Once we enter the cellars and see the facilities, we understand the need for the logbook. Lafleur’s production facilities are less than half the size of Pétrus’s, which are small in themselves, and there are only a few fermentation vats.“To retain the wines’ sophisticated qualities – delicious fruitiness and perfumed aromas – we avoid maturing the wines alone in new oak barrels. Therefore only a half of our barrels are new,” Guinaudeau says and explains that the final blending and winemaking are made at the end, in the oak maturation phase.
The oak maturation is monitored and the final decisions regarding which wines will be bottled under the Lafleur label and which as the number two wine, Pensées de Lafleur, are only made at the end. Ultimately there may be a few barrels that Guinaudeau rejects for either wine, and they are sold off. Even in the best years, the estate only produces 17,000 bottles, of which 12,000 are Lafleur and only 5,000 are Pensées de Lafleur.
Lafleur’s wines form an interesting contrast to their neighbour, Pétrus. Their terroirs differ significantly, even though the distance between them is only 50–100 metres. Whereas Pétrus is more seductively rich, full-bodied and intense, Lafleur is charming in its elegance, femininity and subtlety. Lafleur’s wines are delightful, but they do require aging for at least twenty years in order to display their full, nuanced character. Guinaudeau’s investments into improving quality in all of Lafleur’s functions promise an even better future for the friends of Lafleur. Although tasting the 1947, 1950, 1961, 1975 or 1982, one can only wonder whether Lafleur’s wines could get any better?