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A first growth in the Médoc region of Bordeaux. The vineyard, to the north of the small town of Pauillac and adjoining Ch Mouton-Rothschild, was probably planted in the last third of the 17th century. Inherited in 1716 by the Ségurs, who also owned Ch Latour, it was sold in 1784 to Pierre de Pichard, an extremely rich president of the Bordeaux Parlement who perished on the scaffold. The estate was confiscated and sold as public property in 1799 to a Dutch consortium which in 1803 resold it to a Dutch grain merchant and supplier to Napoleon's armies, Ignace-Joseph Vanlerberghe. When he fell on hard times, he resold it to his former wife in order to avoid its falling into a creditor's hands. Perhaps for the same reason, or to avoid splitting it up under French inheritance laws, in 1821 she apparently sold it to a London banker, Sir Samuel Scott, for 1 million francs. He and then his son were the nominal owners for over 40 years. But when the real proprietor Aimé Vanlerberghe died without issue in 1866, the family decided to sell it and pay the fines owed because of the concealment. In 1868, after a stiff contest with a Bordeaux syndicate, it was knocked down to Baron James de rothschild of the Paris bank, for 4.4 million francs, including part of the Carruades vineyard. Baron James died in the same year and the Château has remained in the family ever since. Baron Eric de Rothschild took over direction of the property from his uncle Baron Élie in 1975. In the famous 1855 classification, Lafite was placed first of the premiers crus, although there is controversy as to whether the order was alphabetical or by rank. Yet, as Christie's auctions in the 1960s and 1970s of 19th-century British country mansion cellars showed, in Britain Lafite was nearly always the favoured first growth.
The Château itself is a 16th-century manor. The vineyard, one of the largest in the Haut-Médoc, was 103 ha iin 2005 with an encépagement of 71 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 per cent Cabernet Franc, 25 per cent Merlot, and 1 per cent Petit Verdot. Annual production is about 45,000 cases, of which about a third may be the second wine, called Carruades de Lafite but not restricted to wine produced on the plateau in the vineyard known as Les Carruades.