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
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.