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FICOFI: Château Lafleur 2007, 2005 & 1995

November 28, 2019

Founded in 1872, Château Lafleur is a tiny 4.5 ha property in Pomerol adjacent to the estates of La Fleur-Pétrus, Vieux Château Certan, Pétrus and Hosanna. Château Lafleur has always been rated very highly by insiders even as far back as the late nineteenth century, but it was only in the 1980s when a certain highly-influential American critic began heaping praise on two sisters there who were making the wines that interest picked up and prices began soaring through the roof. The two sisters were Therese and Marie Robin, whose father Andre Robin had purchased Lafleur from its previous owner in 1915. They cleared away malbec in favour of merlot and cabernet franc in 50:50 proportion. After the last of the sisters passed on in 2001, the estate was re-acquired by the Guinaudeau family, descendants of Henri Greloud who had previously sold the château to Andre Robin. So everything has come full circle. Located quite centrally in Pomerol where the land shapes into a gentle mound of iron-rich deposits, the soils are largely gravel at the top which facilitates excellent drainage, probably the reason why people tend to collect Lafleur of so-called “off” vintages. For this FICOFI event at the one Michelin-starred Iggy’s in Singapore on 15 November 2019, the estate’s winemaker Omri Ram was on hand to provide further insights into the wines made by the Guinaudeau family. The trio of Ch Lafleur that evening certainly lived up to their reputation: the potential for tremendous complexity was clearly evident in the 2005, the 1995 was on track towards greatness while the 2007 proved that Lafleur exceeds all expectations even in weaker vintages.

2019-11-15 -Le Club FICOFI - Chateau Lafluer Dinner - Singapore-23

Photo by FICOFI

2005 Champagne Henriot Cuvée Hemera. Notes of light toast and yeast along with green apples and fig that impart a distinct feminine fragrance. Very fresh on the medium-bodied palate, possessing great energy and concentration of tangy citrus with a clear crystalline quality tinged with pomelo though it doesn’t reveal much inner detail. Well-balanced with good intensity and acidity, not too dry. Not necessarily better than its workhorse Millésime, I feel. There was considerable bottle variation, the second pour from a freshly popped bottle distinctly more vibrant and fresh.

2015 Les Champs Libres. Made from cuttings of old vines of sauvignon blanc from Sancerre now planted on limestone soils near Château Grand Village. This is the third vintage, fermented and aged in Burgundian barrels. Displaying a light clear golden, this wine proffers an arresting bouquet of mangoes, tropical fruits and dense glycerol whilst the well-balanced medium-bodied palate is imbued with refreshing acidity and fine intensity of fruit that carries plenty of zest and energy, imparting a lengthy tingling persistence even long after it has left the palate. Very enjoyable. All bottlings from 2016 onwards are 100% sauvignon blanc.

2013 Guinaudeau G Acte 5. Made from cuttings of old vines of Château Lafleur now grown on shallow clay over limestone cliffs in Fronsac. This inaugural vintage displays a very deep crimson, generously proportioned with dense dark plums and dark currants laced with attractive acidity that impart excellent open intensity of fruit, very evenly balanced. Not at all overwhelming.

2013 Pensées de Lafleur. Not to be mistaken for a second wine, as it is made from a 0.7 ha plot of merlot grown in a valley of clay soils between two banks of Château Lafleur. Deep red, this wine opens with an attractive glow of warm pebbles and ripe cherries above distant tones of wild berries and subtle grassy elements. Very open on the palate with great suppleness, excellent presence and concentration. Darkly attractive with subtle charm and intensity.

2007 Château Lafleur. Deep garnet red, exuding an attractive earthy pungency with effusive recessed tones of sweet dark currants. The palate is quite amply endowed with wild berries amid traces of green elements, open with a great fleshy suppleness, very well-integrated with well-defined acidity and clean precision, finishing with lovely warmth. Drinking well.

1995 Château Lafleur. Deep crimson. This wine displays a beautiful hallowed glow of complex dark plums, currants and camphor on the nose with a sense of warm pebbles and earth. Highly supple and open with a delicious lift of ripe dark berries, exuding striking acidity and fabulous intensity even though the fruit may seem slightly recessed, subtly structured with exciting tannins. Quite sublime. May still not be ready even as it mellowed further in the glass. Excellent.

2005 Château Lafleur. From the depths of its very impressive impenetrable garnet red arose the distant glow of rich dark plums and soy, the fruit searing the palate with an open flaring intensity, still tight but not closed, developing characters of warm gravel and pencil shavings that are seamlessly integrated with highly detailed but subtle ferrous minerals, maintaining an overall darkish tone as it traversed the palate with excellent linearity. Far from ready but this will eventually morph into a definitive Lafleur. Superb.

1958 Blandy’s Madeira Bual. Fully mature opaque brown, exuding a sharp mentholic lift on the nose though tight and narrow in body, marked by powerful tones of licorice and glycerine. For connoisseurs only.

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