The passion for wine that runs in the French branch of the Rothschild family was born in 1868 when James de Rothschild purchased Chateau Lafite. After more than a century of family history tied to the world of wine, Baron Edmond de Rothschild (great-grandson of James) took the adventure further in 1973 by acquiring two Cru Bourgeois wines in Listrac and Moulis-en-Medoc: Chateau Clarke and Chateau Malmaison. He then founded the Compagnie Vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild. With careful attention to detail, the properties were restored, the vines were replanted and the estates were modernised, while maintaining a family feel. Since then, the Compagnie Vinicole has opened up to the world under the leadership of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. In particular, it has forged strategic partnerships with other families that have the same entrepreneurial spirit and passion for wine. In 1997 a project was launched in South Africa, at the foot of the magnificent Simonsberg Mountain: Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons. The Compagnie Vinicole bought 250 hectares in Argentina in 1999 near the Andes cordillera to produce Flechas de los Andes wines. In the Bordeaux region, Benjamin de Rothschild acquired the superb property of Chateau des Laurets in 2003. His intention was to achieve the full potential of this vineyard, which straddles two appellations: Puisseguin Saint-Émilion and Montagne Saint-Émilion. Since 2009, deep in Spain’s Rioja Alta, Bodegas Benjamin de Rothschild & Vega Sicilia have been producing Macan wines, which are tempranillo monovarietals. In New Zealand, the 2012 acquisition of 26 hectares of vineyards in the Marlborough Valley yielded Rimapere wines, which showcase the singularity of sauvignon blanc and pinot noir grapes grown in New Zealand. Benjamin de Rothschild and his wife, Ariane, are at work on every continent, applying their high standards to crafting quality wines with techniques that are rooted in authenticity and respect for the environment and that make the most of the land. The Rothschild family’s commitment to wine is also reflected in its many initiatives to protect and promote wine-making heritage. One of the most symbolic projects is the Cite du Vin in Bordeaux, actively supported by the family as Builder Patron. This ambitious cultural destination is part-museum, part-theme park. Its mission is to educate visitors about wine history and heritage and allow them to share their knowledge and skills.
Chateau Clarke Listrac-Medoc 2015 is sweet and generous but also with quite a slug of dry tannins, and that really gives the wine some character and drive at the finish. You can drink it now, but better in 2020.