Sign In

Not registered? Create an account

Password Recovery

Sign up to our newsletter for market analysis, reports and selected offers
September 05, 2014

Busy Wine Lover’s Guide to La Fleur-Pétrus

ws-279x193t
Its neighbor might get all the attention, but Château La Fleur-Pétrus offers great wine at sharp prices, Jane Anson discovers.
Posted Thursday, 04-Sep-2014

The history

The property dates back to 1289, when Edward I established the Commanderie of Pomerol by defining several plots of land within the area, one of which was called La Fleur. The vineyard itself was first called La Fleur-Pétrus in the 18th Century by the Arnaud family (who were also owners of neighboring Petrus at the time). Eventually, in 1950, Jean-Pierre Moueix stepped in, buying his first-ever Pomerol vineyard from then-owner Jean-Pierre Garret, 13 years after arriving in Libourne as a wine merchant and starting his quiet revolution.

The vines at the time were in a single plot close to Petrus, but have now been joined by several other plots. Jean-Pierre’s son Christian grew the estate in 1995 by buying vines in the center of the Pomerol plateau near Château Le Gay, complete with a house that became the main reception area for La Fleur-Pétrus. In 2012, his grandson Edouard bought again with a few hectares of deep gravel soil to the south of the plateau, just next to Le Pin. And finally, the plot of vines that used to be used for Moueix’s Providence label (bought in 2005 and last produced under the name Providence in 2012) is also now – selectively – used for La Fleur-Pétrus. This final part is near the church in Pomerol village, and comes with a handsome limestone building that, as of July 2013, is the new La Fleur-Pétrus château.

With all of this action and investment, it’s fair to say that this is fast becoming the flagship of the Établissements JP Moueix properties (remember, of course, that Petrus itself is now split off into Christian’s brother’s side of the family). You just have to look at the size to know that Christian and Edouard Moueix are investing in the label – it has gone from nine hectares (22.2 acres) to 18.7 hectares in 10 years, which, in Pomerol, makes it a sizable player. The main replantings are happening at the site that was formerly Providence together with new drainage channels, winery equipment and cellars. “The rest of the vines are already in excellent shape,” says Frederic Lospied, communications director for JP Moueix.

The wine

The goal with La Fleur-Pétrus is to make “a beautiful expression of gravelly Pomerol,” says Lospied – in opposition, as hardly needs pointing out, to a classic clay expression of Pomerol such as Petrus. There is around 10 percent of Cabernet Franc in the wine, with the rest Merlot and around 40-50 percent new oak. Owner Edouard Moueix recommends drinking the 1998 from recent vintages, although adds that his “grandfather was kind enough to leave a few half bottles of the 1950, and it is stunning today”.

Fact box
First produced 1900s
Second wine: No second wine
Owners: Christian and Edouard Moueix
Size: 18.7 hectares (46.2 acres)
Production: Vineyard planted with 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
Winemaker: Eric Murisasco

 

I re-tasted the 2010 vintage a few weeks ago, and it is going to be amazing, perfectly combining power and restraint – but you’re going to need patience before opening it. Paul Hammond, director of London-based IG Wines, draws a clear comparison with Petrus. “The parallels between the two are so striking that it seems La Fleur-Pétrus is beginning to take advantage of its wonderful terroir and truly rival it; Petrus only really began its rise to global acclaim after World War II. The increased vineyard size has allowed La Fleur-Pétrus to come in line with Petrus in terms of production with 3750 cases a year. This is also important as it means they can produce enough wine to fuel the market, and there is no better way of building a brand than having people drink and talk about it across the globe, as sometimes a small production can work against leading estates.”

Hammond points out that the average case price of Petrus from 2008 to 2012 is £20,000 ($34,200) and their average Parker Points 97.8. La Fleur-Pétrus on the other hand has an average case price of £1400 ($2400) and 95.2 points. “The difference in quality does not justify the difference in price; this is down purely to the strength of the Petrus brand. All of this would suggest that La Fleur-Pétrus is massively undervalued and, in the long-term, offers excellent upside potential. In the short-term one can get something very close to Petrus at a fraction of the price.”

The people

First up here is owner Christian Moueix. He barely needs an introduction; think Pomerol, think Christian Moueix. He has followed in his father Jean-Pierre’s footsteps, but significantly increased the range and reach of the Moueix name (and in fact that of the entire appellation). Christian studied viticulture at UC Davis from 1968 to 1969, before returning to France and joining Ets Moueix in 1970. He became its president in 1991, and continues to work closely with all his estates, although now joined by his son Edouard Moueix, who is executive vice president at the family business. The cellarmaster at La Fleur-Pétrus (and all the Ets JP Moueix properties) is Laurent Descos, who has been with Moueix for around 15 years, and the technical director is Eric Murisasco, who trained alongside consultant, Jean-Claude Berrouet.

Not a lot of people know it but…

The official “home” of La Fleur-Pétrus has moved three times. Its latest – and now permanent, they say – home is that château building located near the Pomerol church spire. This iconic spire makes La Fleur-Pétrus pretty much the only château in Pomerol that you can easily find – even more so since the Moueix’s have very kindly run a flag up the flagpole proclaiming LFP. The winery was originally built here for Providence, but has now been given over to its stablemate.

What the critics say

Hammond is clear that La Fleur-Pétrus has upped its game exponentially in recent years: “From 2000 until 2007 its average Robert Parker score was 90.5. Since 2008 it has averaged 95.2 points and been awarded 97 points in 2009 and 2010.” In fact, during the 2010 en primeur campaign, Parker himself stated: “I had visited the 2010 Petrus about an hour before I had La Fleur-Pétrus. I was dumbfounded – it appeared to have a character nearly identical to the great Petrus.”