One of Burgundy’s legendary white wines is Domaine Leflaive’s Chevalier-Montrachet. While it’s not Montrachet, it is for many the domaine’s top wine – as the Montrachet is elusively rare.
Domaine Leflaive is the second-largest owner of Chevalier-Montrachet (Bouchard Pere et Fils is the largest) and it has several beautifully located plots in the vineyard.
Let’s go to Puligny-Montrachet and take a closer look!
Domaine Leflaive’s holdings of Chevalier-Montrachet
Domaine Leflaive owns 1.8273 ha of Chevalier-Montrachet located in the middle of this mighty grand cru, above the Montrachet holdings of the Marquis de Laguiche.
The 1.8273 ha includes six cadastre plots, and all are clustered in one section in the very middle of the vineyard (plots confirmed by Leflaive’s winemaker and Directeur Général Pierre Vincent).
According to its website, Domaine Leflaive divides the holdings into three sections (the map below is approximate):
- Chevalier du bas Sud (planted in 1957 and 1958)
- Chevalier du Haut (planted in 1974)
- Chevalier du bas Nord (planted in 1955, 1964 and 1980)
These sections do not follow the cadastre boundaries, but on the map below I have tried to show them as defined by the domaine.
The history of the Leflaive plots in Chevalier-Montrachet
The Leflaive presence in Puligny-Montrachet dates back to 1717 and is described in quite some detail in Clive Coates’ excellent 1997 book “Cote d’Or.”5
Over the years, the Leflaive family has built a fine portfolio of vineyards. In 1835 it owned five hectares, including parcels in Batard-Montrachet. But by 1905, when Joseph Leflaive took over, the holdings were down to two hectares.5
In the aftermath of the phylloxera epidemic, many vineyards lay fallow, with the owners not able to finance their replanting. Joseph Leflaive made the most of these circumstances and started buying, and in reality brought together most of the Domaine Leflaive holdings we know today.
Looking at the 1892 work by Danguy & Aubertin,3 there is little or no evidence of a strong Leflaive presence in Puligny. The only mention is of Leflaive-Petitjean as an owner of Puligny-Montrachet Les Perrieres.
Thus by deduction, all the Leflaive plots in Chevalier-Montrachet were acquired after 1892.
Moving on to Rodier (1920),4 we see more mention of Leflaive, which is noted as an owner of Chevalier-Montrachet, Les Combettes, Blagny Blanc (Hameau de Blagny), Folatieres, Les Referts, Clavoillon and Les Pucelles.
This documents Joseph Leflaive’s expansion of the family’s holdings, what we could call the foundation of Domaine Leflaive.
It also shows that at least a part of Leflaive’s holdings in Chevalier-Montrachet was acquired between 1892 and 1920.
Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet – the wine
The Chevalier-Montrachet from Leflaive is in many ways a big wine, and while the Montrachet undoubtedly is the most acclaimed member of the estate’s lineup, the Chevalier is a serious step up from both the Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet and the Batard-Montrachet.
In my view, the Chevalier is more refined and multidimensional than the slightly more monolithic – but also magnificent – Batard. The Chevalier offers more detail; the minerality seems more filigreed, and is more generous and vinous.
The Chevalier is also more effortless than the Batard; its power and refinement go hand in hand, whereas the Batard shows off and impresses.
A great Chevalier is the closest one can get to a true Montrachet, and the best Chevaliers can easily match the lesser Montrachets quality-wise. The Domaine Leflaive Chevalier is indeed one of the top wines of the appellation, alongside La Cabotte from Bouchard Pere et Fils.
So how does it compare to the estate’s Montrachet? Good question. To be honest, I don’t know: I have not tasted the Montrachet.
I do, however, feel that the Chevalier lacks a bit of definition and precision compared with the best Montrachets, as well as the effortless delicacy and intensity of a Montrachet from Ramonet or Bouchard, for example.
Yet bottom line: Chevalier-Montrachet from Domaine Leflaive is one of the very best white Burgundies – and very best white wines – in the world today.
I will never forget the 2010 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet that graced the table for my 50th birthday: a mighty Chevalier with Montrachet-like proportions.
References & Sources:
- Jules Lavalle, Histoire et Statistique de la Vignes et Des Grands Vins de la Côte d’Or (1855)
- Batault-Morot, E. Plan statistique des vignobles produisant les grands vins de Bourgogne. (1861)
- M.R. Danguy et M. Ch. Aubertin, Les Grands Vins de Bourgogne (1892)
- Camille Rodier, Le Vin de Bourgogne (1920)
- Clive Coates, Cote D’Or (1997)
Sincere thanks to Ian Westcott for the editorial help on this article.
Latest tasting Notes for this vineyard
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Chevalier Montrachet 2017 April 25, 2019
- Maison Louis Latour, Chevalier-Montrachet Demoiselles 2015 March 31, 2018
- Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier Montrachet 2004 July 20, 2017
- Domaine Jacques Prieur, Chevalier-Montrachet 2013 May 13, 2017
- Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier Montrachet 2008 February 20, 2017
- Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier Montrachet 2006 December 22, 2016
- Domaine Heitz-Lochardet, Chevalier-Montrachet 2015 July 19, 2016
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Chevalier-Montrachet 2014 May 20, 2016
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Chevalier-Montrachet 2014 March 8, 2016
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Chevalier-Montrachet 2011 December 4, 2015
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte 2001 December 1, 2015
- Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Chevalier Montrachet 2008 October 24, 2015
- Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier Montrachet 2007 October 14, 2015
- Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier-Montrachet 2010 April 13, 2015
- Domaine Leflaive, Chevallier-Montrachet 2013 April 3, 2015
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Chevalier-Montrachet 2008 July 4, 2014
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Chevalier-Montrachet 2011 May 9, 2013
- Michel Colin-Deleger, Chevalier-Montrachet 1993 March 6, 2012
- Chateau de Puligny Montrachet, Chevalier Montrachet 2007 November 15, 2011
- Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier Montrachet 2004 October 6, 2011