2013 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet
Grand Cru White barrel
Tasted: Jun 15, 2015
Note: from 3 different parcels, two on the Chassagne side and the third in the Puligny sector that is near the border dividing the two communes
Producer note: The wine world was recently shocked and saddened by the news that long-time director Anne-Claude Leflaive had passed away after losing a battle with cancer. Mme. Leflaive was widely known as one of the earliest and most fervent proponents in Burgundy of the merits of biodynamic farming. She, along with long-time régisseur Pierre Morey (now retired), were responsible for producing some of the most iconic white burgundies in the past 20 years. While few today even notice when a domaine announces that it will pursue biodynamic viticulture, it's important to remember that Mme. Leflaive's decision to pursue this approach some 20 years ago was viewed with considerable disapprobation, not only in Burgundy but within the domaine itself. At that time Domaine Leflaive had few legitimate competitors for the title of the greatest white burgundy producer and as such, many were of the opinion that if the current approach is working why mess with success? It would have been much easier, and a great deal less controversial, for Mme. Leflaive to rest on her and the domaine's laurels. Indeed I asked her in 1996 why she chose to pursue a path that was anything but evident that it would produce better results, particularly when the quality of the domaine's wines produced in the 1980s were nothing short of stunning. Her response was at once simple and revealing: "We can do better and we will do better. This is the right choice for us. Burgundy's genius is in the dirt and in its collective knowledge. Burgundy benefits enormously today from its 2000 years of constantly striving to farm its vines in a way that continually produces better results. How can we remain where we are with a clear conscious without at least asking the question if it's possible to do better still? Is the quality of what we are producing today really the best possible? Have we really realized 100% of what is possible? I don't believe that because the day that I do I will resign my position and do something else. I believe that Burgundy can do better and I believe that Domaine Leflaive can do better. If biodynamic farming doesn't produce better results in time I will admit that I was wrong but no one can reproach me for my efforts to do better, to get the best from my vines." She then opened two experimental bottles of 1994 Clavoillon, the first that was produced from vines farmed organically and the second from vines farmed biodynamically. She served them blind and we poked and prodded those wines for an hour, systematically dissecting every aspect. It was one of the best tastings that I have ever done with a producer because she was both relentless and merciless in her examination of the results. Her approach was immensely admirable because it was clear which one she wanted to "win" but she had the intellectual integrity and rigor to not fool herself about the results. The Leflaive family, Burgundy and the wine lovers the world over have collectively lost one of its giants.
Tasting note: Here the nose is restrained to the point of being all but mute and only aggressive swirling coaxes the grudging aromas of pear, white peach, apricot, acacia blossom and discreet menthol nuances. As is usually the case there is more size, weight and muscle to the medium weight plus flavors that possess a hint of bitter lemon on the massively long finish. What I find interesting about the 2013 Bâtard is not only that it is more elegant then usual but also that it manages to deliver so much volume and power without any appreciable weight. In a word, brilliant.