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Comtes Lafon: The Importance
Robert Parker is quick to commend Domaine des Comtes Lafon's Dominique Lafon, who “has kept ratcheting up quality,” at the family domaine, “arriving in recent vintages at an exemplary balance of richness with clarity and refinement.” Clive Coates supports this view, naming Comtes Lafon as “one of the few indisputably three-star white wine estates in Burgundy.”
Jancis Robinson is similarly enchanted by what she describes as “one of the Meursault’s grandest houses,” and “one of the village's most blessed, and more aristocratic domaines, built up astutely a century and more ago. It boasts well over three hectares of premier cru vineyard as well a precious slice of white burgundy's crème de le crème grand cru: Le Montrachet. Lafon Montrachet sells for many hundreds of pounds a bottle.” John Gilman adds that from a practical point of view, the palatial structure of the Lafon domaine provides “some of the deepest and coldest cellars in Burgundy,” and caters to a long, unhurried élevage of the formidable white wines produced here.
Comtes Lafon: The Insight
Domaine des Comtes Lafon produce enchantingly seductive Pinot Noir alongside intense, rich and perfectly balanced Chardonnay.
Although the language is crude, the message is clear when Neal Martin says: “the Montrachet is the ‘dog’s bollocks’ as we used to say,” adding that “whilst one feels coerced to examine its minutiae, the hedonistic side of your personality will wonder what the hell you are doing and just gulp it down. Try to do both, is my advice.” John Gilman explains that “the Lafons’ parcel of Montrachet lies in the Chassagne section of the vineyard, alongside the vines of Domaine de la Romanée Conti’s impossibly rare Montrachet,” while in Robert Parker’s view, “The four Meursault premier crus, and of course the Montrachet are consistently memorable, but ostensibly lesser whites, including the monopole. Meursault Clos de la Barre, can all be recommended and are all in great demand. Red wines like the Volnay Santenots du Milieu and smaller lots of Volnay Clos des Chênes and Volnay Champans combine polish and richness with precision and finesse. The Monthélie from Duresses premier cru should also not be missed.”
Even the Domaine des Comtes Lafon's Bourgogne Blanc is regularly described as “gorgeous” by Antonio Galloni, while of course the Meursault, and all the host of associated vineyards are the mainstay of the domaine’s success, particularly the Meursault Genevrières, Meursault Perrières, Meursault Charmes, Meursault Goutte D’Or, Meursautl Clos de la Barre, Meursault Poruzot, Meursault Poruzot and Meursault Desirées. All of these wines provide an ideal insight into what is perhaps the most uniformly outstanding village in the Côte de Beaune, with Lafon’s signature style of ripe, hedonistic fleshy openness perfectly illustrating the more voluptuous and indulgent style of great white Burgundy.
Comtes Lafon: The Background
Antonio Galloni applauds Dominique Lafon as “one of the most thoughtful growers in Burgundy, who has basically re-examined every aspect of the way he makes wine in response to the problem of premature oxidation.” Visiting the biodynamic domaine in August 2011, he observes that the wines “spend more time on their lees, but that is just one of the many changes that have taken place,” with many innovations driven by Dominique Lafon’s remarkably open-minded and inquisitive approach to neighbouring vignerons. Neil Martin observes that Lafon was “inspired by the late Gérard Potel’s modus operandi of transferring wines into stainless steel for their final six months rather than keeping it in barrel for the full ‘upbringing,’ (i.e. élevage)” and notes that Dominique poured a sample of his 2013 Montrachet “quipping that it sported a ‘Coche-like’ reduction,” thus acknowledging the influential style of Domaine Coche-Dury, who could be seen as an arch-rival. Comparisons between Lafon and the legendary Jean-François Coche are not uncommon since both are based in Meursault and share several excellent vineyards, most notably Meursault-Les-Perrières and Meursault Genevrières. Jancis Robinson hails them jointly as this white burgundy village's “two most famous Domaines.” With just under 17 hectares however, Domaine Lafon’s vineyard holdings are more extensive than those of Coche, having been deliberately refined, selected, and augmented since 1894, culminating in 2011 with the purchase of two outstanding Meursault Premier Crus from the liquidated Domaine René Manuel: Meursault Les Bouchères and Meursault Poruzot (a.ka. Les Poruzots). These vineyards were purchased in a joint venture with the highly esteemed Domaine Roulot, which now farms the other half of these small plots.
Another recent expansion has been the establishment of Les Héritiers des Comtes Lafon in 1999, which has been hailed by John Gilman as “one of, if not the most important, estates in the Mâconnais, and along with other high quality-oriented producers such as Olivier Merlin, André Bonhomme, Jean-Marie Guffens and Jean Thevenet.”
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