Château La Fleur de Gay 1993
As I continue to add more and more Bordeaux profiles to The Winedoctor this year, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that my knowledge of the region has a weak point, which is Pomerol. I think I have a decent understanding of the Médoc and Sauternes; I have tasted, purchased and drank the wines for many years now, and I aim to have comprehensive (although still not as exhaustive as I would like) coverage of these regions before too long. The same can be said of Pessac-Léognan and St Emilion, although I do not have so many bottles in my cellar, and what there is features just a few producers, most notably Domaine de Chevalier and Haut-Bailly in the case of the former, Troplong-Mondot and Larmande in the latter, although there are plenty of odd bottles from other estates.
The showing from Pomerol, however, is pretty light. A few bottles of Vieux Château Certan, Croix du Casse and then this week’s wine, the 1993 from Château La Fleur de Gay. Now this isn’t a vintage from which I normally turn when buying or drinking, and in fact this is (was!) the sole 1993 claret in my cellar. Nevertheless, even in weak vintages careful selection and appropriate handling in the chai can result in an excellent wine, and over the years I have enjoyed good (rather than superb) wines from Pichon-Lalande, Margaux (Pavillon Blanc in this particular vintage), Gazin, and certainly passable wines from many other estates including Gruaud-Larose and Pontet-Canet, although there have also been some serious disappointments along the way. But probably the most memorable was that from VCC, a superb wine for the vintage, and so I thought it would be interesting to see how another top Pomerol estate has handled itself in this difficult year. Fleur de Gay is a likely candidate for out-performing the vintage, this being a micro-cuvée produced from a small plot of ancient Merlot vines on the Croix de Gay estate, which in itself only amounts to 10 hectares. The proprietor is Alain Raynaud, not a man known for doing things by halves; today he seems best known for his involvement in the Lascombes turn-around.
But what of the wine? Well, having read around a little was expecting something good, but in fact this is a little stunner. I opened it just an hour in advance of dinner, and decanted it immediately. It showed a lovely, deep, concentrated colour in the decanter, with an almost inky appearance. And from the outset it has thrown off an array of exotic aromas that remind me how foolish I am to have such a tiny amount of good quality Pomerol in my cellar; there are notes of star anise and fine cigar-box, presented in a very slightly high-toned fashion, just at the level where it gives lift and brightness to the nose, this certainly isn’t a wine spoilt by volatile aromas. Underneath it all there is still some intense blackcurrant fruit which I also find very appealing. On the palate it has a full, not-quite creamy character, with a very grippy, precisely laid-out structure. Finely extracted, with lovely body and full, rich texture, this wine has a beautifully seductive style. Initially so stylish, the midpalate is where it reveals a little more tannin and precise acidity, revealing that there is no rush to drink this, and in fact at the end there is quite some grip, although to my palate it is quite ready now. A most impressive wine and my only regret is that excluding the small quantity I kept back for drinking the next day (which I am still looking forward to), I have no more. And looking at the prices on Wine-Searcher, it doesn’t look as though this is a wine I will be buying in huge quantities for the future. 18/20 (19/2/07)