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Purity and Finesse at Domaine Leflaive

The first vintage of Chardonnays under Brice de la Morandière shows exciting potential
Photo by: Bruce Sanderson
Pierre Vincent joined Domaine Leflaive early this year as director general, responsible for the day-to-day activities.

Posted: Feb 28, 2017 11:50am ET

Brice de la Morandière took over as managing director of Burgundy's Domaine Leflaive in May 2015, after the death of his aunt, Anne-Claude Leflaive. His debut vintage at the estate looks excellent, based on the purity and finesse of the young Chardonnays.

"The quality of the grapes was simply fantastic," he said, referring to the 2015 harvest. "There was no disease, just ripe and healthy fruit in both regions." He was referring to the estate's holdings in Puligny-Montrachet and Mâcon, the latter now comprising 49 acres.

Domaine Leflaive began picking Aug. 28 in Puligny; one week later in Mâcon. Only the Mâcon wines were bottled for my visit; the others were in tank for bottling beginning in March (Bourgogne) and April to June for the premiers and grands crus. "In 2003, the heat arrived quickly," recalled de la Morandière. "In '15 it was warm from the beginning, so the vines adapted."

All the wines reached a natural level of 13.0 to 13.5 degrees alcohol with low pHs. I tasted with de la Morandière and Pierre Vincent, the new director general who will be responsible for the day-to-day activities of the domaine. He joined Domaine Leflaive in early January, having formerly made the wines at Domaine de la Vougeraie.

De la Morandière feels the wines of Mâcon are underappreciated, noting, "If you do things in a proper way, working carefully, you can make something interesting." The Mâcon-Solutré, St.-Véran and Pouilly-Fuissé all show outstanding quality. They were barrel fermented, aging 12 months in oak and an additional four to six months in tank before bottling.

The Bourgogne Blanc has roundness to it, with apple and lime flavors, good cut and fine length. White flowers, lime and hazelnut notes were reflected in the Puligny villages, backed by a sleek, vibrant profile. The Meursault Sous le Dos d'Ane offers a creamy texture to showcase its honey, hazelnut and citrus flavors.

Falling between the sleek Puligny and creamy Meursault in richness, the Puligny-Montrachet Clavoillon boasts apple, lemon and spice flavors. I was very impressed with the Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières, whose alluring nose displays floral and citrus aromas, its mineral essence allied to an elegant and refined structure.

Starting out opulent, the Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes reveals power on the attack, giving way to a firm structure and mineral elements as it unfolds. By contrast, the Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles is intense from the get-go, expressing lemon oil, peach, floral and mineral notes with beautiful harmony and length.

At the grands crus level, the Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet has an immediate impact, its hazelnut, peach and toasty brioche married to a creamy texture. consistent from beginning to long finish. Broad and powerful, the Bâtard-Montrachet is less accessible now, yet not heavy or dense, with a long, mineral aftertaste. We finished with the classy, linear Chevalier-Montrachet, a tense white with floral, citrus and stony elements, great finesse and what seems like an endless finish.

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