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2010 Ch. Lafleur, Pomerol
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Château Lafleur is A tiny 4.5-hectare Pomerol property located opposite Pétrus and producing wines of comparable quality. Lafleur is owned and run by Sylvie and Jacques Guinadeau. Its vineyards are situated on the gravel-rich Pomerol plateau and adjoin those of La Fleur-Pétrus. The soils here are particularly deep and are enriched by deposits of potassium and iron. Only natural fertilisers are used and yields are painfully low, even by Pomerol standards.
Lafleur's wine is typically a blend of Merlot (50%) and Cabernet Franc (50%). It is aged in small oak barrels (50% new) for 18 months. Wines from Lafleur display a spectacularly intense perfume (partly attributable to the high percentage of Cabernet Franc in the blend) and display layers and layers of concentrated, black fruits, minerals, tobacco spices and creamy liquorice on the palate. The best vintages can last for up to 50 years.
The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux and a grape that has been on a relentless expansion drive throughout the world in the last decade. Merlot is adaptable to most soils and is relatively simple to cultivate. It is a vigorous naturally high yielding grape that requires savage pruning - over-cropped Merlot-based wines are dilute and bland. It is also vital to pick at optimum ripeness as Merlot can quickly lose its varietal characteristics if harvested overripe.
In St.Emilion and Pomerol it withstands the moist clay rich soils far better than Cabernet grapes, and at it best produces opulently rich, plummy clarets with succulent fruitcake-like nuances. Le Pin, Pétrus and Clinet are examples of hedonistically rich Merlot wines at their very best. It also plays a key supporting role in filling out the middle palate of the Cabernet-dominated wines of the Médoc and Graves.
Pomerol is the smallest of Bordeaux's major appellations, with about 150 producers and approximately 740 hectares of vineyards. It is home to many bijou domaines, many of which produce little more than 1,000 cases per annum.
Both the topography and architecture of the region is unremarkable, but the style of the wines is most individual. The finest vineyards are planted on a seam of rich clay which extends across the gently-elevated plateau of Pomerol, which runs from the north-eastern boundary of St Emilion. On the sides of the plateau, the soil becomes sandier and the wines lighter.
There is one satellite region to the immediate north, Lalande-de-Pomerol whose wines are stylistically very similar, if sometimes lacking the finesse of its neighbour. There has never been a classification of Pomerol wines.