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News

THE RECORD-BREAKING LEGENDARY COLLECTION OF ROBERT CAINE
Zachys once again proved itself as the premier auction house for single owner collections on Friday, February 12, as The Legendary Collection of Robert Caine broke auction records for Coche-Dury and achieved monumental results. This extraordinary session was the second day of Zachys’ La Paulée Auction in conjunction with Daniel Johnnes’ La Paulée de New York, and Burgundy lovers from across the country and around the globe converged on New York City for the single greatest collection of Burgundy ever to come to auction. The Legendary Collection of Robert Caine was 100% sold and surpassed pre-sale estimates of $1,798,100-2,754,450 for a total of $3,486,434; combined with Thursday, February 10th’s session the two day auction totaled $6,208,752 (versus estimates of $3,489,750-5,343,550).

Comtes Lafon also represented a considerable portion in Dr. Caine’s collection, with the fifty-three lots from this collection totaling $201,404 (versus pre-sale estimates of $101,500-155,840). Comtes Lafon highlights included:
• Lot 1240, 11 bottles Meursault Perrieres Comtes Lafon 1982
SOLD $13,310, estimate $2,800-4,400
• Lot 1250, 1 bottle Montrachet Comtes Lafon 1978
SOLD $4,840, estimate $2,400-4,000
• Lot 1259, 4 bottles Montrachet Comtes Lafon 1992
SOLD $14,520, estimate $6,500-9,500
• Lot 1263, 8 bottles Montrachet Comtes Lafon 1996
SOLD $22,990, estimate $10,000-15,000
• Lot 1264, 1 magnum (1.5L) Montrachet Comtes Lafon 1998
SOLD $4,598, estimate $1,500-2,400

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History

Although, for over a century the Estate has been an established element of Burgundian history, its origins can be traced back to the south-west of France, and more specifically to the Tarn and Garonne.
It fact it was in Valence-sur-Agen that Jules Joseph Barthélémy Lafon was born on March 29th, 1864.

His father, Charles Lafon was Land Registrar in the area and later in the Pyrenees.
Described as 'brilliant' by his professors, Jules completed his studies and joined the Public Registry Office where he was promoted to Inspector in 1887.

Key dates for reference:

  • January 22nd,1894: Married Marie Boch whose family were wine merchants and estate owners in Meursault
  • February, 1906: Resigned from The Public Registry in order to pursue a career in law.
  • December 4th, 1918: Title of Papal Count conferred by the Holy See in recognition of his refusal to use his position of Inspector to oblige clerics to declare their fortunes.
  • 1923: Whilst Mayor of Meursault, Jules Lafon revived the tradition of celebrating the end of the grape harvest with a meal. Although originally for the estate proprietor and his workers he also invited 35 of his friends to a banquet and the famous 'Paulée de Meursault' was born. It rapidly evolved to become, after the banquet at Clos Vougeot and the wine auctions at the Hospice of Beaune, the final stage of the 'Trois Glorieuses'. Nowadays, around 600 people take part each year and during the course of the proceedings, the literary prize of the same name is presented.
  • 1931: Relinquished all responsibilities at the Dijon Courts of Law in order to devote his time exclusively to the estate.
  • January 13th, 1940: Died at his home. Cf. tribute published in 'Le Miroir Dijonnais et de Bourgogne', n° 211, February, 1940.

The varied interests of Jules Lafon included: Amateur art collecting: engravings; tapestries, including Aubusson; furniture, including Boule; coins; medals; Chinese miniatures. A learned man, he had an extensive library; he was a traveller; a writer and even an adventurer as illustrated in the description of his flight in a balloon in August 1892.

The Estate as it exists today was largely established by Jules Lafon and it is important to distinguish the parcels originating from the Marie Boch inheritance (some of which have since been sold, particularly those of generic Burgundy), from other land bought or exchanged:

Pierre and Henri Lafon
What they brought to the estate was of limited interest. Following the premature death of Pierre in 1944, Henri clearly intended to sell off the estate which was mainly rented out to sharecroppers. His son, René Lafon, who at that time lived and worked in Paris was opposed to the idea.
Throughout this period of uncertainty the Estate was farmed by sharecroppers.

René Lafon
Après After his determined intervention to prevent the division of the vineyards, René Lafon took over the estate in 1956 and with the sharecroppers cooperation, set about getting the vineyards back into condition which involved extensive planting. Gradually, a higher and higher proportion of the production was bottled leading to the entire production by 1961. His interest in wine and the vine led him to leave Paris and move permanently to Meursault and to the Victorian abode which remains the home of his wife and himself.

 

 

Dominique Lafon
He took over from his father in 1984, initially with his brother Bruno. In 1987, he gradually terminated the existing sharecropping agreements (9 year leases). Since when, the entire Estate of 13.80 hectares has been managed solely by the Domaine des Comtes Lafon.

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Vineyards

The 16 hectare estate is comprised of some of the most famous 'Crus' in the region. Meursault, Puligny and Montrachet are planted with Chardonnay, and Volnay and Monthélie with Pinot Noir.

Appellation legislation stipulates a high density of plantation, therefore all vines are planted 1m x 1m apart, i.e.10,000 plants per hectare.

The main rootstock used is 3309 and 161-49, a few parcels are grafted onto SO4.

The average age of the vines is high (32 years old), and a large number are mass selected (a visual selection of the most robust vineplants) from our older vine-plants. We replant at a rate of approximately 0.25 ha every two years retaining the older vines which are still in good condition. For these plantations we either select cloned vines (a minimum of 5 different clones per parcel), or mass select from our old vines.

When the vines were reclaimed, the emphasis was immediately placed on vine-growing that was respectful of the environment. We therefore, abandoned using weedkiller in 1992 and now all our vineyards are ploughed. We applied for an organic farming certificate in 1995 and following a three year conversion period it was granted in 1998.
Simultaneously, we began biodynamic trials on 3 ha from 1995 to 1998 which convinced us to adopt the technique throughout the estate from 1998.
We do not use fertilizer but compost made in a combined effort with other wine-growers.

We mainly use the 'Guyot' method of pruning with a lesser proportion of 'Cordon de Royat'.

In springtime, the vines are meticulously de-budded, restricting the number of canes to the minimum in order to produce wines of high quality.The canes are then tied up taking care to spread each one along the trellis to avoid any overcrowding of vegetation. This usually involves passing through the vines three times, carefully monitoring budding along the way.


The grapes are harvested manually after numerous checks for maturity. An initial selection is made on the vine by the pickers in order to eliminate any grey rot and under-ripe berries.. Further sorting follows in the winery when necessary. The aim is to vinify only healthy and ripe grapes. 

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Winemaking


Pressing takes place in two hydraulic, open-cage presses using uncrushed grapes. The cycles are long and gentle, (lasting around 3 hours). The purpose is to extract the juices, low in solid matter, as gently as possible.


Cold Settling and Barrelling
The musts are then cooled if necessary in a thermoregulated, stainless steel tank at around 12°C, in order to encourage settling and to avoid any temperature excess during fermentation. Twenty-four hours later, the grape juice is run off separating it from the thick sediment. This juice is directly transferred to the cellar and put into new or recent barrels depending on the cuvée.

Fermentation
Fermentation begins spontaneously 4 to 6 days later without the addition of selected yeast.
As the cellars are cool, the fermentation temperature does not exceed 22/24°C. It usually takes about 3 months. Progress is monitored twice a week, barrel by barrel, during this period.
When the alcoholic fermentation is over, the wine is dry, i.e. it contains less than 2 g/l residual sugar.
Between the end of the alcoholic fermentation and the start of malolactic fermentation, and following the tasting of the barrels, the lees are stirred on cycles determined according to the vintage and cuvée in order to preserve the quality of the fruit and the elegance of the wines. Decisions are taken barrel by barrel.
Malolactic fermentation usually begins during the month of January and ends in May.

Ageing
The first racking usually takes place in July, retaining the fine lees. The wines are assembled in vats and immediately transferred to older barrels in the cooler, maturing cellar.
The length of ageing depends on the vintage, some will be bottled 18 months later in the spring and the rest in the summer after 22 months.
Before bottling, the wines are usually racked for clarity a second time. They are then laboratory tested and tasted before fining. Usually, a small quantity of bentonite is added and removed 5 weeks later. The wines are then returned to vats ready for bottling.


Red wine vinification
Whilst eliminating the stalks which occasionally impart a herbaceous flavour to the wine, we try to capture the feel of whole lunch fermentation. The aim is to get the maximum number of whole berries into the vats in order to extract the full fruit flavour and to gradually liberate their juice ensuring a slow, regular fermentation and gentle extraction of tannins.

Harvest
After sorting, the grapes are transferred to a de-stemmer, taking particular care not to damage the berries, and from there to the vats by means of a conveyor belt.
We use thermoregulated, insulated, stainless steel vats, cylindrical in shape, and individually adjusted for each wine, (25 to 60 hl). The grapes are immediately cooled to 12° to 15°C.

Fermentation
Fermentation begins spontaneously and slowly after macerating for between 4 to 6 days. It usually lasts roughly 10 days during which time the cap is punched down in each vat once or twice a day.
The wines are devatted and pressed 15 to 20 days after maceration, the decision dependent on the daily tasting of each wine in order to evaluate the level of extraction and the quality of the tannins.

Pressing
Pressing out is swift and very gentle as all the press wines are added to the free run wines.
They are then kept in vats for one to two weeks to allow the sediment not wanted during maturation to settle.

Ageing
The wine is transferred to barrels by gravity. The proportion of new barrels is roughly one third depending on the appellation.
Malolactic fermentation usually begins quite late on our Estate, between March and May.
The wines are first racked after malolactic fermentation ,between June and September, and thenreturned to their original barrels. Usually, they are racked a second time as clear as possible, then bottled after blending in vats.

As with the whites, bottling is scheduled for the spring for certain wines (after maturing for 20 months), or in summer for the others (22 months), determined by tasting.

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Inside information

Today the domain consists of nearly 14 hectares of prime Burgundy vineyards, covering 5 villages and 13 appellations. Since 1998 all the vineyards are managed under bio-dynamic cultivation. The wines range from the tense, edgy and hugely attractive Montrachet and Puligny to the elegant warmth and generosity of his Meursault wines. The reds are infinitely stylish and energetic.

 

White Wines

Le Montrachet Grand Cru
Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres
Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres
Meursault 1er Cru Charmes
Meursault 1er Cru Goutte d'Or
Meursault Clos de la Barre
Meursault Desiree
Meursault
Monthelie blanc

Reds
Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots du Milieu
Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes
Volnay 1er Cru Champans
Montelie 1er Cru Les Duresses

Size of the Vineyards

13.8 Ha

Whites
Le Montrachet Grand Cru 0.32 Ha
Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres 0.77 Ha
Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres 0.55 Ha
Meursault 1er Cru Charmes 1.71 Ha
Meursault 1er Cru Goutte d'Or 0.39 Ha
Meursault Clos de la Barre 2.12 Ha
Meursault Desiree 0.45 Ha
Meursault 1.22 Ha (En la Barre, En Luraule, En Crotots)
Monthelie blanc 0.15 Ha

Reds
Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots du Milieu 3.78 Ha
Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes 0.38 Ha
Volnay 1er Cru Champans 0.52Ha
Monthelie 1er Cru Les Duresses 1.06 Ha

Location of the Vineyards

The estate is located in the village of Meursault

Soil

Limestone - clay

Grape Varieties

All whites : 100% Chardonnay
All reds : 100% Pinot Noir

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14 different wines with 133 vintages

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Cellar Devils 2018 tasting - Wines like Lafon Montrachet, La Chapelle 1978 & 1990, Caymus Special Selection 1990 & 1991 etc.

10d 11h ago

 Michael Schuster, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  9 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  9 wines 

The 1995 is an outstanding vintage for the Lafon white wines, across the range. The low yield resulted in wines of richness (but not heaviness), intensity and a splendid defining acidity. At twelve years old they have the combined attraction of early bottle age characteristics on the nose, ripeness and richness to smell, but still a most refreshing dryness and definition on the palate. Oak was simply not an issue, which I had thought it might be, it was barely perceptible as such.



All the wines are deliciously satisfying already but, given good cellarage (and bearing in mind that I enjoy my wines with plenty of bottle age) there is no hurry to drink them and they have, depending on the cru, at least five to fifteen years of pleasure ahead, the
Montrachet even more. From the
Meursault to  Le Montrachet, these were a joy to taste, and indeed to drink, with not a weak performance amongst them.



They were, of course, perfectly cellared bottles, but none had the least suggestion of premature ageing and all the corks were in remarkable condition for ten years and more bottle age, with very little penetration of wine.



With success across the board, in red and white, this year's Lafon wines are also particularly rewarding as an object lesson in what is meant by
terroir. Each of these wines perfectly demonstrated the subtle individualities of  style and  flavour as well as, even more importantly, the calibration of village, premier cru and grand cru that is Burgundy's uniquely detailed quality hierarchy. A tribute not only to the individual sites, but to the viticulture and winemaking.



And this reflection of 'terroir in the glass' is crucial to our enjoyment of Burgundy's wines because, as consumers, our pleasure in and judgement about what is in the glass is much influenced by our expectations, and rightly so. I had high expectations of both the vintage and the Domaine. I was not disappointed, this was a most exhilarating tasting.

19d 16h ago

 Gagan Sharma / Sommelier, Sommelier (India)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  6 wines 

Romanée Conti 2013 - The bouquet fills the glass with spicy fruit, mineral elements and a hint of integrated French oak, with the darkness and essence of the Romanee Conti true expressions of site. This wine exhibits primary and secondary flavours, which strengthen the overall integration for a seamless finish. It is a tightly packed combination of plums and undergrowth with an edgy acidity – and one of my favourite drops. 97 points

1m 2d ago

 Jasper Morris MW, Pro (United Kingdom)  tasted  7 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  7 wines 

The white wines of 1996 Burgundy, in general, are causing some anxiety about their evolution. Some have taken on distinctly oxidised characters without losing their acidity. It was very instructive therefore to see the full range of 1996 white wines from the Domaine des Comtes Lafon. Two wines showed some signs of early evolution - Clos de la Barre and Perrières - but the others did not. However wines which have been less than perfectly stored away from the Domaine may be evolving more quickly.


 

1m 3d ago

 Michael Schuster, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  4 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  4 wines 

Comtes Lafon Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 1995 / Brilliant, brick edged medium depth ruby; a little reduced on the nose initially, but a real density of fruit and matter apparent here, and a clear minerality too, a strong sense of the terroir alongside the fruit - a nose which promises a rather sterner wine than the previous two, but which also evolves to a fine bouquet as it sits in the glass: very ripe red and black fruit, mocha, minerals…; a well balanced medium to full bodied wine, still with a fairly firm tannin and acidity. There is plenty of substance here, without coarseness, but needing time to mellow; at present it is chewy in texture round abundant, brisk, red cherry fruit, with a strong mineral aroma; tenacious, clinging to the palate and with a long, warm, tastily red fruited, aromatic finish. 1er Cru complexity clear, but less obviously 'Volnay', to me, than the previous two. This is a wine of structure and musculature - you sense the iron rich red clay soil - but which still needs at least five years to mellow. Mouthfilling and generous, but also austere; a 'grander' wine than the Clos des Chênes and Champans but more forbidding for the moment. 17p

1m 16d ago

 Jasper Morris MW, Pro (United Kingdom)  tasted  4 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  4 wines 

1996 is a favourite vintage of mine for the red wines of Burgundy - the balance of fruit and acidity has always appealed to me, and it seems much better integrated in the red wines of the year compared to the whites. I have not started to taste many '96s, expecting the acidity to keep them youthful for many years ahead, so it was fascinating to take time to taste in detail the four red wines from the Domaine des Comtes Lafon.

1m 25d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  4 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  77 wines 

Le Montrachet, Domaine des Comtes Lafon 2009 / Quite a lot of new wood masks the flavour and character of the wine on the nose. Plus there is a bit of reduction. I don't find the grip, depth and class I am expecting in Le Montrachet. The follow through is a bit weak. No better than very good today.

3m 26d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  36 wines 

The 2009 white wines in the Côte d'Or are attractive but not as successful. Yes: there is no lack of ripe, succulent fruit, but here I do have to search more extensively for the sort of reserve I seek; the austerity at this stage that indicates the wine will be better at eight years old than at four. The quality in the Mâconnais as well as Chablis has been to some extent compromised by their local weather conditions. In general I prefer the 2008s and 2010s in both cases, but there are no long faces. It may be the Côte de Beaune and the Côte Chalonnaise have got the best of it this year, as far as white wines are concerned; but elsewhere growers are nevertheless more than happy. The Beaujolais crus, on the other hand, are terrific. These are the best Beaujolais I have enjoyed for many a year.

4m 16d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  2 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  16 wines 

2005 - A magnificent red wine vintage. This was a dry year, though never particularly hot, save for a heat-wave in May. A hail-storm on 17 July devastated the vines between the villages of Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet. After a mixed August, and much-needed rain on 6 September, the skies cleared and it became increasingly sunny and warm. The Côte d'Or harvest began in the middle of the month and was all but complete by the week-end of 1st. October.

7m 7d ago

 Omar Khan, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  11 wines 

Romanee Conti 1978 / Simply staggering, unlike anything else on the palate you could conceive of. The amalgam of deep fruit, suave and sensual poise, coupled with such entrancing balance and structure is extraordinary. Licorice, cherries, spicy red fruit on the nose. Sheer velvet at the mid palate, and then just penetrating beauty, blackberries and plums, a mouth perfume of violets -- an anthem to primary and tertiary beauty encased in haunting Vosne spice. You have ravishing majesty here. 100 Points

8m 2d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  2 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  13 wines 

Burgundy was beset by two problems in 2004: an unprecedented outbreak of oidium (which attacks the fruit, rather than the leaves) and several attacks of hail. Moreover, the crop was more than plentiful, and the season was wetter than usual, greyer than normal and colder than the average. There was an attack of ladybirds, say some, though what effect this would have on the potential crop was not made clear. Ladybirds, after all, are major predators against aphids. September, however, was kind, and what looked like being a disaster at the beginning of the month did in fact turn out at least OK - in those vineyards correctly maintained - for reds, and better still for whites.

11m 23d ago

 Guo Ying / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Château Lynch-Bages 2005 / Dark, purple colour. Very open and complex nose revealing, cassis, capsicum, coffee and mintiness. The very same aromas as Mouton has on the nose. Opulent medium-bodied wine with extraordinary concentration and a chewy texture. Ripe round tannins with a mouthwatering acidity and intense dark fruitiness. Flavour shows dark chocolate and hints of anise. Very intense and long finish. Absolutely gracious wine with a long life ahead. Further bottle ageing of 10-15 years will enhance the charm of the wine.

1y 3d ago

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