About this WINE
Olivier Leflaive studied at business school before heading to Paris, where he lived a rather bohemian life in the 1970s. He returned to Burgundy in ’81 to manage Domaine Leflaive with his uncle Vincent and, later, his cousin Anne-Claude.
He set up his own négociant business in ’84, leaving the family domaine a decade later; he gave 15 years’ notice that he would take back his share of the vines.
Winemaker Franck Grux now makes 85-90 different cuvées, vinifying the equivalent of 120 hectares – 17 of which are estate-owned. The focus is on elegance and finesse over power.
The region of Montagny in the Côte Chalonnaise, which includes the communes of Buxy, Jully-lès-Buxy, Montagny-lès-Buxy and Saint-Vallerin, is an appellation which dedicates itself entirely to the production of white wines. These wines in themselves are also exclusively made from the Chardonnay variety of grape.
In the past, wines from Montagny could claim Premier Cru status as long as their alcohol content exceeded 11.5%, a rule which transcended the regular Premier Cru classification in Burgundy. These days however the modern system of attributing Premier Cru status is undertaken in Montagny, and despite this the appellation is still able to boast that around two thirds of its vineyards retain the prestigious Premier Cru classification, an extremely high proportion of high quality vineyard. Unfortunately for the producers this large number of Premier Cru vineyards means that certain names are diluted and find it harder to establish themselves as leading growers, leading some to simply declare their wines as ‘Montagny Premier Cru’ without naming the vineyard of their origin.
Montagny’s white wines are known for their higher acidity and more robust body than other Chalonnaise whites. The high levels of limestone in the soil help to develop these facets, as well as imparting a certain beneficial minerality on the wine.
Chardonnay is often seen as the king 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.