Château Lafleur Masterclass April 2012

Wednesday 25th April 2012
We like to make a fuss when Jacques and Sylvie Guinaudeau visit London. As owners of Château Lafleur, they produce one of Bordeaux's true great wines from their small 4.5ha estate in the heart of Pomerol. So when it was suggested they come over to London to show their new 2011 vintage to customers just a few weeks after we first tried it in Bordeaux, we knew a special event was in order. 

Jacques & Sylvie Guinaudeau

Last Wednesday an intimate gathering of armit clients were treated to a tasting of the wines of Lafleur and Grand Village in the ballroom of The Connaught Hotel. The evening was co-hosted by The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin, guru of Pomerol (his book on the appellation will be published later this year) and long-time Lafleur fanatic.

Jacques & Sylvie Guinaudeau and Neal Martin

After canapés and champagne, the tasting began with the new 2011 vintage of Grand Village Rouge, the estate on the edge of Fronsac where Jacques and Sylvie live (Jacques was actually born in one of the downstairs rooms of the house). This wine gains in complexity and polish with each new vintage and was tasting even better than at the beginning of April. It is certainly one of best drinking reds of  2011

Grand Village

This was followed by Lafleur 2011 which, as with all young wines from the estate, was dense and coiled on the palate but showed a surprisingly generous nose. Jacques was keen to point out that the density of tannins seen in the fruit in 2011 meant delicacy was key when making the wine. Lafleur’s deep blue-clay soils (which also appear in Petrus and Vieux 
Château Certan) meant their vines were far less affected by drought than elsewhere in Bordeaux and their Cabernet Franc reached an optimum level of ripeness. This is a Lafleur dense with minerality and fruit and a worthy follow up to the 2009 and 2010.
'G' de Guinaudeau

Then the older vintages commenced. ‘G’ de Guinaudeau is the newest wine in the range and the inaugural 2009 vintage has come on beautifully since we last tasted it. Heady with Cabernet Franc, the 2009 is well built and complex and clearly shows the potential of this fascinating terroir. 2008 is a vintage still in its infancy and it was fascinating to taste Grand Village,
Pensées de Lafleur and Lafleur alongside each other.

There are definite parallels with 2011 to be seen with regards to structure although the fruit seems a little more lifted on the newer vintage. Then three Lafleur side by side – the2004, 2005 and 2009.  The 2004 is developing  well now and had an appealing toasty red fruit nose with savoury elements leading into plenty of earthy weight. The 2005 meanwhile is still an absolute baby. A composed, deep and concentrated wine with a heavy ball of liqueur black fruit on the palate and a quite simply staggering finish that may have lasted the whole evening were it not for other wines to taste. The 2009 in comparison is far more flamboyant with the additional warmth of the vintage giving a rounded, plush texture to the nose and palate. Both vintages are absolutely fantastic.

Guests enjoying the wines

The evening finished with the Grand Village Blanc 2011. The quality of the whites in 2011 is well documented and this is the best example of the white I have tasted. Fine and fresh citrus and orchard fruit leap from the nose but there is enough density and extract to suggest this will also age extremely well.
Our thanks go to Jacques and Sylvie for giving us the opportunity to taste such great wines in their infancy and to Neal for his insight into the wines and translation skills.

For full armit report on the Bordeaux 2011 campaign - click here

Blog by Nick Palmer


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