April 2000, Score: 93
This wine is a brilliant success, it is one of the stars of the vintage. Lafleur’s 1999 is atypically powerful and concentrated, with an inky, saturated purple color followed by a sensational nose of black cherry jam intermixed with liquid minerals, raspberries, and licorice. It is super concentrated, extraordinarily pure, with moderately high tannin. This dense, powerful, impressively endowed wine should turn out to be a classic for Lafleur. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2025.
The 1999 appears to be a sure bet. Readers may recall that Lafleur was one of the few Bordeaux vineyards to harvest before the heavy rains. The result is a dense purple-colored wine with terrific cherry cough syrup, licorice, truffle, and mineral aromas. Although tannic, it is full-bodied, dense, opulent, super-concentrated, and extremely long and well-balanced. It may turn out to be the finest Pomerol of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025.
Just when I thought Lafleur might be abandoning its high octane, backstrapping, full throttle style of winemaking, the 1999 was conceived. This precocious terroir, which had very low yields, was partially harvested on September 11, one of the earliest right bank properties to harvest (forgetting the hail-damaged St.-Emilion vineyards that were forced to pick after September 5). A blockbuster effort, the 1999 may be the most powerful wine produced at this estate in more than a decade. Atypical for the vintage, it boasts a dense purple color as well as an explosive nose of spring flowers, minerals, black raspberries, cassis, and kirsch. Enormous in the mouth, ferociously tannic, full-bodied, and powerful, it is hard to believe that such a prodigious wine could have been produced in this vintage. Black fruits (particularly raspberries) continue in the wine’s flavors. The finish is whoppingly long, but oh, so tannic. This is not for those seeking immediate gratification, as it will require significant cellaring (an aberration for a 1999 Bordeaux). Anticipated maturity: 2010-2035.
A bit of evolution at the rim, but essentially still pure purple. Very gorgeous now. Great power and depth and savour. Dry finish. Seems drier than the 2001. Jacques Guinaudeau told me he prefers his 1999 to the 1998.
Pomerol, Red Bordeaux
The small sub-region of Pomerol is situated north-east of the industrious city of Libourne. Pomerol’s soils are predominately iron-rich clay with a smattering of gravel that produce wines with extraordinary power and depth. As a result of this clay-dominance, it has the highest percentage of Merlot planted in all of Bordeaux. Certain châteaux are produced exclusively from this grape, but most incorporate smaller quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc as well. Despite its hefty (if not exclusive) proportion of Merlot, many people think of wines from this region as separate entities. As one wine aficionado stated recently, “It’s not Merlot. It’s Pomerol.” Despite the region’s small size, Pomerol contains some of the world’s most sought after (and expensive) wines including Pétrus, Le Pin, Lafleur, l’Evangile and Vieux Château Certan. Unlike other Bordelais subregions, there is no system of classification. The châteaux are traded on reputation alone.