About this WINE
Olivier Leflaive is the son of Joseph, nephew of Vincent and cousin of Anne-Claude. He was co-manager of Domaine Leflaive with his uncle Vincent from 1982-1990, and with Anne-Claude from 1990-1994, by which time the négociant business, which he had started in 1985 in order to have some wines to play with outside Puligny-Montrachet, had really blossomed. It was time, in the interests of both parts, to withdraw from the domaine and concentrate on Olivier Leflaive Frères. He employed the talented Jean-Marc Boillot as winemaker and initially had no vineyards and bought in grapes from selected growers.
I should not have used the term ‘négociant’ to describe this business, as the word is never used on any of the labels which specify that the wines have been vinified, matured and bottled by Olivier Leflaive Frères. Olivier wants to make clear the distinction between his operation, where all the wines have been vinified whether purchased as grapes or must, and the type of négociant who buys vinified wine in barrel, or indeed even already bottled.
Production is now around 70,000 cases across 65 different appellations, 85 per cent in white wine. Included in the production are his own vineyards which cover 15 hectares in Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault. Wines which are solely from Olivier Leflaive’s own vines are marked ‘Récolte du Domaine’. These holdings are about to be swelled with the proportion of Domaine Leflaive due to Olivier and his brother Patrick, which they have been able to take back at the end of an agreed 18-year lease with the domaine.
Under the auspices of winemaker Frank Grux, since 1988, the wines are vinified exactly as they would be at any other first-class Burgundy domaine, with all the whites being barrel-fermented and being aged in small oak barriques. Olivier Leflaive is looking for elegance and finesse rather than power and ‘specularité’. There is little new-oak effect and his wines are usually attractive young. The wines are hallmarks of elegance and purity rather than muscle and are more than worthy of the famous Leflaive name.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
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 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.