Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rain on the Burgundy '08 vintage

Given the amount of rain and the widespread rot that engulfed Burgundy in August and the first 14 days of September (the day the cold, dry north wind arrived to start to dry it out), the ‘08 vintage must have been a huge challenge for the biodynamic vineyards of Domaine Leflaive.

Yet tasting the ‘08s – only one bottled by May 30, 2010 – there were little or no signs of botrytis and none whatsoever of any mould or other taint. The sorting table did get rid of 20% of the crop, leaving grapes with low pH, high acidity and 13% to 14% potential alcohol. The wines have evolved in barrel and (thereafter) small closed tanks at a snail’s pace, the malolactic fermentation still to finish for some; some will not be bottled until after the 2010 vintage. It is clear they will be very slow-developing wines, a radical contrast to the ‘06s, for example. Our tasting ran through Puligny Montrachet (commune), Puligny Montrachet Les Clavoillon, Les Folatieres, Les Pucelles, Bienvenues-B√Ętard-Montrachet and Chevalier Montrachet, an exhilarating ride up the quality ladder of Burgundy – particularly given the quality of the starting point. Domaine Leflaive (not to be confused with Olivier Leflaive) is one of the greatest producers of white burgundy; its wines are expensive and scarce, but each and every ‘08 will be worth fighting for when they arrive in Australia towards the end of this year – possibly in two shipments.

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