Leflaive – 2017


Tasted in Puligny-Montrachet with Pierre Vincent and Brice de La Morandière, 02 October, 2018.

Domaine Leflaive
Place Pasquier de la Fontaine
21190 Puligny-Montrachet
Tel: +33 3 80 21 30 13

Pierre on 2018:
Well yes, we have a new press, which helps us to be even more reactive! We started our harvest 26 August and are very happy. We just started some battonage – usually done until the malo starts – all the wines are in barrel and tank now. “​

The new press allows extra time for pressing and more precision – ‘it’s a detail change.’ But this is a detail concious team – both Brice and Pierre like to use the term precision when describing their work…

Pierre on 2017:
For us, 2017 was two-thirds of a normal volume vintage, with some mildew and a little frost in the bourgogne. So not a big volume vintage, but it was more the small appellations that were affected. ​2017 was another early vintage, we started only two days later than in 2018, but we saw a lovely balance between maturity and acidity. We started with a little Mâconnais, the ripeness there wasn’t blocked by the heat. ​Our grapes ripened quickly, so we were in the first wave of pickers – Biodynamics seem to give a more precocious maturity. We saw good balance and 12.5°-13° – finishing our harvest 05 September. No acidification was necessary – that’s thanks to the biodynamics. We harvested with a team of 60 people for the domaine’s 24 hectares, aiming to finish harvesting in one week, aided by maturity that comes all at the same time. We have two presses in the Mâconnais, and the must comes here once per day – those wines are vinified in another building close to the Hotel Montrachet. The yields were good – our cave de grand cru held only 8 barrels from the 2016 vintage, but in 2017 it’s 24.

The wines…

DIAM seals from the 2014 vintage.

I have previously shown a higher level of criticism for Domaine Leflaive than many other producers, but I consider that it has been justified by their positioning and pricing (the two are not always the synonymous) – other than La-La wines such as Leroy/d‘Auvernay and the Coche/Lafon wines, you will not find more expensive white burgundy, nor domaines with more history in the area – they are the flag-bearers of Puligny-Montrachet.
It’s clear that the domaine was not at its peak since about 2002, their beautifully precocious wines tiring far too quickly, but Brice, at the helm of the domain since 2013 has made some astute decisions; first moving to DIAM closures to put a brake on the wines evolving too quickly, then, perhaps even more astutely hiring Pierre Vincent to be responsible for the domaine – decisions made in the best order, as Pierre has never openly been a proponent of DIAM. Pierre’s first steps were to tighten the logistics of the wine-making process – arriving at the start of 2017 he could do little more with the wines of the 2016 vintage, but still avoided the movement of unfinished wine between locations. Since then the pair talk about being detail-concious and the small extra precisions in what they do.
I’m impressed by their calm demeanour, their determination and certainly by their 2017s. In recent vintages I’ve compared the results of this domaine, often less favourably, to the other Leflaive of the village – for two reasons I have not done the same this year:
1. Logistically because I have tasted the two producer‘s wines a little too far apart this year and
2. Practically because the domaine has such a fine set of wines in 2017; wines of weight, clarity and great personality – differences between these producers are more of style than quality this year.
For previously regular purchasers of the domaine‘s wines, who have hesitated to buy in the last years, 2017 is the perfect vintage to rekindle your love for what they do…​

2017 Mâcon-Verzey Le Chêne
Le Chêne is the name of the lieu-dit, first time separated in 2017 – modest volume but harvested at 12.8° from 40 hl/ha
Hmm, that’s nice, a vibration of subtle reduction on the nose. Wide, open, nicely mouth-filling, this is really excellent.

2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Le Chaneau
‘Unfortunately not a 1er cru – we think it should be’ under the rock of Solutre, plain east-facing, red soil. Bottling probably in January. This sees 20% new oak, the last was in stainless-steel, concrete and a little oak.
A fuller more yellow fruit nose, but with freshness. More depth, more complexity, a little more luxury to the texture. Sizzles with finishing interest!
2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Au Vignerais
This will be a 1er Cru.
A more serious nose, faintly mineral. The more direct and mineral in the mouth too, with lovely understated energy. The same treatment in elevage as the last but a very different wine. Excellent!

2017 Bourgogne
​Three large parcels bringing 4 hectares, all in the commune of Puligny. Frost and mildew reduced volumes. ‘What was harvested was beautiful though – directly pressed without triage.’ There will be another 4-5 months on stainless-steel tank before the bottling.
A more modest volume of aroma, faintly mineral. Wider, opening slowly, ingraining flavour into the palate, growing in weight of flavour. This is great in 17, subtly persistent too. Truly great for the label.

2017 Puligny-Montrachet
4.6 ha from around the village. All have completed their first year of elevage separated – they are only assembled for the second part of elevage.
A little extra width of aroma and yellow fruit. Extra weight, extra richness but with drive too. An extra touch of finishing salinity here too. Really excellent…

2017 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Clavoillon
It seems vintage dependent as to whether this is show before or after the Meursault – this year before. This vineyard was planted to red in the early 1900s. Today Leflaive have a virtual monopoly of this large climat, as such it serves as their ‘laboratory’ a place where they try different treatment regimes, different pruning et-cetera.​ It’s the biggest parcel of the domaine at 4.8 ha. The Chavy family have about 1 ha and together that’s most of the vineyard…
A rounder nose, more floral perfume here. Hmm, zip, line, melting flavour, a burst of interest, of delicious flavour, long, fine. Really fine – as good as I’ve ever tasted here!

2017 Meursault 1er Sous le dos d’âne
From vines planted in 2004 and 1995 – all the 1ers have 20% new oak, though here the barrels are large-format – mainly 400 litres
A touch of reduction on the nose. Also on the palate but the signature clarity and absolute deliciousness that I’ve seen in many vintages – though less in the 2016 – is here to the fore – it needs more time though.

2017 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Folatières
Also a change – this shown before the Combettes this year. ​From two parcels, just above Clos de la Garenne, usually the first harvested as this is a hotter location.
Also a touch of reduction to this pretty and open nose. An extra silk and an extra concentration to match – a modest vibration of flavour but melting from the core over the palate. Faintly saline.

2017 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Combettes
​At the limit of Puligny next to Meursault Charmes though these vines are not on the edge of the vineyard.
Fine but relatively tight aroma today – more an impression of width. Ooh, vs the Folatières this is super-mineral, beautifully textured, long, with great direction to the flavour – it’s really an individual – fantastic! A wine that resonates!
2017 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Pucelles
More open aroma – still not to potential – much more complex and here with a little florality. Some touch of gas in the mouth, more volume comes from that but from the wine too, more touched by the oak today but there’s clarity, scale, and a beacon of bright finishing flavour that is grand cru standard in almost all dimensions. So impressively long. Grand vin!​

2017 Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet
A fine nose for sure but still very discreet today. A touch of reduction in the depth, lots of volume, like the nose more discrete and more comfortable today – a little harder to see the individual traits like in the Pucelles today. It lacks the clarity of many today, but you should wait – the length is really an eye-catcher…

2017 Bâtard-Montrachet
Ooh – here is something – complex, beautiful, accented with reduction. Nore decisively mineral, mobile, growing in energy, with clarity of finishing flavour, holding and holding in the finish – great.
2017 Chevalier-Montrachet
Extra width, a reductive agrume quality to the aroma, but each time I smell the wine it’s different. Incisive, clean, mouth-watering, slowly growing, a suggestion of finishing tannin. Particularly good this year. If you can spare the cash…

I asked Brice if he could quantify the difference in the volume of his Montrachet harvest between 2016 and 2017 – his response was surely rehearsed, but nonetheless put a smile on my face: “In Montrachet we went from almost nothing to nearly something!

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