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Dream Come True

Posted: Nov 6, 2006 10:07am ET

Are there some wines that you have always wanted to taste in your life but never have? One for me is the legendary 1947 Château Lafleur, the small-production Pomerol made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. I have always heard how legendary this wine was and how it was an icon for lovers of great Pomerol.

Yesterday I drank it (I didn’t spit) during a tasting of Lafleur in Beverly Hills at Spago and it was wonderful. Bipin Desai, the well-known wine collector from Southern California, organized the tasting. The 1947 Lafleur was a heady rich red that was concentrated yet elegant—a velvet-handled sledgehammer. Layers of round, caressing tannins melted in my mouth. There were loads of flavor sensations in this wine: blackberry, mint, dark chocolate, wet earth. Big free association went on in my head drinking this wine. I gave it 100 points in this non-blind tasting.

I also thought that the 1950 was very, very close to the 1947. It was even more Port-like, more powerful, concentrated and rich yet maintaining the complexity of a wine more than a half-century old. Unfortunately, the 1945 was served on Saturday and I had to be at an event in Vegas so I couldn’t taste it for comparison. A 1952 and 1959 were also at the tasting and they were sublime.

Lafleur is a wonderful wine estate in Bordeaux. Whenever I visit owner Jacques Guinaudeau at the small winery, just a stone's throw from Pétrus, I get the feeling that I am in Burgundy or the Rhône. No corporate jets or flashy cars here. Jacques does almost all the work himself in the 10 acres of vines and garage-like cellar. This is truly a handmade wine. And the 1,000 cases or so of the wine made each year are among the most sought-after in the world—on the same level as Pétrus or Le Pin.

I spoke to a number of wine collectors at Desai’s small tasting and they said that the bottle we tasted of the 1947 was not up to par with what they had had in the past. It was apparently not as concentrated as they expected. Granted I did not taste the wine blind at the Spago tasting, so I was influenced by the year on the label. But I loved the wine nonetheless. It was a 100-point experience and fulfilled a dream!

Thomas Bohrer
Hong Kong —  November 6, 2006 9:02pm ET
James you are getting old my friend, or you are tasting to many great wines.....You had a Magnum Lafleur 1947, 4 years ago here in Hong Kong and you rated it 100 Points. It was in a Blind flight with Petrus, Le Gay, Cheval Blanc and L'Evangile. So your dream has already become true 4 years ago......Keep those brain cells alive!!!!!!
James Suckling
 —  November 6, 2006 11:05pm ET
Thanks for reminding me... I have a short memory! Anyway, it was a dream...both times.
Alexander Wong
Hong Kong —  November 7, 2006 1:41am ET
Has it been 4 years already? I remember that....Lafleur 47...100 points no doubt. We had great company that night, which is just as important. James, you coming to HK again soon right? Looking forward to having you here again.
James Suckling
 —  November 7, 2006 9:32am ET
Hey Alex. I just went through my notes on the computer but I don't have some of the written ones since I am on the road. Wasn't that 1947 mag corked?
Rob Lentini
Alexandria, Virginia —  November 7, 2006 10:26am ET
I've always wanted to see Hong Kong if you're getting an invite list ready! ;) My mother considered taking me over from Japan when I was younger, but didn't.Quite amused that you forgot that, JS. But in your defense, I recall your write-up about your Hong Kong experience, and it was truly out of this world. Too spectacular on the whole to fully aborb all the details individually. I can come and takes notes next time if you'd like...
Alexander Wong
Hong Kong —  November 7, 2006 10:05pm ET
James, I think you are right this time. I looked up my notes from that dinner and I think the wines were Cheval blanc, Petrus, L'Evangile, Le Gay and Clos de Jacobin. This was a very nice blog to read. Lafleur has always been one of my favourites. Their wines are always so floral and so well structured. There is definitely a distinct Lafleur character. If you look at past vintages from the 70's and 80's of all the big first growths, you will see that Lafleur is the most consistant across the board. The problem is finding them!

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