Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Meursault

Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Meursault, 2015

  • icon-type Type

    White

  • icon-year Year

    2015

  • icon-style Style

    Dry

  • icon-country Country

    France

  • icon-alcohollevel Alcohol level

    13.5%

  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Chardonnay 100%

The generic Comtes Lafon Meursault village delivers green apples and pears together with a well balanced minerality. A very refreshing vintage that drinks well now and has the potential for quite some more years to come.

About Domaine des Comtes Lafon

Domaine des Comtes Lafon has the deepest and coldest cellars in Burgundy and they nurture some of the greatest dry white wines of Burgundy. Dominique Lafon is the leading producer in Meursault, producing wines of astonishing depth and complexity, yet supremely balanced as well.

The domaine dates back to the building of the house and cellar at Clos de la Barre by the Boch family in 1869. However the real creator of the estate was Comte Jules Lafon who married Mademoiselle Marie Boch on St Vincent’s day 1894, and was shrewd enough to purchase exceptionally well sited plots in the best vineyards of Meursault and Volnay, as well as a treasured piece of Le Montrachet acquired in 1919.

Dominique Lafon has been in charge since 1985, taking over a domaine which already had a reputation for outstanding, if irregular whites, and potentially good reds. When Lafon took over the domaine, most of his vineyards were leased out on a share-cropping basis. It was only towards the end of the 80s that he managed to reclaim all the vineyards and thus have full responsibility for them. The white wines are now consistently among the best in Burgundy while since 1989 the reds have reached the top division. Not only are the Lafons' holdings in the best vineyards of Meursault and Volnay, but they are mostly very well situated within the vineyards. The domaine is now cultivated according to biodynamic principles with no use of herbicides or chemical sprays. All the wines are barrel-fermented, using new oak for the 1er Crus upwards. There is only one racking after the malolactic and the wines are bottled nearly two years after the vintage, one of the latest bottlings in Burgundy. This is the very pinnacle of White Burgundy with superlative fruit, power, complexity and total harmony being the wines' hallmarks. The reds (incl. those from Volnay, Monthélie) are first class as well.

In September 1999 the Lafons bought a domaine in the Maconnais at Milly Lamartine, sold under the label of Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon. Further vineyards have been bought subsequently, and from 2009 there is a contract in place to farm the vineyards of the Chateau de Viré. Dominique has also established a small label of his own, the wines being made in Beaune.

The white wines are whole bunch pressed then settled in tank at 12°C for 24 hours. No new oak is used for the village wines, up to 70% for Charmes and Perrières, less for Genevrières, and 100% for Le Montrachet, though these are subsequently racked into older wood. The wines spend a second winter in wood.

The red grapes are 100% destemmed and put in stainless steel tank with a cooling and heating system. Temperature reduced to 14° for a three to five day pre-fermentation maceration. The vats are typically punched down twice a day during fermentation. Post-fermentation maceration depends on the tannins, while sometimes the juice is pressed and run off into barrel to finish fermenting there. 30% new oak is used. Maturation takes place over 18 months with two rackings before bottling without fining or filtration if possible.

Grape variety
Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white wine. The variety originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France, but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a ‘rite of passage’ and an easy entry into the international wine market.

The Chardonnay grape itself is neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the wine being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France, to New World wines with oak and tropical fruit flavours. In cool climates (such as Chablis and the Carneros AVA of California), Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavours of green plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Gisborne and Marlborough region of New Zealand), the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations (such as the Central Coast AVA of California), more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavours with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes.

Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne and Franciacorta in Italy.

Chardonnay's popularity peaked in the late 1980s, then gave way to a backlash among those wine connoisseurs who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalisation of wine. Nonetheless, it is one of the most widely planted grape varieties, with 210,000 hectares (520,000 acres) worldwide, second only to Airén among white wine grapes and fifth among all wine grapes.

Chardonnay lends itself to almost any style of wine making from dry still wines, to sparkling wines to sweet late harvest and even botrytized wines (though its susceptibility to other less favourable rot makes these wines rarer). The two winemaking decisions that most widely affect the end result of a Chardonnay wine is whether or not to use malolactic fermentation and the degree of oak influence used for the wine. With malolactic fermentation (or MLF), the harder malic acid gets converted into the softer lactic acid, and diacetyl which creates the "buttery-ness" that is associated with some styles of Chardonnay. The wines that do not go through MLF will have more green (unripe) apple like flavours. Oak can be introduced during fermentation or after in the form of the barrel aging. Depending on the amount of charring that the oak was treated with, this can introduce a "toastiness" and flavours that many wine drinkers mistake as a characteristic of the grape itself. These flavours can include caramel, cream, smoke, spice, coconut, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.

Other winemaking decisions that can have a significant effect include the temperature of fermentation and what time, if any, that the wine allowed to spend aging on the lees. Burgundian winemaking tends to favour extended contact on the lees and even "stirring up" the lees within the wine while it is aging in the barrel in a process known as bâttonage. Colder fermentation temperatures produces more "tropical" fruit flavours like mango and pineapple. The "Old World" style of winemaking favours the use of wild, or ambient yeast, though some will also use specially cultivated yeast that can impart aromatic qualities to the wine. A particular style of yeast used in Champagne is the Prise de Mousse that is cultivated for use worldwide in sparkling Chardonnay wines. A potential drawback of using wild yeast is that the fermentation process can go very slow with the results of the yeasts being very unpredictable and producing potentially a very different wine each year. One Burgundian winemaker that favours the use of only wild yeast is Domaine des Comtes Lafon which had the fermentation of its 1963 Chardonnay batch take 5 years to complete when the fermentation process normally only takes a matter of weeks.

The time of harvesting is a crucial decision because the grape quickly begins to lose acidity as it ripens. For sparkling wine production, the grapes will be harvested early and slightly unripe to maintain the acid levels. Sparkling Chardonnay based wines tend to exhibit more floral and steely flavours in their youth. As the wine ages, particularly if it spends significant time on lees, the wines will develop "toasty" notes. Chardonnay grapes usually have little trouble developing sugar content, even in cooler climates, which translates into high potential alcohol levels and limits the need for chaptalisation. On the flip side, low acid levels can be a concern which make the wine taste "flabby" and dull. Winemakers can counteract this by adding tartaric acid in a process known as "acidification". In cooler climates, the extract and acidity of Chardonnay is magnified which has the potential of producing very concentrated wines that can develop through bottle aging. Chardonnay can blend well with other grapes and still maintain some of its unique character. The grapes most often blended with Chardonnay include Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Sémillon.

Due to the "malleability" of Chardonnay in winemaking and its ability to reflect its terroir, there is not one distinct universal "style" or set of constants that could be applied to Chardonnay made across the globe. According to Jancis Robinson, a sense of "smokiness" is one clue that could be picked up in a blind tasting of Chardonnay but there are many styles that do not have any "smoky" notes. Compared to other white wine grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Viognier-Chardonnay has a more subtle and muted nose with no overwhelming aromatics that jump out of the wine glass. The identifying styles of Chardonnay are regionally based. For example, pineapple notes are more commonly associated with Chardonnay from Napa Valley while Chablis will have more notes of green apples. While many examples of Chardonnay can benefit from a few years of bottle aging, especially if they have high acidity, most Chardonnays are meant to be consumed in their youth. A notable exception to this is the most premium examples of Chablis and white Burgundies.

Alternative Names: Morillon, Pinot Chardonnay, Feiner Weisser Burgunder

About Meursault

Meursault is a large village in the Côte de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy. Its wines are regarded as highly as those of its southern neighbour Puligny-Montrachet. This is despite Meursault not having any grand cru vineyards to speak of.

Meursault's output is almost entirely white wines, made from Chardonnay grapes. The commune's wines are renowned for being among the richer, more full-bodied Burgundy whites. Tasting notes commonly cite notes of butter, almonds and grilled hazelnuts, alongside the finer citrus fruit and mineral elements. The geological differences across the commune's vineyards are famously discernible in their wines.

Less than five percent of its vineyard area is planted to Pinot Noir destined for red wines. In fact, reds from a small cluster of vineyards at the northern end of the commune are produced under the appellation of Meursault's northern neighbour, Volnay. These sites all fall under the Volnay Santenots title for their red wines, but the Meursault Santenots Blancs, Santenots du Milieu and Les Plures titles for their whites.

Rather than any one world-class site, it is Meursault's reliably high-quality premier cru vineyards and commune-level bottlings that are responsible for its good reputation. The most famous of these wines are produced at the southern end of the commune, at the 31 hectare (77 acre) Charmes vineyard, and the Perrières and Genevrières sites.

In addition to its official premier crus, the commune has a number of well-respected lieu-dit vineyards. Their names are commonly cited on wine labels. Lieu-dit sites are those without the premier cru title, but which are nevertheless known as a source of high-quality grapes.

It is possible for these sites to be promoted to premier cru status, and for demotions in the other direction. Classification reviews are becoming more frequent; the last was in late 2001.

The commune stretches just over 5 kilometres (3 miles) from north to south – still small, but relatively large when compared to its smaller neighbour Puligny-Montrachet, which barely measures 2km (1.2 miles). There are 289 hectares (714 acres) of village level Meursault vineyard, and 105ha (259 acres) of premier cru sites. More than 200,000 cases of white wine are produced per year, plus around 4000 cased of red.

Located on the limestone-rich slopes of the Côte d'Or escarpment, Meursault's sites are blessed with classic Burgundy terroir. They occupy an area at the entrance to the Saint-Romain valley, a gap in the Côte d'Or. This leads to a variety of orientations in the local hillsides, from due south through due east. This variation is just one contributing factor in the variation of styles in Meursault wines.

Regular price $2,845.00

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