©Linden Wilkie, 16 April 2021
A couple of weeks before leaving Singapore for Hong Kong (I am halfway through my 21 day self-isolation – see you soon!) I had the chance to share a bottle of 1999 Château Lafleur. I noted –
Full garnet with a lightly bricked rim; a nose mixing cool wet earth with sweet cherry and a hint of cherry liqueur; lush on the palate, and for ’99 notably concentrated, sweet, ripe and appealing. The profile is unusually yielding, friendly, round in texture and full of ripe fruit. There’s a mineral depth here too. As it opened in the glass, a touch of milk chocolate emerged on the finish. 94
As I both enjoyed and contemplated this wine in the glass, I was reminded just how special Lafleur is. The Guinaudeau family’s ancestor Henri Greloud bought this rectangular 4.5ha parcel in Pomerol in 1872 – a ‘garden vineyard’ comprising three terroirs for this label – sandy-clay gravels, clay gravels, and gravelly sands. It’s this rare combination of different soils within this small plot, high on the Pomerol plateau, and through equal parts Merlot and Bouchet (the Cabernet Franc propagated from massale selections here through generations), that the natural intensity, aromatic and flavour complexity, the power and finesse unique to Lafleur can be delivered.
It occurred to me, as I sipped this wine, why it appeals so much. Firstly, in any vintage, the wine shows an amazing capacity to pack so much into the glass, yet deliver it with finesse. But it is also about what it delivers. This split between Bouchet and Merlot I think of as a split between the mind and the heart. There is at once a coolness, an herb and spice and wet earth dimension, and structure, all of which keep the cerebral mind engaged, sip by sip as these layers evolve. Yet, there is also simply the most seductive cherry-scented fruit, with the kind of extract and perfume that sets the heart racing.
We are proud today to be ambassadeurs for the Guinaudeau family wines, including this one. Our love for and interest in Lafleur stretches back many years, and for more detail on vintages, you can read my report of two vertical tastings we hosted in 2017. For an example to enjoy today I’d recommend the 1999. We also have a selection of 15 vintages on offer, and we would be happy to offer advice on choosing the right one for you.