Château La Fleur Garderose

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 Over the last few years, we have witnessed a small revolution among the vignerons in this historic region. Rising from the ashes of over-oaked, over-marketed, and often uninspiring wines, we find a group of thoughtful and talented individuals who are determined to bring terroir to a region that has almost entirely obliterated this ideal over the last few decades.

We have always been proud of our strong selection of small classic Bordelaise producers. Recent discoveries include Clos Saint-Andre in Pomerol (a vigneron working a .5-hectare organic vineyard with a horse and plow) and Château Auney l’Hermitage (our new thoughtful grower in Grave who makes classic Burgundian-leaning reds and energetic whites from organically worked vineyards).  Both have refreshed our excitement for this classic region. The stubbornly heroic holdouts of Château Le Puy (with whom we’ve just started working this year) and Domaine du Jaugaret both make museum-worthy wines of unbelievable character that have the rare ability to reveal to you the very root of what made Bordeaux king in the first place. At this moment, we feel we have reached a tipping point from our decades of work here, assembling a Bordeaux portfolio that is unrivaled in its quality and personality.

Joining this revival is a new, yet familiar, name to our Bordeaux roster:  Château La Fleur Garderose which is made by our long-time collaborators, the Pueyo family, in Saint-Emilion.  We have been working with their Saint-Emilion, under the moniker Belregard Figeac, since the 1996 vintage as well as their excellent Bordeaux Rouge, Tellus Vinea, since 2002.  Belregard Figeac, always an excellent source of honest and classic right-bank Bordeaux, shows significant improvements since Jacques Pueyo’s son, Christophe, joined the family business in 2010.  As is often done with the new generation, Christophe began making changes at the domaine, converting their vineyards to organic viniculture and making some dramatic changes to the elevage.  Since 2012, Christophe has begun to replace the small barrique in the cellar with neutral demi-muid and foudres, which he buys from the Austrian cooperage Stockinger. Christophe has also instilled a gentler and more natural approach than was the norm with his father and uncle.  The results of these changes have been crystal-clear during our recent tastings.  Today the wines exhibit a purity of fruit and vibrant energy that was not present in the past. Seeing these positive changes, we have found it easy to expand our work with this family.

The cellar work for Château La Fleur Garderose is straightforward. The wines undergo roughly a weeklong cold maceration with little to no pigeage and pumping over. Fermentation, which  is started by natural yeasts,  takes place in concrete tanks over roughly 3 weeks, after which the wines are aged in a combination of barrel sizes  (foudre and demi-muid) for approximately 18 months before they are bottled without filtration.  Very little sulfur – typically about 6 grams – is added to the wine during elevage.  Essentially, Château La Fleur Garderose is a selection of the best vats from the Pueyo cellar.  Both bottlings are the more serious companions to the Belregard Figeac Saint-Emilion and Tellus Vinea. The difference in quality from that of their counterparts is not generally in elevage, but in the quality of fruit.  In the glass, both show a greater structure and concentration, and perhaps will need more time in the bottle to unleash their full potential. [Please see Chateau Belregard Figeac]

Château La Fleur Garderose 2015 Bordeaux Rouge: The Pueyo family works 3 hectares of vineyards outside of St.-Emilion in Julliac to make this wine.  The vineyards here are a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  The 2015 is roughly 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Elevage for the Bordeaux rouge is done entirely in cement tanks, and then bottled after about 12 months.  The 2015 is quite serious, with warm earthy fruit on the nose, but a great deal of fresh fruit on the palate.  This Bordeaux rouge is much more structured than the Tellus Vinea, showing a firm mineral backbone and much greater length on the palate.  Fresh, honest, and complex, it reminded me of a serious Chinon. Our 100 cases for the USA just arrived at our warehouse last week.
Château La Fleur Garderose 2014 St. Emilion Grand Cru: Here the Pueyo family works 7 hectares of vineyards distributed among several parcels around Libourne. The average age of their vines is about 45 years. The 2014 is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet sourced from their best parcels.  Dense and savory, the fruit for the ’14 leans dark – hinting tightly wound blackberry and currant influences.  The wine is quite pure and fresh with little to no influence from the wood; there is an admirable purity to the ’14. It is young and structured with a brisk acidity and firm tannins, and is perhaps a bit wound-up. It could benefit from a quick decanting or, even better, a bit of time in bottle.
La Fleur Garderose Saint-Émilion Grand Cru “Hellebore”: This special and limited bottling is made from a select parcel of 100% Cabernet Franc from the Pueyo’s vineyards in Saint-Émilion. This cuvée shows impressive concentration and more structure than their traditional Saint-Émilion which, in contrast, is composed mostly of Merlot. Limited in production; only 25 cases are available for the United States annually.

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