About this WINE
Heritiers du Comte Lafon
In September 1999 the Lafon family of Meursault bought a domaine in the wine region of Maconnais at Milly Lamartine, renaming it Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon.
In May 2003 a further domaine of 6 hectares in the villages of Uchizy and Chardonnay was bought. Together the Mâcon domaine amounted to 14 hectares producing seven wines in all, four of them from single-vineyard sites. The most recent addition, from 2009, is a contract to farm the vineyards of the Château de Viré, with the appellation Viré-Clessé.
The whole operation, based at Milly, is now looked after by Caroline Gon under the supervision of Dominique Lafon. The vineyards were immediately converted to organic and now to biodynamic farming. The wines are vinified partly in stainless steel, partly in large wooden foudres (ovals) and partly in demi-muids - barrels of 600 litres, depending on the cuvée.
Jasper Morris MW is author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Saint-Véran is the southernmost appellation of the Mâconnais region of Burgundy, and consists of two areas, divided by the lands of Pouilly-Fuissé, that produce a dry white wine. Named after the town of Saint-Vérand which is included inside its jurisdiction, an administrative error in 1971, the year of the formation of the AOC, meant that Saint-Véran lost the‘d’ at the end of its name.
Saint-Véran produces both white and red wines, but due to its unique position as the most southern appellation of Burgundy, it technically overlaps into the northern boundary of Beaujolais, meaning that some of its communes produce reds to be sold as Beaujolais Cru, but whites to be sold as Burgundian, due to the inferred superiority over the more generic Beaujolais Blanc AOC.
Saint-Véran whites are generally well-regarded amongst the wine community, indeed their qualities were realised prior to its official classification as an appellation in 1971 by many aficionados.
They are all made from Chardonnay variety in the customary Burgundy fashion, but are known to be slightly more full-bodied than other varieties of white Burgundy. Notable changes occur during aging: Saint-Véran whites go from a floral and fruity youth to a nuttier and honeyed maturity. As with many wines from the Mâconnais region they also often display notes of minerality, something which is greatly desired.
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.