In the wine world, the name Domaines Barons de Rothschild – Lafite (DBR) sparks grandiose notions of historic châteaux, frst-growth Bordeaux, and record-breaking auctions. For centuries, DBR has been creating some of the world’s most exquisite — and expensive — wines. But collectible bottles aren’t the iconic producer’s only focus. In addition to the prestigious wines being cultivated in its famed Médoc vineyard, DBR is turning out a collection of classic Bordeaux geared toward the casual, everyday drinker.
Winemaker Diane Flamand has been overseeing production of the Légende R Collection since 2004. There are five wines — four reds and a white — in the collection: Bordeaux Rouge, Médoc, Saint-Emilion, Pauillac, and Bordeaux Blanc. Flamand creates each of these terroir-driven wines with an eye toward expressing the distinctive characteristics of Bordeaux’s noble grapes and the diversity that can be found across the region’s appellations.
Bordeaux wine can be intimidating for some consumers, particularly Americans who tend to have a more casual approach to buying and drinking wine. With that in mind, Flamand has applied a global perspective to her winemaking strategy. “I’ve done my best for the last 15 years to produce wines adapted to the consumer’s expectations,” she says. “Thanks to my frequent visits to the U.S., I understand better and better the evolution of the market.”
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A native of Bordeaux, Flamand developed her passion for wine while growing up in the Médoc region. She decided to pursue a career in viticulture after working a harvest at Château Lafite in 1984. That experience solidified her choice to jump feet first into the industry, and even led her to meet her husband.
Flamand takes pride in the Légende R Collection, which she points out is a great introduction to the region. “These are racy, elegant, extremely complex wines — all of these qualities that make Lafite unique,” she says. At the same time, she adds, the wines are approachable, easy to drink, and have good potential for aging. “I would say that they are made to drink young, so you don’t have to wait 10 years before opening a bottle.”
Of all the wines in the portfolio, Flamand says she favors the Bordeaux Blanc. “I drink it regularly with friends as an aperitif — it’s very fresh and easy,” she says, adding, “I like the Pauillac, too, being a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignon.” In general, Flamand seeks to strike a good balance between the levels of alcohol and acidity in her fruit-forward Légende wines, which helps make them crisp, fresh, and very drinkable.
Flamand takes a very hands-on approach to winemaking, from harvest to bottling. The final blending process is one of the aspects of winemaking that excites her most. She believes that’s really the moment when the personality of the future wine is revealed. Understanding the character of the wine also helps the winemaking team determine how long the wines will be aged in oak before they are bottled.
As a woman winemaker in France, and one of the few women winemakers in Bordeaux, Flamand has seen change first-hand in the industry over the last 30 years. When she was first starting out, for example, there weren’t many women working in the enology field. Additionally, there wasn’t the same level of global demand for young, drinkable wines that there is today.
Flamand’s mission with the Légende R Collection is to showcase the versatility as well as the authenticity of Bordeaux’s wines — to demonstrate that in addition to the prestige bottles, there are quality wines available from DBR for everyday drinking. And her efforts aren’t limited to winemaking. Part of her work also involves helping to simplify what is typically a complicated region and make it more accessible for wine enthusiasts around the world.
“The Légende wines have the same qualities as the other wines in the Rothschild portfolio: well-balanced, elegant, with a good freshness on the palate,” Flamand says. “This is the Lafite touch!”