Vinopolpick Thursday – Domaine des Comtes Lafon

July 17, 2014

Domaine des Comtes Lafon

Dominique Lafon took over the family estate in 1984 from his father, Rene.  The estate was originally founded in the 19th century by Jule Lafon partly from his wife’s inheritance, but mostly through his own vineyard purchases in Cru vineyard sites such as Le Montrachet and Les Charmes.  His wife’s family built the house and cellar in which the estate still operates its winery.  Dominique’s father rescued the estate from being sold off and took over management in 1956.  By 1961, he had replanted much of the vineyards that had been mismanaged and began bottling much of the estate’s production.  When Dominique took over from his father, he terminated the remaining sharecropping agreements to take complete control over the management of the vineyards.  He created the Domaine des Comtes Lafon Company to manage the estate.  All of the shareholders are family members.
Domaine des Comtes Lafon controls around 16 hectares of vineyards, including much land in famous crus around Meursault.  Meticulous care is taken at the Domaine to craft exceptional wines.  The estate has been organic since 1995 and biodynamic since 1998.  Their vines average 32 years old across the estate, and premier cru vineyards on average are even older.  The densely planted vines are replanted using mass selection, where the best vines from the vineyard are cloned and the least successful are replanted.  Debudding takes place to maintain low yields.  The Estate performs multiple harvests.  The first is to remove poor quality and underripe berries.

The berries undergo gentle pressing and temperature-controlled fermentation with natural yeast.  Both the red and white wines undergo barrel-fermentation.  Red grapes are fermented whole berry with stems removed.  Most of the Cru wines see about one-third new oak.  Lees are stirred according to the individual needs of each barrel.  The resulting wines show balance, depth, richness and complexity.

In 1999, Dominique purchased another domain, in the Macon and has since expanded the vineyard holdings.  He created the Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon label for these wines.  These wines are held to the same stringent standards as the original domain: the vineyards are biodynamic and produce small yields through strict green harvesting.  His goal in the Macon is to prove the region can produce complex, high quality wines at the level of Meursault.  Beginning with the 2010 vintage, Dominique began selling wines under the Domaine Dominique Lafon label.  He has complete ownership over the wines.  All of the grapes come from vineyards either owned or farmed by Dominique, despite being labeled negociant wines.

Domaines des Comtes Lafon Wines Arriving July 22nd
Domaine des Comtes Lafon Montrachet Grand Cru 2011 ($1,499.95) **$1,299 special
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2011 Montrachet Grand Cru was one of the last to be picked. There are just five barrels, minus the bottle that Dominique sequestered for his fish supper. It is understated at first, but blossoms with aeration offering apricot, hints of passion fruit, cold limestone and eventually Turkish Delight. The palate is extremely well-balanced, pure and focused with orange peel, marmalade, quince and a suggestion of white chocolate. It is extremely intense with an enormously long tail on the finish. This is utterly entrancing: a Montrachet that justifies the reputation of the name. Drink now-2030.”

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre 2011 ($149.95) **$125 special
Wine Advocate 92 points
 “The 2011 Meursault Clos de la Barre was raised in used oak and bottled a little later than Dominique’s other 2011s. It has a generous bouquet that is spicier than the Village Cru with hints of smoked walnut emerging with time. The palate takes the tempo down a notch: mellow, refined and harmonious with beautifully integrated oak and a sumptuous lightly honeyed finish. Lovely. Drink now-2022+.”

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Genevrieres, Meursault Premier Cru 2011 ($299.95) **$239 special
Burghound 92 points
 “A naturally exotic and wonderfully elegant nose displays notes of acacia blossom, spice nuances, grilled nuts and essence of pear. There is a captivating texture to the caressing medium weight flavors again thanks to the dry extract that also buffers the firm acid spine on the driving, saline and moderately dry finish where a mineral note adds a touch of backend lift.” BH
Stephen Tanzer 92(+?) points “Reticent aromas of tangerine, orange and flinty minerality; clearly affected by the bottling a month ago, as is usual for this elegant wine. Silky, suave and vibrant, with classically dry flavors of orange blossom and sexy vanillin oak. This very young, animated wine finishes with lovely length and verve.”

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Les Gouttes d’Or, Meursault Premier Cru 2011 ($269.95) $219 special
Wine Advocate 94 points 
“The 2011 Meursault 1er Cru Goutte d’Or has similar clay to Porusots that lends them similar weight. It has a complex nose of lime flower, quince and hazelnut that gains intensity in the glass. The palate is actually quite similar to the Porusots on the entry, but for me, the finish shows superior tension and poise. This is one of Dominique’s finest. Drink 2014-2028.”

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Charmes, Meursault Premier Cru 2011 ($249.95) **$199 special
Burghound 92-94 points 
” *Outstanding* A blend of fruit coming from 35+ and 75+ year old vines all in Charmes Dessus, which is the best part directly below Perrières and abutting Combettes. Here the pattern is reversed as the nose is less ripe; indeed here it is cool, restrained and positively backwards with its pure aromas of hazelnut, citrus, acacia blossom and extract of pear and white peach. There is terrific underlying tension and plenty of minerality to the medium-bodied flavors that possess almost painful intensity on the explosively persistent finish. This is first-rate though patience will be required. Drink 2021+” BH
Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2011 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes is adorned with an elegant, vibrant bouquet with lime flower, citrus peel and quince that gains intensity in the glass. The palate is well-balanced with light honeyed notes furnishing the entry before it crescendos toward the finish that offers quince, grapefruit and passion fruit all struck with fine acidity and a cheeky hint of white chocolate just appearing on the aftertaste. There is a lot to take in here — a mercurial, thought-provoking Meursault. Drink 2015-2027.”

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Perrieres, Meursault Premier Cru 2011 ($318.95) **$289 special
Wine Advocate 94 points 
“The 2011 Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres, which was bottled later than Genevrieres around the end of April, has a beautifully defined bouquet of quince, a hint of peppermint and Clementine that opens wonderfully in the glass. The palate is extremely well-balanced from the start. There is intensity and animation in this Perrieres, shimmering with citrus lemon and apricot on the entry, a spicy undertow of white pepper and even marmalade running alongside. Very deep on the finish, this is a fabulous wine. Drink 2014-2028.”

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Volnay 2011 ($99.95) **$79 special
“(13.5% alcohol without chaptalization): Good dark red. Black cherry and chocolatey high tones on the nose; the only one of these 2011s to hint at a roasted quality. Broad and silky in the mouth but drier and less energetic than the Monthelie. Finishes with dusty tannins….” —Stephen Tanzer

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu, Volnay Premier Cru 2011 ($159.95) **$129 special
Stephen Tanzer 92 (+?) points
 “Good bright medium red. The most complex and complete of these 2011s on the nose, offering scents of black cherry, menthol, wild herbs and sexy underbrush; sappy and ripe but with noteworthy medicinal reserve. Silky on entry, then thick, bright and highly concentrated, with the violet and licorice lift and firm spine of acidity of a top Cote de Nuits wine. Lovely focus and dark fruit intensity here. Finishes bright and long, with serious but fine-grained tannins. This should age beautifully.”

** These prices are the best in the USA today after tax, because we have none!

Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Arriving July 22nd
Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Chardonnay Clos de la Crochette 2012 ($39.95) $33 special

Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Milly-Lamartine 2011 ($29.95) **$24 special

Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Vire-Clesse 2012 ($44.95) $36 special

** This price is the best in the USA today!

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Wines Available Now

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Charmes, Meursault Premier Cru 2009 ($259.95) $219 special, 2 bottles available
Burghound 92-94 points “Aromatically, this is almost a hypothetical blend of the Genevrières and the Goutte d’Or but here there is even more intensity to the mineral-inflected medium-bodied flavors that evidence really lovely purity of expression on the explosive and driving finish. This is clearly a Charmes from the upper part of the vineyard as there is none of the borderline excessive generosity of the lower portion.”

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Les Gouttes d’Or, Meursault Premier Cru 2010 ($299.95) $249 special, 1 bottle available
Stephen Tanzer 92+ points
 “Pale bright yellow. Superripe aromas of pineapple, peach and apricot verge on exotic. Sweet mid-palate fruit is nicely balanced by juicy acidity, which gives lift and a light touch to the peach and pear flavors. Finishes long and perfumed, with noteworthy breed for this bottling. Lovely wine with good aging potential.”

Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Wine Available Now

Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Chardonnay Clos de la Crochette 2011 ($39.95) **$31.90 special, 9 bottles available

** This price is the best in the USA today!

Dominique Lafon Wines Available Now
Dominique Lafon Bourgogne Blanc 2010 ($34.95) **$24 special, 28 bottles available
“The 2010 Bourgogne Blanc is gorgeous. It reveals lovely depth and roundness, with expressive fruit, nuanced aromatics and tremendous overall balance. This is an unusually refined wine within its peer group. The 2010 was made from grapes sourced in St. Veran. Beginning in 2011, the Bourgogne will include fruit from Meursault that Lafon gained access to through the purchase of Domaine Manuel. Anticipated maturity: 2012+. These are the first wines I have tasted from Dominique Lafon’s new label, which he directs entirely on his own. Dominique Lafon is making his wines in a slightly different style than he has become known for at Comtes Lafon, his family’s iconic estate in Meursault. The Dominique Lafon wines are a little bit more laid back and restrained.”–Antonio Galloni

Dominique Lafon Les Epenottes, Beaune Premier Cru 2010 ($99.95) $79 special, 18 bottles available
Wine Advocate 91 points
 “The 2010 Beaune Epenottes fleshes out beautifully in the glass with dark red berries, spices and licorice. This is an incredibly expressive, layered wine built on a serious core of fruit buffered by the vibrant minerality of the year. Anticipated maturity: 2012+.”

** This price is the best in the USA today!