Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) or the DBR Lafite Group, owns various chateaux and have investments in other countries in addition to Lafite. However, few of us are aware of the Légende, a range of Bordeaux appellation wines mainly for the on-trade market.
According to the group’s export director Michel Negrier, Lafite is an icon wine that wine lovers aspire to. With increasing interests in wine from the younger generation in the 90s, the group decided to create a wine that combines the elegance of Lafite and an accessible price point for these consumers.
First to decide is the name. It must be as easy to pronounce and remember as Lafite, and convey the message of tradition, modernity, history and terroir, and encourage discovery. Légende is the ideal name that lived up to the criteria.
The first vintage of Légende was 1995 and it was available in Hong Kong since 2002. We tried the full range of wine:
Légende Bordeaux Blanc 2015: a vibrant, easy drinking wine with no oak influence. The freshness of Sauvignon Blanc livens up the oiliness in food while the Semillon adds weight.
Légende Bordeaux Rouge 2015: a Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wine that focuses on the purity of fruit, another easy drinking wine appeal to new drinkers.
Légende Médoc 2014: Same blend as the Bordeaux Rouge with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, the wine certainly shows the Médoc influence with more structure.
Légende Saint-Emilion 2013: a well balanced wine with 95% Merlot. Velvety tannin, red fruits and a hint of spices.
Légende Pauillac 2012: a wine with structure and elegance. Apparently the grapes were from Lafite’s vineyards, no wonder the wine is a league above the rest of the range.
Michel said Légende is approachable, fun, easy to understand; about sharing with friends and discovering the Bordeaux terroir. Like NV champagne, it focuses on year on year consistency rather than highlighting vintage differences. In Michel’s word, Légende is the ladder to Lafite.
While most consumers in the world would go the mainstream way to try the entry level wine first before moving up ladder, Chinese consumers tend to jump right onto the top of the ladder skipping the basic and intermediate levels. In my view, this is a wrong approach to wine as the palate of new drinkers are not used to the structure and complexity of first growth wines, and therefore would not fully appreciate the subtlety of these great wines. We need to be patient and climb the ladder step by step in order to fully understand and thus enjoy the wine at all levels and price points.
With Légende now officially launched, I hope young Chinese consumers would first make connection with Lafite’s younger brother before setting their eyes on Lafite itself.
By the way, the Group also produces champagne in a ‘Lafite, Mouton and Baron Edmond de Rothschild’ family project under the name Champagne Barons de Rothschild. The bubbly certainly lived up to the reputation of the family.
Both Légende and Champagne Barons de Rothschild are available from ASC.