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May 29, 2014

Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon 2011

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Domaine Leflaive takes centre stage in the pantheon of truly great white Burgundy producers and we are pleased to be able to offer the recent ‘late release’ of their 2011 1er Cru plot “Clavoillon”. Leflaive has elected to release a small parcel to market, something they normally do with older vintages, to help supplement a shortage of stock caused primarily by the miniscule production in 2012. Allocations of Domaine Leflaive are hard to come by and securing them on release is very advantageous.

Domaine Leflaive is the most prestigious winery in Puligny-Montrachet, boasting a supreme portfolio of vineyard holdings, including five hectares of 1er Cru and 13 acres of Grand Cru. The Domaine heralds from 1717, yet the family line traces back to Joseph Leflaive (1870-1953), an engineer who worked on the first French submarine. In 1905 Leflaive was able to buy 25 hectares at a very low price, due to the widespread vineyard decimation caused by the phylloxera epidemic. In 1920, Leflaive began a replanting programme with better adapted root stock. After Joseph’s death in 1953, his son’s Vincent and Jo cemented the Domaine’s reputation as one of the leading estates in all of Burgundy. In 1973 the brothers restructured the Domaine as a company to avoid splitting it up in adherence to French inheritance laws: the Napoleonic law of succession is largely responsible for the large fragmentation of vineyard plots throughout the region.

In 1990, Vincent’s daughter Anne-Claude Leflaive and her Cousin Olivier Leflaive began running the Estate. Olivier assumed responsibility for running the negociant business and as such in 1994, Anne-Claude took over the running of the Domaine in her own. In 2009 the Domaine lost Olivier’s holdings, which are now separately known as Olivier Leflaive, Domaine Leflaive however, remains more sought after and greater prized.

In 1997 after seven years of experimenting with one third of the Domaine biodynamic and two thirds organic, she decided to transform the Domaine to completely biodynamic methods. This mirrored the footsteps of Lalou Bize-Leroy and Nicolas Joly, who believe herbicides and fertilisers cause long-term damage to the soil. The wines are aged for 12 months in 25% new French oak and then moved to steel tanks allowing the wine to clarify over a second winter of ageing and integration.

Leflaive boast spectacular 1er Cru parcels in Les Pucelles, Folatieres, Les Combettes and Le Clavoillon. Le Clavoillon borders Les Pucelles in the central limestone and marl escarpments of the village, Puligny-Montrachet, which runs through the middle of Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet and as such shares much of their characteristics. Leflaive is the largest holder of Clavoillon with a whopping 4.8 ha parcel where the vines average 40+ years’ of age. Le Clavoillon perennially displays a wonderful richness of fruit, with outstanding harmony, elegance, balancing the incredibly complex and intense flavours and marrying these with oak and lively acidity. This is a superb plot, from one of the greatest white Burgundy producers, however, unlike their Montrachet which costs £3,000 a bottle and their Batard-Montrachet which costs £200 and upwards, the Clavoillon offers excellent value for under £60 a bottle. Leflaive’s similar scoring Clavoillon 2009, 2010 and 2012 already costs £400 per six bottle case and with very little made in 2011 £350 looks very compelling.

Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon 2011 6×75 – £350 IB or £434.76 including duty and VAT 

Burghound, 89-92 points
A markedly floral and distinctly riper nose displays notes of white peach, apricot and pain grillé are trimmed in pretty citrus notes. There is good concentration to the sappy and mouth coating medium-bodied flavors where there is a real sense of volume and dry extract. The 2011 version is a relatively powerful wine and is really quite good though it doesn’t have the precision or mineral character of the best here. Drink: 2018+, Tasted: Jun 11, 2013

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