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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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13 different wines with 94 vintages

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Wine Moments

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 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.

3m 19d 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.

3m 29d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  2 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  31 wines 

In Burgundy, 2010 prices rose, but not by much. Growers were already aware of the deficit in quantity when they announced their 2009 prices, so a gentle shading upwards (I speak in Euros), was the order of the day, except that the elastic between the village wines and the less fashionable premiers crus on the one hand, and the grands crus and top village premiers crus on the other, continues to widen. You will pay increasingly higher prices for Richebourg, Puligny-Montrachet, Les Folatières and Vosne-Romanée, Les Beaumonts, while Savigny-Lès-Beaune, premier cru and Paul Jacqueson's Rully, La Pucelles remain a bargain.

4m 13d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  5 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  26 wines 

For 2010 Burgundy vintage prices rose, but not by much. Growers were already aware of the deficit in quantity when they announced their 2009 prices, so a gentle shading upwards (I speak in Euros), was the order of the day, except that the elastic between the village wines and the less fashionable premiers crus on the one hand, and the grands crus and top village premiers crus on the other, continues to widen. You will pay increasingly higher prices for Richebourg, Puligny-Montrachet, Les Folatières and Vosne-Romanée, Les Beaumonts, while Savigny-Lès-Beaune, premier cru and Paul Jacqueson's Rully, La Pucelles remain a bargain.

5m 2d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  44 wines 

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 2010 / 20.0 points.


Fine colour. Aromatic, minerally nose. Not as fat as La Tache or Richebourg. A bit more of the stems. Best on the follow through. Very, very lovely complex fruit. Marvelous long, lingering finish. Truly excellent.

5m 16d ago

 Marco Michieletti, Wine Dealer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  11 wines 

Undesputably, Burdundy counts as the wine growing region where some of the best wines are coming from. Burgundy has a higher number of appellations d'origine contrôlée (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions.

6m 8d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  32 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.

7m 12d ago

 Thomas Alsgaard, Pro (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Martha's Vineyard 1970, Sassicaia 1970, Grange 1970, Unico 1970 etc.

7m 16d ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  16 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  16 wines 

1985 Comte Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre / Pale golden. Lots of smoke and vanilla, seems to be a lot of barrels. Behind a lot of nuances, floral and even some tropical notes, flinty. Fresh acidity, fruity, bit ripe, elegant minerality, some citrus, again that floral touch and slight tropical note. Just a bit short, but lovely. Served blind, I found both Meursault and Lafon but missed the vintage by fifteen years, I was on 2000. 93

7m 21d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  4 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  16 wines 

“In 2010 prices rose in Burgundy, but not by much. Growers were already aware of the deficit in quantity when they announced their 2009 prices, so a gentle shading upwards (I speak in Euros), was the order of the day, except that the elastic between the village wines and the less fashionable premiers crus on the one hand, and the grands crus and top village premiers crus on the other, continues to widen. You will pay increasingly higher prices for Richebourg, Puligny-Montrachet, Les Folatières and Vosne-Romanée, Les Beaumonts, while Savigny-Lès-Beaune, premier cru and Paul Jacqueson's Rully, La Pucelles remain a bargain.”

1y 2m ago

 Georg Linde, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  25 wines 

“Hermitage La Chapelle 1978 / "Youthful colour. Deep bouquet of cedar, cassis, hrbs. On the palate a nice melange of eukalyptus, candied fruits, silky tannins. This bottle was extremely young and almost forbidding until it opened up."”

1y 4m ago

 Martine Balzani (Mäkijärvi), Wine Lover (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“Amazing Tastings in Burgundy! Wonderful Domaines and so brillant Wine Makers! Perfect experience !”

1y 5m ago

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