This chateau occupies the finest crests in Pauillac ( and hence the origin of its name, La Fite meaning height), a region the Latin Poet Ausonius spoke of as early as the year 325BC. As with most Medocs, although mention of the property first occurs in 1355 and the wine itself is first mentioned in 1641, the fame of Lafite first dates from the 18th century, when it was the property of Nicolas-Alexandre, Marquis de Segur. At this time he also owned both Latour and Mouton-Rothschild. The most money spent on a bottle of wine and recorded by the Guinness Book of records, was 105,000 pounds for a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite. The bottle was initialed by Jefferson (1743-1826), who was the 3rd president of the United States and was sold to a Christopher Forbes (USA) at Christie’s London on the 5th Dec. 1985. In Nov. 1986 its cork, dried out by exhibition lights, slipped thus making the wine undrinkable. They pick the grapes later to obtain greater ripeness and lower acidity in their wines, the vintage selection process is undoubtedly more severe than it was in the past. In the 80’s they routinely eliminated 50% of the crop and as much as 69% in 1990.
From the mid-seventies there has been a move to increase the quality of the wine. In the past the wines used to spend a minimum of 32-36 months in oak barrels, they have now realized by reducing this to between 20 to a maximum of 34 months increases the quality of the wine. The wines are now bottled over a much shorter period of time.