Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Tour and Tasting at Château Lafon-Rochet with Owner Basile Tesseron – Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France
This Château features some of the finest vineyards in the world. It is situated in the small appellation Saint-Estèphe and is sandwiched between two prominent neighbors: Cos-d’Estournel on the other side of the street and Lafite-Rothschild, separated only by a small dirt track, and visible across the vineyard that belongs to Lafon-Rochet. Since the 16th century this Château makes excellent wines and had been in the hands of the Lafon family for almost 300 years. In 1895 the phylloxera disaster forced the family to sell Château Lafon-Rochet. A period of a rapid succession of several disinterested owners followed until Guy Tesseron (who also bought Château Pontet-Canet) acquired the Château in the 1960s. He and then his son Michel brought Lafon-Rochet back to its former glory. The new generation is now at the helm and Basile Tesseron is energetically pursuing quality control.
Basile Tesseron was our host. We were also greeted by Michel Tesseron, Directeur Technique Lucas Leclerq and Vineyard Manager Anaïs Maillet.
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.
The history of Château 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.
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.
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%.
Basile Tesseron and Vineyard Manager Anaïs Maillet are steering Château Lafon-Rochet towards biodynamic viticulture, following the example of Basile’s uncle at Pontet-Canet. But Lafon-Rochet has not yet been certified.
During our visit, I saw for the first time the completely renovated wine cellar. Importantly, Basile and Michel Tesseron decided to go the route of stainless steel tanks and concrete vats. To match the 40 different vineyard parcels, the estate now has 18 stainless steel tanks and 18 concrete vats in different sizes and shapes for fermentation. The wine is aged for 9 months in new oak and for another 9 month in used oak.
The grand vin is Château Lafon-Rochet (11000 cases). The second wine is Pélerins de Lafon-Rochet (also 11000 cases per annum and once known as Numéro 2 de Lafon-Rochet).
Following the tour, we tasted 3 wines.
Pélerins de Lafon-Rochet 2011
This second label from Chateau Lafon Rochet is just fabulous and while it is made in the same traditional manner as its famous big brother, the wine reveals itself more rapidly so you can enjoy all summer with your steak barbecues! (Royal Wine Merchants, NYC)
Wine-searcher average price: US$ 20
Tasted blind at Southwold '06 Bordeaux tasting. The best showing of the Lafon Rochet '06 so far! It has an open nose that is well defined, but unashamedly earthy and austere with aromas of pencil shavings, leather and a touch of white pepper. The palate is medium-bodied with sharp acidity, a decent backbone here, structured, blackberry laced with black pepper with a salty tang towards the finish. Moderate length and a lively, tactile, "umami" aftertaste. Tasted January 2010. Score: 90 Neal Martin, eRobertParker.com, July 2010
US$ 60 at K&L Wine Merchants
I had some bottle variation with this blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The 2010 from Lafon Rochet seemed slightly restrained and closed down on the three occasions I tasted it in Bordeaux. Dense black/ruby, it displays sweet tannin, excellent purity, fresh fruit and a very primary, almost grapy style with lots of fruit, but at the same time, a somewhat monolithic character. It should turn out fine, but it certainly needs a good 7-8 years of cellaring and should drink well for up to two decades.The property is owned by the Tesseron family and run by the newest generation, son Basile, who is converting the estate to biodynamic farming a la his uncle, Alfred Tesseron at Pontet Canet. (2/ 2013) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
US$ 49 at Flickinger Wine Merchants
Thank you very much Basile Tesseron, Lucas Leclercq and Anaïs Maillet for a great tour and tasting.
schiller-wine: Related Postings (Château Lafon-Rochet)
Winemaker Dinner with Château LAFON-ROCHET Wines and Winemaker Anaïs Maillet at Chef Bart Vandaele’s Hipp B Too Restaurant in Washington DC, US/France
A Tour and Tasting at Château Lafon-Rochet in Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, with Winemaker and Owner Basile Tesseron (2013), France
An Afternoon with Owner Michel Tesseron at Château Lafon-Rochet, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, in Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux
Tasting the Wines of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, with Owner Basil Tesseron at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA/France
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