Baptiste Guinadeau described 2012 as an ‘exciting, interesting vintage, a vintage of three parts'. A wet spring and early summer which 'replenished and liberated' the soils after three years of drought. There was a risk of mildew, so lots of work was required in the vineyard, but they knew that the 'balance of the vintage could change quickly', and it did. The summer was dry and hot with 46 days without rain; this really helped maturity. The weather changed again in October and became cold and wet for the harvest. The team tasted berries every day to judge when the optimum time to harvest was. The Merlots for Pen sees were picked on the 4th of October and the Cabernets Franc on the 10th of October. The final blend will be 54% Merlot and 46% Cabernet Franc. We were very very impressed by this cuvee; it was even more pretty and polished than usual. There is something brooding and serious about the bouquet, but there are notes of flowers, sweet sexy plums, morello cherries and sweet bramble fruit. Wonderfully intense and fragrant with far more Merlot character this year. Some Cabernet Franc that usually goes into Lafleur was utilized in this cuvee. This is beautifully poised, balanced wine which finishes with pure redcurrant, vanilla and velvety chocolate.
If Le Pin caresses your heart and Ausone is a wine that gently stimulates every nerve in the body, Château Lafleur is THE wine that engages the mind. The term "intellectual" is often attached to this unique Pomerol property, not because it is overly highbrow, but because it is a wine that is so thought provoking. Deep, meaningful, and cerebral, softly spoken yet intense, it stands alone amongst the great names of the right bank. Usually produced from about 55% Bouchet (old vine Cabernet Franc) and the balance Merlot, and only ever given a maximum one third new oak, the miniscule 1000 cases production is the stuff of collectors and connoisseurs’ dreams. It is a wine of enormous depth and intensity fashioned from one of Pomerol's most exceptional and unique terroirs.
The chateau has been in the same family since its inception in 1872 – Baptiste is the great great great grandson of Henri Greloud, its founder. Jacques and Sylvie and their three children have been the exclusive owners since 2001, although they had previously been leasing the vineyards following the death of Therese Robin in 1984. Since their arrival there has been an even more quality focussed approach to all aspects of viticulture and vinification. Few winemakers can speak about their terroir with such knowledge. After the first full geological survey in 1999, Jacques decided to change Pensees de Lafleur (now called Les Pensees) from a traditional ‘second wine’ into a separate Cru. This part of the vineyard, which is missing the gravel content that makes Lafleur so unique, is better suited to Merlot and fashions a more ‘traditional’ style of Pomerol.
There have been many exceptional wines made throughout the last century, however, it is really only recently that the Guinaudeaus have received the plaudits they so richly deserve. The team is aided by Jean Claude Berrouet, the former winemaker at Petrus. They only utilise natural fertilizers, yields are low and they practice a less-is-more attitude when it comes to vinifications; they let their terroir speak through, and the results are simply astonishing.