Chateau Lafite, the famous Pauillac property of the Left Bank of the Medoc, began to earn its reputation as a great winemaking estate in the 17th century. Acquiring a strong following in London in the early 18th century, Lafite found its way to the Versailles court, receiving acclaim as the “The King’s Wine”. The reputation did not diminish, achieving a pinnacle when it was ranked a First Growth in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification.
On August 8, 1868, Baron James de Rothschild purchased Chateau Lafite, although he died just three months later leaving Lafite to his three sons. The years that followed were considered a golden age for the estate, producing a rich legacy of remarkable vintages.
Fortunes turned at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, which were turbulent years. The vines suffered both a phylloxeric crisis and mildew. Then there was organized fraud, World War I, followed by the Great Depression, and finally the occupation of France during World War II. After this difficult period, Baron Elie de Rothschild was entrusted with the recovery of the Lafite estate, leading programs to restore the vineyards and the buildings, as well as becoming an active participant in tasting events and the founding of a regional guild.
The recovery and renewal period at Chateau Lafite was continued by his nephew, Baron Eric de Rothschild, who made great strides forward in the management of the estate and in the replanting and restoration of the vineyards. He also extended the horizons of the Domaines through new acquisitions both in France and abroad.