The 4.58 hectare Pomerol vineyard of Chateau Lafleur is planted in a shape that is unique to Pomerol as it is close to a perfect square. Chateau Lafleur is located in the heart of the Pomerol plateau. Their closest neighbors are La Fleur Petrus, Petrus, Vieux Chateau Certan and Hosanna. No sign exists announcing you are at Lafleur. It remains a humble, understated property. Four different soil types complement each other in a unique way to make their terroir.
To the north-west, they have a gravel hillock with a brown gravelly soil.
To the south, brown sandy-gravelly soil over a gravelly-clay sub-soil.
To the east, brown sandy-gravelly soil over a sandy-clay sub-soil.
Located exactly dead center in the middle of the Chateau Lafleur Pomerol vineyard is a crescent-shaped area with deeper soils ranging from sandy-silt to brown sand. This small,.69 hectare parcel is where the grapes used to produce Pensees de Lafleur come from.
The combination of these different, complementary soils gives the wines of Chateau Lafleur their uniqueness, balance, complexity and most importantly, character. According to the owner, Jacques Guinaudeau, those soils are poor, which makes them perfectly suited to grape vine growing. He added, “It is our job, as vine growers, to do everything to enable each vine plant to find its best expression. We have to monitor and follow the vines throughout their natural growing season, taking into account the character of each vintage and without excessive intervention”.
The soils at Lafleur are never turned. They are simply raked. This allows the large gravel stones to remain at the top of surface where the stones can capture and radiate the heat from the sun to the vines. At Chateau Lafleur, they installed a new drainage system that helps to remove excess rainwater during periods of wet weather.
They have also developed soil maintenance techniques (hoeing, spiking and deep ploughing) that avoid turning over the soil and result in improved aeration in the soil, while avoiding excessive transpiration in the spring. Finally, they never work in the soil in July to favor the slight vine water deficit in the summer. This aids in the ripening process.
At Chateau Lafleur, they manually prune and work with each vine, one at a time. Jacques says, “Lafleur’s vineyard is tended like a large garden where each plant is given its own particular attention”. This work is necessary at Chateau Lafleur, due to how the vineyard is organized. The organization takes into consideration both the terroir and number of vines. For example, in the gravel with clay soils, there are 7,500 vines planted. In the gravel with sand, that is in the middle of the vineyard, you find 5,250 vines. The largest section of the vineyard, with more clay and gravel soil, you find 8,250 vines. In total, there are close to 21,000 vines planted at Chateau Lafleur. Trust me on this, at Lafleur, they know each and every vine.
At Chateau Lafleur, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are often located next to each other in the same parcel or row of vines. The vines have been marked and color coded allowing the workers to know which vine is which. The vineyard is divided into 24 separate parcels. The vineyard is planted to a vine density that ranges from 6,000 vines per hectare to 7,500 vines per hectare. The vines are old, which gives the wine of Chateau Lafleur much of it’s character. The average age of the vines is close to 40 years of age, but the estate also has much older vines as well, because many of their vines were not replanted after the frost of 1956.