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!