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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.
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Bottle 6 x 75cl
Bottle 12 x 75cl
After the hail the Lafarges made scarcely 10 hl/ha in 2012, and it wasn’t possible to make some of their wines at all this year. We expect to put the Premiers Crus into a mixed case and there is no Volnay Vendanges Selectionées this year. We know a vigneron is honest when he makes his generic wines such as Passetoutgrains and Bourgogne Rouge in such a year, but cannot offer some of the grander stuff! They are somewhat happier with 2013, though Michel, who is 85, says he has never known two such short vintages.
The Lafarges have managed to make slightly more wine than in 2012, but still only a third of a crop. They began on 3rd October and picked for 10 days. They report very good phenolic maturity, slightly low sugar levels, no rot, and very pure wines giving an excellent expression of terroir. Michel thinks that they will open up early but last a long time.
There is 40% less wine this year in the Lafarge cellar, and it is a great pity because the wines are exceptionally good. They began picking on 23rd September, bringing in ripe and healthy grapes which were slow to start fermenting. Michel Lafarge, as sprightly as ever at 83, describes 2010 as a happy surprise – nobody could have expected this quality at the outset.
Philippe Prost, long-time winemaker at Bouchard Père & Fils, is less flamboyant than his veteran opposite number at Jadot, but he still has firm opinions and he knows the detail of all his vineyard sites inside out. He clearly prefers his 2010 whites to the previous vintage, though we rather liked those too, while the fresh finish of the vintage has brought his excellent 2010 reds to life.
With a gentle and gracious bouquet, this 2011 is showing the potential to join the list of great Lafarge Clos des Chênes. Discreet, but potentially spectacular, which it certainly is in the mouth, the wine is backed by a crisp freshness and is a benchmark for grace and persistence.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Director
The Lafarge’s picked from 31st August to 6th September in 2011 and the fruit is fully ripe and balanced in every sense. Very healthy grapes were harvested that hardly required any sorting and gentle extraction has produced some beautifully fine wines which Michel Lafarge compares in quality to his 1952s. If this is the case, our suggested drinking dates would appear to be rather on the conservative side!