With the Burgundy En-primeur 2015 campaign lurking just around the corner in the UK wine trade, it seemed an opportune moment to be reminded why Burgundy is such a special region and why it’s wines can be mesmerisingly good.
Last night I attended a private vertical tasting of Domaine Lafarge wines at the trendiest wine bar in London, Noble Rot, as a guest of owners Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew. On display was a tantalising list of some of the finest Cotes de Beaune reds ever produced. Indeed, along with Marquis d’Angerville, Domaine Lafarge probably produces the finest Volnay reds known to man.
With numerous poor, low yielding vintages over the past 5 years, the wines of Volnay have become somewhat of a rarity on wine merchants shelves. So getting to taste multiple vintages of the most famous vineyards back to the 80’s was a real privilege.
After a duo of palate cleansers in the way of Champagne Emmanuel Brochet Brut Le Mont Benoit 1er Cru NV (92/100) and Domaine Roulot Monthelie 1er Cru Champs Fulliot 2011 (91/100) matched with native oysters, we were ready for our Lafarge journey to commence.
Lafarge have around 10 hectares of vines on some of the very best sites in Volnay, managed on biodynamic principles. Many of their vines are mature but not excessively old and yields are generally low. Very little new oak is used and the wines are handled as little as possible, with only a couple of rackings, a light fining and normally no filtration pre-bottling.
I have recently written a lot about the rising popularity of both Aligote and Gamay, so the Lafarge old vine Aligote Raisins Dores 2009 (88+/100) was a good starting point. Not particularly known for their whites, Lafarge’s Meursault and 1er Cru Beaune Les Aigrots can be quite accomplished wines. The Aigrots 2011 was fresh and mineral laced with plenty of stoney yellow fruit (89/100).
The highlight of the night was undoubtedly the older Clos des Chenes pairing of 1985 (97+/100) and 1993 (96/100). Both wines showed incredible precision, perfume, finesse and seamlessly sweet, pure red forest fruits. Such profound harmony and balance. Pinnacles of achievement in Volnay.