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2015 Lafon Rochet

2015 Lafon Rochet

Critic Reviews

A sinuous line of tannins runs through this structured wine. It lifts the dark plum and berry fruits and give shape to the spicy, firm wine. As the estate builds in strength, the style of this perfumed, stylish wine will be seen as a benchmark. Drink from 2025.

Wine Enthusiast | 95 WE
A gem from Saint-Estèphe is the 2015 Château Lafon-Rochet and it’s certainly one of the top wines from this appellation in 2015. Elegant, medium to full-bodied, beautifully pure and refined, it offers impressive notes of sweet dark fruits, crème de cassis, classy oak and a kiss of minerality. It’s the finesse and quality of tannin, as well as its solid mid-palate, that sets this beauty apart. This wine is 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot, and it’s hidden little gem worth tracking down!

Jeb Dunnuck | 94 JD
Very perfumed with blackberries, blueberries and cloves. Dried lavender as well. Full body and linear and refined tannins. Pretty spices come together with the clean fruit at the end. Hard not to drink now but two or three years of bottle age will pull it together. Drink in 2020.

James Suckling | 93 JS
The 2015 Lafon-Rochet, which was bottled in May 2017, is a wine that has developed wonderfully in bottle. This was the first year under organic viticulture (although Basile mentioned that they would not necessarily ask for certification). Here, it has a well-defined bouquet, sultry black fruit at first but a few swirls and it becomes more expressive, with scents of damp earth and woodland complementing the aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, a keen bead of acidity, very harmonious and elegant toward the sappy finish, a hint of black olive and seaweed on the aftertaste. This is an understated gem that should not be overlooked.

Robert Parker Neal Martin | 92 RP-NM
The 2015 Lafon-Rochet has a lifted, perfumed bouquet of ample blackberry and raspberry aromas. The oak here is nearly entwined with graphite and cigar box aromas developing in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine definition, quite filigreed tannin (for a Saint Estèphe) that frame a smooth, quite pure blackberry and strawberry finish with plenty of white pepper on the aftertaste. This is a fine Lafon-Rochet from Basile Tesseron and his team. Tasted blind at the Southwold 2015 Bordeaux tasting.

Vinous Media | 92 VM
Softer, more rounded and complete, this is a generous Lafon-Rochet with a bit less focus on the mid-palate. Plenty of lift, not at all heavy in the mouth. There is a prominent baked fruit character but also enough acidity to balance. Firm tannins and notable oak on the finish. Harvested between 22 September and 9 October.

Decanter | 91 DEC

Wine Details for 2015 Lafon Rochet

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Subregion Saint Estephe


Producer Chateau Lafon-Rochet : What we recognize as Chateau Lafon Rochet today was founded in 1650 when Antoinette de Guillemotte bought the land of Rochette as her dowry to her husband, Pierre de Lafon. Shortly after the marriage, the two changed the name of the chateau. Following the custom of the day and uniting the previous name of Chateau Rochet and Lafon; Chateau Lafon Rochet was born.

Unlike most other Bordeaux properties which were confiscated during the French Revolution, Lafon Rochet was not. The Left Bank estate would remain in the same family for more than two centuries. Unfortunately, as the family line continued downward so did their enthusiasm for the property, allowing it to fall into disrepair.

The modern era would come in 1959 and with it the resurrection of the estate’s quality and reputation. The Tesseron family, with the understanding of the extensive work needing done as the property had fallen into a dilapidated state, purchased the Saint Estephe estate with the intention of improving the vineyards and quality of wine. The Tesseron family, under the direction of Guy Tesseron, completely renovated Lafon Rochet from top to bottom.

The endeavor was overwhelming but so was Guy Tesseron’s ambition. Most of the original buildings were in terrible shape and could no longer be used. The 17-hectare vineyard was in extremely poor condition and needed replanting. Through replanting and subsequent purchases, the estate doubled in size, marking the true beginning of the modern era for Lafon Rochet.

Guy Tesseron had his work cut out for him but began the renovations in 1960 with vigor. Because the winemaking facilities were in such poor condition, Tesseron commissioned the building of all new facilities, including the chateau itself. In irony, Chateau Lafon Rochet was classified a Fourth Growth in the 1855 Classification of the Medoc but was constructed in the 20th century.

Not only were the vineyards in dire need of replanting, the existing grape varieties were planted in the wrong soils. Merlot was planted in gravel, and the Cabernets in clay. The process of unifying the correct varietal with soil is still undergoing to this day. But this explains why the wine of Lafon is so much better today and is only increasing in quality.

Multiple generation of the Tesseron family would continue to enhance the property in their own way. Under the tutelage of Michel, an aesthetic touch to the chateau was implemented by painting it a bright yellow, which he insists is an artistic statement. Basile Tesseron, who speaks fluent English and has previous experience working with negociants, worked to expand the brand name. Eventually, after generations of loyal care to the family estate, Lafon Rochet was sold to Jacky Lorenzetti in September of 2021.

Today, 38 hectares are under vine and planted to 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. These varietals combined, produce 10,000 cases of Lafon Rochet annually. On average the vines are 37 years of age; however, some of the oldest parcels have vines that were planted back in 1938. The correct varietals are still being rectified and planted in their optimal soil type. The terroir is mostly gravel, clay, sand, limestone and marl soils. The best parcels are found in a mix of deep gravel and clay. Interestingly, what makes their terroir so unique is that some of the clay in the vineyard is the same type of blue clay found in Pomerol at Chateau Petrus.

The story of Lafon Rochet is enthralling in a sense that it has been resuscitated and is continuing its journey towards being one of the greater wines in Saint Estephe. The Tesseron family is to be greatly credited to its revivification. Jacky Lorenzetti, who is an experienced vineyard owner is continuing its elevation of reputation and popularity. The story of Lafon Rochet is one of great redemption.

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