Dominique Lafon is one of the iconic winemakers in Burgundy – known for his excellent white Burgundies and to some degree also for his fine reds from Volnay and Monthelie.
Dominique Lafon about the reds
I have followed the Lafon reds since the late 90s and have also tasted some older vintages dating back to when Dominique’s father was in charge of the wine making. This tasting was however my first opportunity to hear Dominique explain about his wines and his thoughts about the wine making – changes in style and vinification during the last decades.
One of the big changes at the domaine is the conversion to biodynamic viticulture. This proces was started in 1995, and after 1998 all the vineyards were converted. This change has gradually improved the expression of the terroir in the wines, and really added to the quality of the wines. Normally it takes around 5 – 10 years to see the full effect of the conversion to biodynamic viticulture.
For the reds Dominique explained the change away from the more extracted style in the mid 1990s – moving on to more terroir driven classic red Burgundies. He was very open about this proces, and allthough he may regret the extraction in the 90s his 1997 Volnays showed beautifully.
The Volnays from Comte Lafon
Dominique Lafon makes four different Volnays – a generic Volnay village made from the young vines on Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu, a Volnay Champans 1er cru, a Volnay Clos des Chenes and last but not least Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu.
The tasting program – Comte Lafon Volnays
- Volnay Champans 2004
- Volnay Champans 2002
- Volnay Champans 1997
- Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 2004
- Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 2002
- Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 1997
Tasting Notes from the Comte Lafon Volnay Tasting
Volnay Champans 2004
The Volnay Champans 2004 is quite forward and slightly rustic. In the nose dark berry fruit, with a slightly green hint of pine needles. On the palate harmonious but also quite edgy with some tannins left. The fruit is pure and quite powerful on the midpalate – with dark berries and a hint of prune. It’s a quite robust and rustic wine – drinking well but will keep.
(Drink From Now) – Good (86p) – Tasted 24/05/2013
Volnay Champans 2002
The Volnay Champans 2002 is a lovely silky wine. In the bouquet dark and redberry fruit with a strong hint of liquorice and curry. On the palate very pure and harmonious – with a almost velvety character. It’s a quite intense and dense wine – but somehow also lightfooted – the finish is quite long and powerful with a lovely fruity note. The fruit is very ripe but without any overripe notes so far. A lovely glas of Volnay.
(Drink From 2014) – Very Good (90p) – Tasted 24/05/2013
Volnay Champans 1997
The Volnay Champans 1997 is surprisingly complex and deep for the vintage. In the nose red berry fruit – notes of raspberries and cherries – spiced with lovely hints of sous-bois and truffle peels. On the palate very subtle and delicious with a lovely silky midpalate fruit. It’s quite complex with a lovely long and harmonious finish … spiced with a slight note of coffee in the very end. Fully mature now – a true pleasure.
(Drink Now) – Very Good (88p) – Tasted 24/05/2013
Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 2004
The Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 2004 is more backward than the Champans. In the nose dark berry fruit, with a slightly oaky hint and some smoky animalistic note spized with a whiff of curry. On the palate more refined and harmonious than the Champans – with a quite lovely almost silky fruit on the midpalate. A lovely and quite refined Volnay – very impressive for the vintage.
(Drink From Now) – Very Good (88p) – Tasted 24/05/2013
Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 2002
The Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 2002 is a refined and slightly backward wine. In the bouquet dark berry fruit with some slightly meaty/animalistic notes. On the palate very pure and refined – with layers of quite undeveloped fruit – it’s more refined and elegant than the Champans – with a good mineralic focus in the long and quite intense finish. Need some time to show the full potential – a lovely Volnay in the making,
(Drink From 2017) – Fine (92p) – Tasted 24/05/2013
Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 1997
The Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 1997 is more restained and focused than the 97 Champans, but in my view also lacking some of the charm in the lovely Champans from this vintage. In the nose red berry fruit – notes of raspberries and cherries – spiced with discrete hints of coffee, truffle and liquorice. On the palate good focus and length – more refined and linear than Champans – and a bigger wine. Is however lacking a bit of the silky midpalate charm found in the Champans – and seems a bit restained and distant. Nevertheless a very nice wine.
(Drink Now) – Good+ (88p) – Tasted 24/05/2013
Concluding remarks on the Lafon Volnays
The Volnays showed very well, and it was very interesting to see the rather sharp contrast between the slightly rustic and extrovert Champans and the more introvert and refined Volnay Santenots.
The Santenots are no doubt bigger wines … from a better terroir … but sometimes they seem somewhat distant and restained when they are not fully matured – but given time they are lovely. They definately need more time than the Champans.
The overall quality is very good given the vintages – and the wines are keeping very well – if stored under ideal conditions like these bottles.
It’s hard to say something about the change in style, as the vintages are very different, but the 1997 seemed somewhat more extracted than the two other vintages.
After the reds … came the whites
The Volnays above were the first part of the Lafon tasting at Restaurant Sommelier in Copenhagen. The whites flights tasted after the Volnays are covered in a separate article – Tasting of Comte Lafon Whites 2000, 2004 and 2009
Thanks goes to Vinrosen, Dominique Lafon and Restaurant Sommelier for a great event.
Tasting notes from the tasting of the whites from Lafon
- Comte Lafon, Meursault Charmes 2000
- Comte Lafon, Meursault Charmes 2004
- Comte Lafon, Meursault Charmes 2009
- Comte Lafon, Meursault Clos de la Barre 2000
- Comte Lafon, Meursault Clos de la Barre 2004
- Comte Lafon, Meursault Clos de la Barre 2009
- Comte Lafon, Montrachet 2004
- Comte Lafon, Montrachet 2009