

Pictures: Michel Tesseron

When Guy Tesseron became the owner in 1959, it needed a serious restoration and Guy Tesseron did restore it to its former glory. Guy Tesseron was from a Chanterais family, specializing in the Cognac production.

Guy Tesseron first put the vineyards back in order. He then built new chai, and a new château, in the style of the 18th century. Also, some 25 hectares were added to the vineyard.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Basile Tesseron at Lafon-Rochet and in Washington DC

In 1975, Guy Tesseron also acquired 5th growth Chateau Pontet-Canet from the Cruse family. Both châteaux subsequently passed to the next generation with Lafon-Rochet coming to Michel Tesseron. Currently the property is in the good hands of Michel’s son, Basil Tesseron.

Michel and Basile Tesseron

Before joining the family business in 1987, Michel Tesseron worked in in Cognac, then in Bordeaux for Barton & Guestier, and for the négociants Chantecaille.

It was Michel Tesseron who oversaw the painting of the château yellow in 2000. At the same time, the bottles were redesigned and matching yellow labels and capsules are used now.

Basile Tesseron took over with the 2007 vintage and he now has full control.

Vineyards and Wine Making

Lafon-Rochet's vineyards covers 45 hectares and are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon 54%, Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 4%, Petit Verdot 2%.

Pictures: The Vineyards

To match the 40 different vineyard parcels, the estate has 40 stainless steel, temperature controlled vats. The wine is kept in new oak barrels for 9 months before it is moved to one year old barrels, where it remains for an additional 9 months.  The final blending takes place 3 months before bottling.

Pictures: The Vats

The grand vin is Château Lafon-Rochet (11000 cases per annum), the second wine is Pélerins de Lafon-Rochet (also 11000 cases per annum and once known as Numéro 2 de Lafon-Rochet).

Pictures: The Barrels

Today, Basile Tesseron is steering Lafon-Rochet towards biodynamic viticulture, following the example of his uncle at Pontet-Canet. But Lafon-Rochet has not yet been certified.


We ended up with a tasting of 3 wines.

Pictures: Tasting with Michel Tesseron

2005 Chateau Lafon Rochet

Plum, cherry, black fruits on the nose, very powerful, very tannic, still young.

Wine searcher average price: US$ 63

2009 Chateau Lafon Rochet

Notes of cassis, other dark fruits and graphite on the nose, firm, mouth filling tannins on the palate, medium to long finish.

Wine searcher average price: US$ 57

2007 Pélerins de Lafon-Rochet  

Excellent second, easier to drink wine, medium bodied, with loads of flavors on the palate, good finish.

Wine searcher average price: US$ 17

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