Château Lafleur: Wines

Following véraison onwards Jacques Guinaudeau and team follow the progress of the ripening with tastings and technical analyses, picking beginning when the skins and pips are ripe and free of bitter taste. The sorting begins on the vine, as damaged or shrivelled fruit is rejected by the pickers, the entire operation being, as you would expect, carried out by hand. The vineyard is harvested parcel by parcel, according to how the ripening has progressed. Jacques declares his aim is for perfect and appropriate ripeness, fruit that brings a freshness to the wine, and not sur-maturité.

Château Lafleur

I was struck when I spent some time with Jacques Guinaudeau (pictured above, mapping out the vineyard) in 2012 how clear the importance of vineyard management was over vinification; we passed the best part of two hours walking around the vines, looking at the soil, and observing the work in the vineyard, which at the time was the first effeuillage (leaf-plucking), undertaken in order to expose the still-green bunches of unripe fruit to the morning sun. There was much detail, especially with regard to the Lafleur terroirs, to take in here. When it came to the cuverie, however, the tour was over in just a few minutes. The vinifications are carried out in small cement vats for the grand vin, and in a small stainless steel vat for the fruit destined for the wine from the fourth terroir. There is a maceration lasting between 15 and 25 days before the new wine is run off into barrels, and after early tastings decisions on blending are made. With that explanation complete (I did warn you it was brief!), we moved on to take a look at what was a very small barrel cellar. In the years since that visit the cellars have since been expanded, to the left of the original house, although the facilities remain modest. As Jacques indicated with his peremptory account of the vinifications, it is what happens in the vineyard, not in the chai, that really matters.

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