The List




The List


Le Montrachet Grand Cru Domaine Des Comtes Lafon

If the study of wine were a core subject taught to secondary school children, the examination of the region of Burgundy, and its arcane appellation system, would no doubt illicit the loudest chorus of groans from average pupils and cries of delight from the more studious class members.

This is largely mirrored in the real world, where Burgundy’s combination of small vineyards split between many owners, and an appellation system that appears to be designed in as perverse and confusing way as possible, results in the region appealing often to a certain type of wine lover, with, shall we say, slightly more geeky tendencies than most.

But the technicalities and intricacies of the region’s classification system should not let the less trainspottery oenophile be put off; if only for the simple reason that Burgundy, at its best, is capable of producing truly world beating red and white wines. And none more so than the highly regarded Grand Cru of Montrachet in the Cote De Beaune.

Le Montrachet wines are from the Chassagne side of the Montrachet vineyard (although do not confuse these with the nearby Grand Cru of Chassagne-Montrachet) and, like all of Burgundy’s finest whites, they are composed entirely of the chardonnay grape. So far, so simple, then, but this is where it gets complicated: Montrachet has a large number of owners and an even larger number of producers (18 and 27, respectively, at the time of writing), so two bottles, both labelled ‘Montrachet Grand Cru’ but from different producers could, in theory at least, taste very different.

The vines from our chosen producer, Comtes Lafon, are situated on a very gently sloping and small (0.32 hectares) parcel of land at the far south of the Montrachet vineyard. The soil is richer than the Puligny side of the vineyard, but is comprised of a similar mix of chalk, clay and limestone. Vines are old and produce a fairly low yield and the harvesting is by hand. The resultant wine is aged in new oak barrels for just under two years.

Our recommended wine is from the 2000 vintage, and exemplifies everything that a great Grand Cru Burgundy can be. The delicate essence of flowers and honey pervades the nose, whilst on the palate there is well integrated wood coming through as soft vanilla tones, and a buttery fatness cut across with the added edge of citrus fruits.

Balance and sophistication are the key words here, and it is easy to see why many regard Montrachet and its fellow Burgundy peers as being the ultimate expression of white wine making. There is none of the bluster and overblown confidence of many high end New World chardonnays; just a lingering sense, after drinking, that one has tasted the zenith of the winemaker’s art.