Despite having being one of the top performing first growths for the best part of thirty years now, Lafite Rothschild endured a less than inspiring run of vintages in the 60’s and 70’s, albeit with one or two marvellous exceptions. The 1978 doesn’t approach the estate’s majestic offerings of late, but it is (as Neal Martin puts it), “an archetypal gentleman’s claret”.
Prices for all things ‘Lafite’ have risen steadily over the last couple of years, even allowing for the downturn over the past 4 or so months, and I consider myself fortunate, therefore, to have built up a small stock of various vintages over the years, which gives me great delight to dip into every so often.
The style of the 1978 is very traditional, ‘classic’, with lovely aromatics on opening, and earthy/gamey notes, pencil lead, tobacco, eastern spice and a lovely purity of cassis on the nose. ‘Earthy’ is a word I would apply to the palate as well, but with a good weight of fruit still shining through the autumnal flavours of smoke, spice and cedar. It displayed great definition and poise carrying through to a long and elegant finish. At its peak now, I wouldn’t hold on to bottles for too much longer; indeed, after an hour or so it began to fade slightly but one still has to applaud this hugely successful wine.