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Between the estates of Pétrus and La Fleur-Pétrus, amid vineyards, stands a stone house with closed shutters. The road that winds to the house between the vine rows has no signs or indications as to the name of the place. The construction looks more like a maintenance shed for the neighbouring estates than the main building of a winery. However, this is a house that makes one of the most desirable wines in Bordeaux: Château 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?
Bordeaux Vintage 1952 The recovery from the Second World War was slow and wine producers had many challenges ahead of themselves. Their production facilities were in poor conditions and there was no capital for investments. However, thanks to several great harvests, the period from 1945 up to 1961 has yielded some of the most heralded wines from Bordeaux ever made. 1952 was on a par to end up on the list of the greatest vintages from the period, among 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1953 and 1959.
In 1952, the season started with moderately warm and dry spring. The summer months from June to end of August were dry with daily average temperature of 20,5C. The temperature climbed over 30C on 29 days. Unfortunately the Mother Nature turned its back to the producers at the very end of the season. The rain and cold weather arrived on September 4 and for example in Pauillac it rained for 22 days. The rain diluted partly the crop and due to the cold weather the phenolic ripeness of the late ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon was left slightly short. Thus, the Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Left Bank did less well than the Right Bank, where earlier ripening Merlot is dominating. On the other hand the Right Bank avoided the worst rains during the September and producers like Cheval Blanc with Cabernet Franc –oriented wines, could harvest their crop same time in the middle of September under the better conditions than their colleagues on the Left Bank.
According to our experience the best wines of the vintage have been Cheval Blanc, Pétrus, l’Eglise-Clinet and La Mission Haut-Brion. However, we have been stunned every now and then with lesser known St-Emilions from this vintage. If we compare the prices versus quality of these wines, we can conclude them as the great finds of 1950s’ Bordeauxs that the most are drinking still lovely if the bottles have been restored properly. To get the best enjoyment out of these wines, make sure to decant them just fifteen minutes before serving as they do not handle the air as well as the better vintages.
As with the 1950, the 1952 also suffered from harsh tannins as a juvenile. After a long bottle maturation, this vintage has turned out to be an excellent find. The warm spring and early summer resulted in ideal germination. The hot and dry season lasted until September, which brought with it colder temperatures and rain. This change in weather dashed the hopes for what originally seemed to be an excellent crop year. Conversely, the rains did away with any fear of overly concentrated grapes. Weather conditions at the end of the year had a pronounced effect on the slower-maturing Cabernets. Consequently, the Médoc region suffered the greatest.
The Merlot-driven Pomerol and Saint-Émilion wines were able to mature very well; indeed, the finest wines of that year come from the right bank. Some excellent wines were also produced at Graves. Because the highly tannic character of Médoc wines has softened over the decades, the wines are extraordinarily drinkable right now. The finest examples could do with additional cellaring. Château Lafleur and La-Mission-Haut-Brion are the finest wines of this vintage. The château-bottled Pétrus, Trotanoy and Ausone run a very close second.
Bordeaux by Tb: The recovery after the Second World War was slow and winegrowers had many challenges to overcome. Their production facilities were in poor condition and there was no capital for investments. However, thanks to several large harvests, the period from 1945 to 1961 produced some of the most heralded Bordeaux wines ever made. 1952 is on equal footing to finish on the list of the greatest vintages of the time, among 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1953 and 1959.
In 1952, the season began with a moderately warm and dry spring. The summer months from June to the end of August were dry with an average daily temperature of 20.5C. The temperature climbed above 30°C in 29 days. Unfortunately, Mother Nature turned her back on producers at the very end of the season. The rain and the cold arrived on September 4 and for example in Pauillac, it rained for 22 days. The rain partially diluted the harvest and, due to the cold, the phenolic maturity of late-ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon was left slightly short. Thus, the left bank, dominated by cabernet sauvignon, fared less well than the right bank, where early-ripening merlot dominates. On the other hand, the right bank avoided the worst rains of September and producers like Cheval Blanc with Cabernet Franc oriented wines, were able to harvest their harvest at the same time in mid-September in better conditions than their colleagues from the left Bank.
In our experience, the best wines of the vintage were Cheval Blanc, Pétrus, l’Eglise-Clinet and La Mission Haut-Brion. However, we have been amazed from time to time by the lesser known St-Emilions of this vintage. If we compare the prices versus the quality of these wines, we can conclude them as the great finds of 1950s Bordeaux that most still drink well if the bottles have been restored properly. To get the most out of these wines, be sure to decant them fifteen minutes before serving, as they do not handle air as well as the best vintages.