This was an interesting tasting with Pierre Vincent, who has been the general manager at the domaine since the 2017 vintage. It was a little difficult to get into the nitty-gritty of the vintage because we were tasting alongside a charming if voluble group of Texan consumers! Pierre has moved the tastings, and in fact all the wine in vat, to other cellars across the village from the main domaine. Here the late Anne-Claude Leflaive had built an egg-shaped cellar using straw and clay bricks in a bid for good insulation and ecological credentials. The harvest took place between 29th August and 3rd September and was about 30% below the norm. There was a little rain but nothing to worry about.
Domaine Leflaive can trace its history back ten generations to 1717 at their substantial headquarters on Puligny-Montrachet’s Place du Monument. Its modern history started in 1920 when Joseph Leflaive, an engineer who helped design France's first submarine, started to replant the family vines, his sons Vincent and Jo later establishing an international reputation for the estate. Anne-Claude, daughter of the much admired Vincent, ran the estate from 1993 until her untimely death in 2015, zealously adopting organic then biodynamic methods, reaching full accreditation in 1997. Such methods include spreading tiny amounts of powdered silica on the vines to aid photosynthesis and even spraying them with arnica and valerian after big hail storms to kick start the vines back into action! Ploughing and no artificial fertilisers make their vines particularly deep-rooted, helping to shape their powerful and complex wines. Such attention requires a team of 24 working in the vineyards and up to 80 pickers at harvest time. One result of this biodynamic regime, they think, is higher acidity levels with freshness being retained in flabbier vintages. The estate extends to 24 ha, mostly in Puligny-Montrachet with almost 11 ha of premier cru including large holdings of Clavoillon and Pucelles, as well as almost 5 ha of grand cru. A further 25 ha is owned in the Mâconnais. All the wines are vinified in oak barrels with the lees being stirred up (bâtonnage) before the malolactic fermentation. After about ten months, they are transferred back to very small stainless steel tanks for a further eight months to undergo a natural clarification, finally being bottled 18 months after vintage. These two winters in the cellar give the wines all the attributes necessary to stand on both feet, according to the domaine. The estate is now directed by Brice de la Morandière with Pierre Vincent joining him as general manager in 2017 from Domaine de la Vougeraie.