I was delighted that I had the opportunity to visit Domaine Leflaive on my March 2017 trip to Burgundy … to taste some of the 2015s with the new manager of the estate Pierre Vincent.
Me and Leflaive – we go back many years – and she (Anne-Claude Leflaive) has given me some of the greatest white Burgundy moments over the last 30 years. Sadly she only saw the spring of the 2015 vintage, as she untimely passed away April 5th 2015. So the 2015 vintage and the year 2017 sort of marks the start of a new era at Domaine Leflaive, as the estate has seen a change of management at the entrance to 2015.
Great moments with Domaine Lelfaive
When I began to collect Burgundies back in the early 1990s my financial resources were limited – as now – and I began with the reds buying some 1988s, 1989s and 1990s from but did not have the financial means to persue white Burgundies at the time. The first top end white Burgundies I acquired were 1991 Domaine Raveneau Valmur, and the next larger investment was some bottles of 1996 Leflaive – both village and some 1er crus. I just opened the last bottle of the 1996s a two years back – and the Laflaives have showed brilliantly over the years – exemplifying why one should definitely age white Burgundies. I have tasted quite many Leflaive wines from the early and mid 1990s and many of them have been among the best mature white Burgundies I have tasted – with the 1996 Batard-Montrachet as the pinnacle, followed by a number of bottles of the magnificent 1996 Pucelles. All great wines combining the unique quite flamboyant Leflaive style and the fresh acidity citrus driven style of the 1996 vintage.
I have seen the style of Leflaive do wonders in both lean and rich vintages – a quality they share with the magnificent wines from Coche-Dury.
Years has passed and for my 50 years birthday held at Restaurant Enomania in Copenhagen (my favorite restaurant) we had the 2010 Chevalier-Montrachet from Domaine Leflaive as one of the highlights in a quite strong lineup of wines.
Yes we go way back me and Domaine Leflaive … a lot of truly memorable Burgundy moments.
A shadow over Côte de Beaune
I have been very lucky with my Domaine Leflaive bottlings but have admittedly had some sad moments as premox swept over the Côte de Beaune .. and while this is frustrating to bring up … and to talk about … I do feel we need to address this and to move on, as I love my Leflaive moments.
Domiane Leflaive has moved on introducing the Diam closure in the wines from the 2014 vintage (Diam 30), and this is in my view a very important step to prevent premox ruining the future Leflaive moments.
The experiences from other estates show that Diam do prevent or minimize the bottle variation and the premox problem at least in the short term and medium term cellaring. The tests with Diam has been carried out since 2003 at some estates (William Fevre and Bouchard Pere et Fils), and so far the results have been encouraging and showing very fine and consistent results.
Most bottles are consumed within the first 10 years and problems normally show themselves after 4 to 5 years from the vintage – just when collectors start to open the bottles. My impressions is that Diam will minimize these early problems and collectors will be able to buy white Burgundies again without the risk of opening premoxed bottles after a few years.
So is Dieam the perfect solution – perhaps not – or perhaps it is – many still dream of using the natural cork again at in some point in the future – but for now Diam more or less solves the main problem with early oxidation.
The question still open is how they do for 20, 30, 40 or longer ageing in the cellar – as the solution only has been tested since 2003. So far the experiments has shown that the Diam works well for 15 years of cellaring … and as time goes we will gain further info about how they do after 20 years … and how fast – or should i say – how slow do they age over time. We need to explore this to gain confidence in long term cellaring and to understand how the wines age in the long run.
For most, this is however a highly or at least a rather hypothetical question – as most white Burgundies are drunk very or fairly early these days. I do however hope that minimising the problems will change the attitude a bit – so that people again will age the white Burgundies to a larger extend – as I adore a mature white Burgundy – and especially a mature white from Domaine Leflaive.
So let there be sun! – I’m happy with the Diam solution for the moment – and I’m confident that it will solve most of the issues I have had over the last 10 years … so bring them on the magic Leflaive moments.
The 2015s from Domaine Leflaive
As mentioned I had the opportunity to taste some of the 2015s from Domaine Leflaive with Pierre Vincent in late March. Pierre Vincent began at Domaine Leflaive in early 2017 taking over from Eric Remy as a winemaker, and also filling the shoes after Antoine Lepetit la Bigne as estate manager – Pierre Vincents official title is Directeur Générale at Domaine Leflaive.
Pierre Vincent is an open and friendly man who comes from a rather similar position at Domaine de la Vougeraie. He has just started at Domaine Leflaive – so cant blame him for the 2015 vintage nor can we give him full credit … whilst credit is otherwise due in this case, as the 2015s here are quite magnificent for the vintage.
The style of Domaine Leflaive is the perfect companion for a rich and generous vintage like 2015. The inherent freshness and charm of the vintage – the generous but vibrant fruit and the reductive style of Domaine Leflaive does lift this vintage to a very high level quality wise in my view.
Enough talk Mr. Winehog … lets taste some Domaine Leflaive 2015 …
Tasting notes for the 2015s from Domaine Leflaive
The tasting encompassed the top end wines – aside from the mighty and very scarce Montrachet. The lesser wines, and a few of the 1er crus had been prepared for bottling or were already bottled – so we tasted from Puligny-Montrachet Les Clavoillon and Les Pucelles and three grand crus …
For the record – the final assemblage of the cuvées has not been done, and I have therefore not tasted the final wine – so the notes below is only a rather vague indication ….
Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet Les Clavoillon 2015 The 2015 Clavoillon is forward and quite expressive with – slightly smoky reduction – yellow ripe fruits notes of white peach, acacia – brought forward by a fine citrus infused minerality. On the palate generous but well focused with a nice mid-palate energy and tension. It’s rich but also has a lovely freshness – Fine (90 – 92p)
Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 2015 To me Les Pucelles is everything but a Grand Cru – it’s the refined and complete wine, that develops the most delicate complexity when aged. The 2015 is no exception – with one of the most refined expressions of this rich and generous vintage. The nose is classic Leflaive with a nice floral refinement gun-flint, honey, white and yellow fruit. On the palate lovely balance and refinement – fruit quite lightfooted and airy with a fine citrus infused minerality – a refined and very harmonious Les Pucelles – very elegant for the vintage. Very Fine (92 – 94p)
The Bienvenue Batard-Montrachet 2015 is always the odd one out – although at step up from Les Pucelles and in a sense a continuation aromatically. The nose offer fresh citrus and mineral driven notes of white peach, pineapple and white flowers. On the palate quite generous and intense – bigger and more dense than Les Pucelles – but lacking a bit of the zen like harmony of Les Pucelles. In the end the bigger wine – Very Fine (93 – 94p).
The Batard-Montrachet 2015 is the heady and strong brother of Bienvenue – and normally all about extrovert power and minerality in it’s youth. In the 2015 vintage the ample fruit has however tamed the beast and produced one of the more refined young Batards I have tasted from Domaine Leflaive. The nose is brimming with stony minerality – citrus driven – notes of pineapple, white flowers and some more earthy notes. On the palate rich and quite muscular – yet surprisingly composed and refined for such a rich vintage. It should be noted that the sample tasted comes from the top part of the Leflaive holdings – so presumably the final blend could be a tad richer when including the bottom part. Very Fine+ (94 – 95p)
The Chevalier-Montrachet 2015 is a refined but also a quite monumental wine. The rich and generous fruit is beautifully complimented by the massive yet very harmonious mineral framework of Chevalier-Montrachet. Where Batard is about extrovert expression the Chevalier delivers in an slightly understated way – but make no mistake – it’s all there offering a tremendous depth, length and layers of complexity. The nose is brimming with rich fruit – white peach, pineapple and white flowers – exotic with a citrus infused filigree minerality having a quite firm grip on the aromas. On the palate rich and generous with a very intense underlying minerality. Lovely energy and tension on the mid-palate really take this wine to another level. This is like the others on the generous side – that is indeed the character of the vintage – but very balanced and compelling Chevalier – Outstanding (95 – 96p)
A great start for Pierre Vincent and a lovely set from Domaine Leflaive mastering the hot conditions in the 2015 vintage.