About this WINE
Domaine des Comtes Lafon
Domaine des Comtes Lafon has the deepest and coldest cellars in Burgundy and they nurture some of the greatest dry white wines of Burgundy. Dominique Lafon is the leading producer in Meursault, producing wines of astonishing depth and complexity, yet supremely balanced as well.
The domaine dates back to the building of the house and cellar at Clos de la Barre by the Boch family in 1869. However the real creator of the estate was Comte Jules Lafon who married Mademoiselle Marie Boch on St Vincent’s day 1894, and was shrewd enough to purchase exceptionally well sited plots in the best vineyards of Meursault and Volnay, as well as a treasured piece of Le Montrachet acquired in 1919.
Dominique Lafon has been in charge since 1985, taking over a domaine which already had a reputation for outstanding, if irregular whites, and potentially good reds. When Lafon took over the domaine, most of his vineyards were leased out on a share-cropping basis. It was only towards the end of the 80s that he managed to reclaim all the vineyards and thus have full responsibility for them.The white wines are now consistently among the best in Burgundy while since 1989 the reds have reached the top division. Not only are the Lafons' holdings in the best vineyards of Meursault and Volnay, but they are mostly very well situated within the vineyards. The domaine is now cultivated according to biodynamic principles with no use of herbicides or chemical sprays. All the wines are barrel-fermented, using new oak for the 1er Crus upwards. There is only one racking after the malolactic and the wines are bottled nearly two years after the vintage, one of the latest bottlings in Burgundy. This is the very pinnacle of White Burgundy with superlative fruit, power, complexity and total harmony being the wines' hallmarks. The reds (incl. those from Volnay, Monthélie) are first class as well.
In September 1999 the Lafons bought a domaine in the Maconnais at Milly Lamartine, sold under the label of Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon. Further vineyards have been bought subsequently, and from 2009 there is a contract in place to farm the vineyards of the Chateau de Viré. Dominique has also established a small label of his own, the wines being made in Beaune.
The white wines are whole bunch pressed then settled in tank at 12°C for 24 hours. No new oak is used for the village wines, up to 70% for Charmes and Perrières, less for Genevrières, and 100% for Le Montrachet, though these are subsequently racked into older wood. The wines spend a second winter in wood
The red grapes are 100% destemmed and put in stainless steel tank with a cooling and heating system. Temperature reduced to 14° for a three to five day pre-fermentation maceration. The vats are typically punched down twice a day during fermentation. Post-fermentation maceration depends on the tannins, while sometimes the juice is pressed and run off into barrel to finish fermenting there. 30% new oak is used. Maturation takes place over 18 months with two rackings before bottling without fining or filtration if possible.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Puligny was one of two villages (along with Chassagne) which gained permission in 1879 to hyphenate the name of its most famous vineyard, Montrachet, to its own.
The reputation of Puligny-Montrachet is based around its four Grands Crus. Montrachet labels often boast a noble, triumphant ‘Le’ in front of its name, lest you dare confuse it with any lesser wine. It has much to be proud of, with many considering Montrachet to be the greatest white wine in the world. At its best it has an intensity, complexity and elegance that make you wonder how such a wine could be made from mere grapes.
The luxurious and explosive Chevalier-Montrachet is not quite as deep, although it is probably the next best. Only marginally less impressive, and rather more consistent than Montrachet is the richly textured Bâtard-Montrachet (also shared with Chassagne). Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet is equally good, with the focus on honeyed finesse and exquisite balance rather than richness.
These legendary wines are supported by a host of fabulous Premier Cru vineyards capable of reaching Grand Cru quality. Brimming with flavour and intensity, Le Cailleret and Les Pucelles (which both lie across the road from Le Montrachet) are prime candidates, along with Les Demoiselles, Les Combettes and Folatières.
Sandwiched between the larger Chassagne and Meursault, Puligny produces wines that are more striking than any in the Côte d’Or, portraying a floral elegance alongside a stylish, steely concentration. They are very different to Meursault: more refined and delicate, and less rich.
Village level Puligny-Montrachet from top growers can be very good indeed, but is all too often unexciting and disappointing. Grands Crus normally need at least eight years before they can be broached, and last for 20 or more. Premiers Crus should generally be enjoyed between five and 15 years of age; village wines from three to 10 years.
In theory, you can find red Puligny-Montrachet, but it scarcely exists anymore, and is rarely worth the price tag.
- 114 hectares of village Puligny-Montrachet
- 100 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (17 in all). The best vineyards include Les Demoiselles, Le Cailleret, Les Pucelles, Les Combettes, Les Folatières
- 21 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Le Montrachet (part), Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet (part), Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet
- Recommended Producers: Leflaive, Carillon
- Recommended Restaurant: Le Montrachet (excellent cuisine and good wine list; also an hotel)
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.