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Ric visits Château La Fleur-Pétrus

June 27, 2019

20190625_113043Château La Fleur-Pétrus used to be perennially under-rated and under-appreciated, with many thinking that it was trying to ride on the coat-tails of Château Pétrus. However, a closer look at its history and make-up will reveal that this is an estate that fully merits its current status as a much sought-after Pomerol. When we arrived at 1030h on the cool overcast morning of 25 June 2019, we were welcomed by the estate’s ambassador Mme. Nathalie Millaire. Tracing its roots back to the 18th century under the Arnaud family, the modern history of Château La Fleur-Pétrus only began in 1950 when Jean-Pierre Mouiex purchased the estate, comprising a solitary parcel of vines on the northern plateau of Pomerol, a choice plot immediately sandwiched between Château Pétrus and Château Lafleur. The terroir of this pioneering plot is noted for its rich layers of iron beneath the pebbly soils drained by a northerly slope, yielding notes of elegant black cherries in the wine. His son Christian then acquired a second parcel comprising gravelly clay located just in front of the current chateau building (an area known as Tropchaud), abutting the vines of Château Lafleur and Château Hosanna, that lends tremendous suppleness with a hint of plums. A third and final parcel was acquired by Edouard (Christian’s son) as recently as 2012, sandwiched between the vines of Château Trotanoy and Le Pin, comprising gravelly soils that lend structure and dense blackcurrants to the wine. Totaling just over 18 ha planted with 90% merlot (30 year-old vines) and 10% cabernet franc (50 years) at a density of 6,500 vines per ha, only some 60,000 bottles, at most, are produced annually. The vines are old, averaging 65 years. The grapes are handpicked and sorted with state-of-the-art optical sorting. Cold maceration takes place for 18-24 days in both concrete and temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, whilst aging takes place in 50% new oak over 18-22 months.

20190625_114101With such proximity to such illustrious neighbours, expectations are high for this estate. The 2016 Château La Fleur-Pétrus, tasted from half-bottle, displayed distant aromas of cool fruit with some gentle earthiness whilst dark fruits, plums and currants dominate with lovely concentration and intensity on the palate, fleshy and highly supple, marked by lively acidity, well-managed tannins and excellent linearity throughout its length, just a tad short. I’d imagine a standard bottling or magnum would produce outstanding results. Prices for Château La Fleur-Pétrus have already climbed significantly over the past decade, in part due to more aggressive promotion by those with vested interests, but the concomitant improvement in quality as well as huge potential of the wines may justify the premium. Merci, Nathalie, for your precious time and insight.

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