Chateau Lafleur Les Perrieres 2018
Chateau Lafleur Les Perrieres 2018, planted on three quite different soils: to the north-west we find sandy-clay gravel, to the south and to the east clay gravel, and at the heart of the vineyard gravelly sand. This unique association of soils helps in explaining in part the singularity of Lafleur. At the same time, we must mention the special combination of grape varieties, almost equal parts of Merlots and Bouchets, which highly contributes to the complexity of the wines made at Château Lafleur.
Chateau Lafleur is a tiny (4.5ha, 11 acres) family-run property in the Pomerol appellation on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Its grand vin of the same name is known for its concentration, creamy texture, intense black fruits and spicy character. Famous US wine critic Robert Parker has called it “one of the most distinctive, most exotic, and greatest wines – not only in Pomerol, but in the world”. The wine is also powerfully structured and needs more cellaring than most wines in the appellation – in the best vintages it can last half a century. Thanks in part to regular praise from Parker, who first visited in 1975, it is one of the most sought-after and highest-priced wines in the world.
The vineyard sits on deep layers of gravel on the edge of the Pomerol plateau, next to the La Fleur-Pétrus estate – another of the region’s blue-chip wineries. The Lafleur vineyard is planted 50/50 between Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with an unusually high proportion of the latter which contributes greatly to the wine’s capacity (and need) for ageing. Yields are very low even by the standards of Pomerol, and only around 1000 cases (9000 liters) are made each year, and typically up to 400 of these may be released as Pensées de Lafleur. This label was created for the poor 1987 vintage when no grand vin was released, though now focuses on specific plots and is not regarded by the producers as a second wine.
In the tiny farmhouse cellar, grapes for Lafleur are fermented in small cement vats and undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel. The wine is aged for around 15 months in French oak barrels, of which around 50 are new oak. Pensées de Lafleur is vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel and sees a lower proportion of new oak when maturing. Lafleur was founded in 1872 when Henri Greloud, the owner of Château Le Gay, bought the plot. It remains in the family and is now run his great, great grandchildren Jacques and Sylvie Guinaudeau.