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What is the difference between Moulin des Carruades and Carruades de Lafite?

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: February 10, 2012

Q: I learned that before 1980s, Carruades de Lafite was called Moulin des Carruades. But recently I found some Carruades de Lafite 1954 for sale on the internet. Is it fake? –Alain

A: According to Château Lafite’s official website, the origin of the name Carruades comes from a group of plots adjacent to the château’s best vineyards, purchased in 1845 by Château Lafite. Carruades’ recent track record at auction has been impressive, ranging from a double magnum from the 1961 vintage for $1,361 to $398 for a 750ml bottle of 2008. However, over the past half century, various label changes and marketing strategies have made it an extremely complex wine to follow. Even Christophe Salin, Managing Director of Domaines Barons de Rothschild, calls it a “long story.”

Lafite's website says Carruades de Lafite was marketed as “Moulin des Carruades” before the 1980s. They don’t specify the precise dates.

To make matters more complicated, a leading wine searching engine showed listings for the 1955 vintage (67 Wines & Spirits) and 1966 vintage (Acker Merrall & Condit) both labeled Carruades de Lafite, not Moulin des Carruades. Even more confusing, labels for both Carruades de Lafite 1982 and Moulin des Carruades 1982 have appeared on the web simultaneously. John Kapon, CEO of Acker Merrall & Condit, the respected Manhattan wine merchant and auction house, thinks that the second wine of Château Lafite Rothschild began its life as Carruades de Château Lafite Rothschild, stopped in the ‘60s and then changed to Moulin and then went back to Carruades.

So what is it? Moulin des Carruades or Carruades de Lafite? The answer is both! So the name alone is not enough to rule it a fake.

Christophe Salin explains that Carruades was first a domaine wine (he says he actually had a very good 1859 at Lafite 2 weeks ago). “In the 20th century, it became the second wine of Lafite until the late 1960s, when it was renamed Moulin des Carruades (certain sommeliers were pretending Carruades de Lafite was a special confidential cuvée on top of Lafite! We had to stop that). Finally, we decided in the early 1980s to go back to Carruades de Lafite Rothschild and … actually Carruades de Lafite now. Thus, it is absolutely correct to find in the 1980s (before 1986) two labels for the same vintage with different names… very confusing indeed. The good news is that since ’86, everything is clear again!”

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