The irrepressibly charming Baron Eric de Rothschild channeled Winston Churchill as nearly 1,000 wineglasses of Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 2003 (96 points, $450 on release, $771 current auction price) were filled on Saturday morning at the Wine Experience. “Never has so much Lafite been drunk by so many in so few minutes!” he cheerfully exclaimed.
The chairman of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), which encompasses several other estates, was thrilled to be sharing this classic vintage from the Bordeaux first-growth. “Not only are you the biggest market,” he said of the United States, “you’re also the most sophisticated. You don’t drink labels; you respect our wines.”
The 2003, a wine de Rothschild says will age for decades, commanded respect. "This says, 'I'm very good today, but wait another 10 years and then you'll see what I am,'" he said.
The grand gesture of generosity fell perfectly in line with what de Rothschild described as the spirit of Lafite. “It’s a beautiful place, about love, about sharing, a place about happiness and peace. It’s rather extraordinary. And I’ve always wondered ... is it because the wines are so extraordinary that it is so peaceful?”
“Lafite has an extraordinary effect on people,” de Rothschild continued, as he shared a tale of a dinner where actress Greta Garbo and a British trade union leader bonded. “They begin to listen to each other, to understand each other. Peace conferences should all begin with everyone drinking a half-bottle of Lafite!”
Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken surprised de Rothschild before his talk with a video clip from a documentary on Wine Spectator’s 1983 Wine Experience, where the baron had presented a vertical of Lafite that included the legendary 1961 and 1949 vintages.
De Rothschild was visibly moved by the memory of old friends and his earlier days in the wine business; Shanken teased him fondly about how many fans he won that day with his good looks. This year's attendees, however, were no less impressed than those who lined up for autographs in 1983—de Rothschild left the stage to a standing ovation.
Learn more about Baron Eric de Rothschild and Château Lafite Rothschild: