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2011 Volnay, Mitans, 1er Cru, Domaine Michel Lafarge
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Michel Lafarge, now in his eighties, and his son Frédéric make use of their combined experience top produce some of the greatest Burgundy wines in Volnay. There is nothing modern in their winemaking, though the meticulous care of their biodynamically farmed vineyards puts the domaine at the forefront of viticultural practices. When they are working ona patch of vines they are usually accompanied by their hens who eat up any little pests which may be lurking!
They have around 10 hectares of vines and own some of the very best sites in Volnay. The vines are mature but not excessively old and yields are low without being draconian. There is very little new oak used, and the current mix is 5% new oak, with the balance of 2-to 5-year-old wood. The wines are handled as seldom as possible, with only a couple of rackings, a light fining and rarely any filtration.
The Lafarge domaine is run very much by instinct and respect for the terroir, with no sense of imposition and with biodynamic techniques. The wines are allowed to speak for themselves and are wonderfully fragrant, complex and harmonious - the essence of great Volnay.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
The finest and most elegant red wines of the Côte de Beaune are grown in Volnay, a village which might be twinned with Chambolle- Musigny in the Côte de Nuits, for the high active chalk content in the soil and comparatively low clay content.Whereas in earlier times Volnay was made in a particularly light, early drinking style, these days there are many producers making wines which age extremely well. The best vineyards run either side of the RN73 trunk road.