08:59am, Friday 5th May 2023 – the 1275 team arrives at Château Lafleur (Swiss precision). It’s our last Bordeaux 2022 en primeur tasting, and one we’ve been looking forward to. The wines will be excellent – we know that already, but visiting this special place sort of feels like coming home.
On arrival, Baptiste Guinaudeau is playing with his new toy – a vine-spraying tractor which recycles all the spray matter usually lost to the air or the ground. “That’s real Organics. Horses look nicer for the pictures, but they can’t do that job”, jests winemaker, Omri, as he steps out of the house to greet us. He won’t mind us saying he feels very much part of the family at Lafleur, after 10 years working alongside the Guinaudeaus.
We stand in the courtyard overlooking the Lafleur vines in front of us, a few rows of vines to our left that were once a vegetable garden and duck keep to Baptiste’s ancestors. And so begins the welcome annual reminder of where we are, what’s around us, how the estate came to be – an opportunity to listen, breathe in the vineyard air, let shoulders drop, and shrug off any pomp and circumstance that has no place at this exceptionally down-to-earth property.
“Now time for the fun part”, Omri announces, showing us inside the winemaking cellar which doubles as the tasting room. His summary of the 2022 vintage starts short: “basically it’s taught us that we need to stop talking about numbers” – he means IPTs to measure tannins, pH for acidity, and so on. “From the heat and the drought, we expected big and flabby, but it’s not what we got”. He talks about the vines like they’re people, a part of the workforce whipping themselves into shape. “The vines were marathon training in the heat from very early on in the growing season. In other years like 2020 we get vines that are fat and lazy after an easy spring – then it’s not so easy when the heat comes”.
We could relay more intricate detail, but this is less a technical breakdown of the latest vintage (though the wines are sublime), more an exercise of reflection on the team’s attitude in shepherding its land and vines towards something extraordinary. Just as the wines are harmonious, so the people that make them together – Jacques, Sylvie, Baptiste, Julie, Omri, Ralitsa, and all the workers whose names we’re slightly ashamed not to know at this point – work in absolute unity.
Being able to taste the bottles they produce is a privilege. Understanding how they were made, the memories of each vintage, the personalities behind them, is to us the essence of what it means to enjoy wine.
For those less familiar with Château Lafleur and the Guinaudeau family, we’ve provided a summary of the estate’s history and wines here.