Profile: Domaine Lafouge


Tasted in Auxey with Gilles Lafouge at the end of June 2018.

Domaine Lafouge
Rue du Pont Boillot
21190 Auxey-Duresses
Tel: +33 3 80 21 68 17

This 12 hectare domaine is now into its 5th generation, the son of Gilles, 20, is now at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune and working here. The domaine is 80% Auxey, Gilles points out that apart from a parcel of Meursault, his grandparents only had vines in the village – today he has a little Pommard too! Gilles commercialises roughly equal parts of red and white wine. In the 1980s his father bottled a portion of the production, from 1985 when Gilles joined, they slowly increased that proportion. Today, all is exploited by the domain, save occasional sales of aligoté in must.

Like many producers of Auxey, Gilles had to work across multiple small locations across the village but eventually found the space to build his self-contained cuverie on the edge of the village – the area for reds was built in 1997, the buildings last being enlarged in 2016 – today Gilles has modern, separate barrel cellars for his reds and whites.

Gilles’ approach is organic, without labelling. He notes that there are a lot of harvesting machines in Auxey, but all is done by hand here – regardless of the level of the wine. In 2016 the domaine produced 35-40% less due to the frost; “It was hard but we were not in the worst-affected areas. The whites on the Meursault side are earlier in their growth-cycle, so the frost was quite bad here, also in Ecusseaux near the Moulin aux Moines was bad – we lost about 80% – but the red hillside was less touched.

“I need to allocate wine after the recent low vintages. I’d like to keep 2016 back, giving it, maybe a year in the cellar, but there’s not really a chance. Interest has really increased in recent years – in the UK for instance.

Gilles explains, “I’m looking for direction with a little minerality, I don’t like heavy and I’m not a big fan of harvesting too early, but finesse of aroma and a little agrume I like!” He exports about one-third, the rest in France through agents.

The wines…

Gilles uses a technical cork for the aligoté, normal cork for all the other cuvees. These are good wines, the reds requiring a little patience – 1-2 years – to bring their aromas into proper shape, the whites less so, they seem directly delicious. A good address.

2016 Aligoté
On a hill exposed north-west, clay soil. A mix of barrel and tank elevage. The vines are in the commune of Auxey but are classed as ‘regional’ – they would be Côteaux Bourguignone if planted to chardonnay. Almost 60 year-old vines.
Fresh, cushioned yellow fruit. Bright, wide, a little oak cushioning, but with vivacity and energy – just a simply delicious wine that holds a serious finish.

2016 Auxey-Duresses Les Hautés
1.5 ha, with one parcel of 1 ha, touching Meursault Vireuils. All barrel elevage, 20% new.
A pretty nose, yellow-fruited again, with a little extra intensity behind. Beautiful texture, more depth and dimension of flavour – a fresh wave – slightly saline as it moves over the palate. Nice wine…

2016 Auxey-Duresses Les Boutonniers Blanc
0.8 ha in 2 parcels from the hillside on the Meursault side, touching Meix Chavaux.
A wider nose, yellow fruited, a floral scent in the centre. Mouth-filling, less overt energy, but more impression of cushioned minerality. Here there are long slow waves of flavour, more persistent and intense finishing. More composed longer lasting flavour. This is super, give it two years if you can…

2016 Meursault Meix Chavaux
Elevage exactly as for the Auxey. 12 months in barrel and another 5-6 in tank before bottling. 89 and 90-year-old vines in this cuvée
The nose here is similar to the previous, if a little narrower though with fine depth, slowly adding a little spiced top-notes. Ooh, yes! Transparent, mineral, a little more energy and salinity, mouth-watering, faintly spiced with long, super-attractive flavour. Really a very fine wine.

2016 Meursault Castets
Near Tessons and Gouttes d’Or. About 35-year-old vines.
An impression of more colour. A very different nose – there is volume but a more mineral impression – very faintly floral. Lots of width, directly mineral with a melting intensity of flavour. This is excellent, flowing over the palate, mouth-watering flavour, deeply mineral, faintly of agrumes. Great terroir wine!

Les Rouges
Vibrating table and triage, all destemmed, cool maceration for 5-6 days, followed by a relatively quick fermentation – normal maceration total is about 15 days.

2016 Auxey-Duresses
An assembly of 6 different lieu dits which allows a ‘decent’ volume 15,000 bottles. The vines around Petit Auxey are later ripening. Some vines in Hautés planted in the 1960s, some Ecusseaux, and also Crais after Petit Auxey – also later harvesting – ‘So it’s a round view of Auxey!’
A forward nose, dark-red fruited, quite deep and wild. Hmm, good texture and a widening panorama of flavour – tons of energy and interest in what is essentially a slightly wild wine but really of character and interest. Yum!

2016 Auxey-Duresses 1er Les Duresses
From the Monthélie side, 25% new oak, no racking before assembling for a couple of months prior to bottling around Dec/Jan
A fuller nose, more complex, dark-fruited again. Certainly more class, more supple, with good texture and depth of flavour. A late arriving creamy note in the finish – classy and long finishing. None of the rusticity of the first wine – classy and fine.

2016 Auxey-Duresses 1er La Chapelle
Only two producers of this, here and Henri Latour. Lafouge have 1.20 ha on the higher part of the hillside.
Here an extra freshness – the nose is less fruited and more mineral. Hmm – this is super – higher-toned, more open, really complex, compelling, even – not quite the same class of texture but the faint grain is not astringent. Lovely finishing flavour and it’s more floral and no less long. Super wine – wait a little for it to soften – but not too long – 1-2 years. Lovely…

2016 Auxey-Duresses 1er Climat du Val
Gilles follows the maturity during the harvest, first it’s Duresses, then Chapelle then du Val..
A dark nose, but it’s also a fine and slightly wild nose – it’s inviting. Depth of flavour, this is the USP of this wine – open, a little tannic grip but no astringence, dark flavoured, almost licorice. Contemplative. Very good persistence…good wine…

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