Robert Parker | 97+ RP
Robert Parker | 97+ RP
The 1990 Lafleur was similar to the bottle shown at the Lafleur/Petrus/Le Pin dinner. It is a vintage that I used to adore and in many ways, still do. However as I remarked during this vertical, it is one of the few vintages where the character of the growing season is translated over the signature terroir of Lafleur. Nevertheless, the nose is fresher and more vital than the previous bottle with glossy black fruit laced with undergrowth scents, this particular example exhibiting a light star anise aroma that intensifies with aeration. The palate is full-bodied with supple ripe tannin, layers of rich black fruit, powerful and voluminous. I feel that the Merlot is more expressive than the Cabernet Franc: smooth and sexy in texture, moderate acidity and glycerin towards the lush finish. It is a gorgeous Pomerol to drink, offering more sensory joy than intellectual stimulation. Hey, but sometimes that is exactly what you want. Tasted at the “International Wine & Business” Lafleur dinner at Ten Trinity, London.
Vinous Media | 94 VM
Still very closed, but big and rustic. Medium-red color. Aromas of meat, tobacco and fruit. Full-bodied, very chewy; mouthpuckering. Needs time.--1990 Bordeaux retrospective. Best after 2005. 1,500 cases made.
Wine Spectator | 92 WS
Wine Details for 1990 Lafleur
|Type of Wine||
: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Red Bordeaux Blend
: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.
Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.
For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.
Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.
The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
: In recent history, the wine of Chateau Lafleur has been outstanding. It could be argued that it is atop the Pomerol pyramid, rivaling even Petrus. This modern era success is impressive; stringing together bombshell wines from the 2000 vintage to present. However, the history of Lafleur does not begin with this slew of fantastic vintages but rather can be traced back to 1872.
At that time, Henri Greloud, the owner of Chateau Le Gay purchased the Pomerol vineyards of what was to eventually become Chateau Lafleur. He was experienced in the Bordeaux wine trade as well as a negociant. He had interests in St. Emilion at Chateau La Dominique and Chateau Daugay. Shortly after the formation of the new estate the quality of wines being produced at Chateaux Lafleur witnessed an extraordinary gain in quality. By 1893 it was considered the third best wine in all of Pomerol, following only Vieux Chateau Certan and Petrus. A rather hasty jump into the upper echelon of Pomerol greats.
While many Bordeaux chateaux have changed hands over the past several generations, Chateau Lafleur remains in the same family to this day. Each generation of the Greloud family has taken considerable care of the property. Between 1900 and 1984 the estate would be passed down through members of the family, each devoting their lives to keeping the Right Bank property producing top quality wine. In 1984, Jacques and Sylvie Guinadeau, the great grandchildren of Henri Greloud took control of the estate and helped bring Lafleur into the modern era and its climb to the top of Pomerol.
Today the 4.58-hectare vineyard, located in the heart of the Pomerol Plateau, is planted to 50% Cabernet Franc, 50% Merlot. There is no sign announcing you are in Lafleur as it remains a humble, understated property but their neighbors are quite recognizable; Chateau La Fleur Petrus, Vieux Chateau Certan and Chateau Hosanna.
The terroir is rather unique as it is comprised of four different soil types that complement each other very well. The northwest is a gravel hillock with brown gravelly soil. To the south it consists of brown sandy-gravelly soil over a gravelly-clay sub soil. The east end of the vineyard is comprised of brown sandy-gravelly soil over a sandy-clay sub soil. Located exactly dead center of the vineyard is a crescent-shaped area with deep soil ranging from sandy silt to brown sand.
As aforementioned, this combination of complementary soils gives the wine of Lafleur its uniqueness, balance, complexity and most importantly, its character. According to Jacques Guinadeau, “the soils are ‘poor,’ which makes them perfectly suitable for vine growing.” The team at Lafleur works tirelessly to enable the vines to unveil their best expression without excessive intervention. This includes raking the soil rather than turning so the stones are always on top, allowing the sun to radiate its heat into the soil overnight. Soil maintenance techniques have been implemented to aerate the soil without changing its natural structure. Work is never completed in the soil in July to favor the slight vine water deficit in the summer, which aids in the ripening process. The extreme care and respect for the natural terroir has helped to improve vine health and vitality.
In addition to its flagship, another wine is produced at Lafleur named Les Pensees; cleverly coined the “insiders secret,” due to its incredible quality, fair price and obscurity. The grapes used to produce this wine are sourced from the crescent shaped plot in the center of the vineyard. It is not considered a second wine as they feel it comes from a specific section of their Pomerol vineyard and its blend is quite different to that of Chateau Lafleur, making it its own unique wine. Annual production for Chateau Lafleur is around 1000 cases, while Les Pensees produces around 750 cases each year.