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Owned by the Rothschilds since 1868, and prized above all other wines since (at least) 1703, Château Lafite’s fabulous reds have been subject to endless scrutiny and much envy for more than three hundred years. But how is it that they taste as good as they do? Cyril Ray’s impeccably researched foray into one of the world’s most celebrated Premiers Grands Crus Classés explores the wines themselves, the vineyards and the fascinating family behind this remarkable property. 

Originally published in the 1970s as part of the classic Christie’s First Growths Series, this new edition includes a Foreword and updates by leading Bordeaux wine specialist Jane Anson, who takes up where the author left off and brings the fascinating story of Château Lafite into the 21st century. The book also includes appendices on vintages, yields and quality; comparative prices for First Growths and prices fetched at auction; and a full portfolio of tasting notes for those lucky enough to sample this most splendid of wines. 


When Cyril Ray left Oxford, the Great Depression was at its worst and jobs were scarce. Busying himself with work in a riding school, an obsolete balloon squadron in the RAF, a shop and a cinema, he eventually found himself working as a reporter for the Manchester Guardian, then as a war reporter during World War 2. His love of writing took him to the Sunday Times, then to his role as editor of the Compleat Imbiber, where he found new voice in facts, floral descriptions and spicy anecdotes that entranced his wine-loving readers. Cyril was hooked too. Many books and columns later, he was asked how being a socialist (he was) tallied with life as a wine connoisseur. He replied “There is no more virtue in not minding what you eat and drink than in not minding who you go to bed with.”

Cyril Ray’s insights into what makes an outstanding wine are as penetrating today as the day they were written
— Martin Preston