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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 191 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

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

 Richard Hemming MW, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  31 wines 

Penfolds G5, Released on 1 November, final one of the 'g' trio. 2,200 bottles made. 2018 and 2016 (blended out of barrel), plus 2014, 2012 and 2010 (blended out of bottle). 70% Barossa. 97% Shiraz, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Finished in used oak.
Opened ten hours earlier. Intoxicating oak scent – drenched with coconut and vanilla. Lusciously fruited, of course, with a few degrees more subtlety than the Grange 2017. Brambles from start to finish, with not a thorn in sight. It is a marvel of blending, without any peppery character, but all the richness and history of Barossa Shiraz. Finishes with black liquorice.

8m 13d ago

 Neal Martin/BWW2022 - Best Bordeaux Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  19 wines 

The DRC 2020 La Tâche Grand Cru had not been racked and so I was able to taste this from barrel, unlike the Romanée-Conti. It has haunting precision on the nose, introverted at first, dark berry fruit like the Grands-Echézeaux but with more complexity. The palate is very pure with a granular texture on the entry, immense depth and precision, a killer line of acidity with a very sapid finish. Quintessentially La Tâche. If only there were a time-machine so I could fast-forward and taste this exquisite La Tâche in bottle. 97-99

9m 5d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  29 wines 

1982 is an iconic vintage for Bordeaux, and for many wine lovers, it’s a reference point as a modern, ripe year that was delicious from the onset. The top wines are still holding up well and show no signs of fading. However, some of the lesser wines are starting to show its age. This ripe vintage has given us a wide drinking window, regardless of the specific appellation and terroir. For those that still have some top 1982 Bordeaux in your cellar, there is no rush to pull the cork. A long life ahead awaits these beauties.

10m 29d ago

 Antonio Galloni, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  6 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Armand  Rousseau The 2008 Chambertin is rather delicate and almost ethereal in its seductive personality. This is another surprisingly open, expressive 2008. The tannins are elegant, while the wine’s balance is simply terrific. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2038. 

1y 1m ago

 Stephen Tanzer, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  18 wines 

DRC Romanée Conti 2008 / Good medium red, but hazy from the recent racking. The nose shows darker aromas than La T a che: berries, violet, Oriental spices. At once spherical and penetrating, with a silkiness that bathes the palate in berry, pepper, spice and mineral flavors. Comes across as fatter than La T a che today, with a stronger early impression of sweetness. Boasts a three-dimensional texture and uncanny depth, but this is sure to shut down in the bottle. Perhaps most impressive now on the back end, which features great rising length and grip.

1y 4m ago

 Neal Martin/BWW2022 - Best Bordeaux Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  2 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  16 wines 

Domaine Dugat-Py Chambertin Grand Cru 2019/ 
The 2019 Chambertin Grand Cru is the usual solitary barrel this year, incorporating 80–90% whole-bunch fruit. It does have difficulty following the stellar Mazis-Chambertin, coming across a little straightlaced by comparison, though attractive pressed flower and marine scents emerge with aeration. The palate is very well balanced with bold, firm tannins. This is where the wine steps up a gear, offering intense red and black fruit laced with white pepper and clove, and delivering a crescendo that brings to mind the thunderous piano chord that finishes the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Very persistent and grandiose, this deserves several years in bottle. 95-97p

1y 8m ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  47 wines 

Domaine Etienne Sauzet Montrachet Grand Cru 2017
Incredible intensity and depth in this Montrachet in 2017. Focused, complex with layers of toasted nuts, white flowers and lots of minerals. Wonderful example of this grand cru vineyard. The wine stands out as clearly the most complex and intense from Sauzet. From 50-60 year old vines; only 4 barrels made.


99 points

1y 10m ago

 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  23 wines 

The 2011 Comtes Lafon Montrachet showed some banana on the nose and palate, with a tropical sweetness and a touch of glue. It was initially a bit awkward on the finish, but Alberto noticed it got better and drier with food, becoming his favorite. I agreed that it got better, and so Pitts, channeling his inner Tony the Tiger and proclaiming, ‘it’s great!’ (95p).

2y 2d ago

 Jancis Robinson MW, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine des Comtes Lafon . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Cristal 2008 / 16% malo, only on Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. ‘There were lots of similarities with 1996, which gave us the possibility to replay the 1996 vintage! Maybe we picked 1996 a bit early so in 2008 we waited longer, by at least a week, than in 1996. Lots of tasting – far more than in 1996 when Roederer based picking only on analysis – and there was no malo in 1996.’ For the first time ever, they decided to release it later than the younger vintage, 2009 – so 2008 had nine years on lees. The last batch of 2008 will be disgorged in March 2019. (Scan the back label via the Roederer app to get the disgorgement year.) Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon is coy about the assemblage. ‘I’m looking for chalkiness.’ In 2008 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, which reflects perfectly the balance of their plantings. 40% of the estate was biodynamic then.
Really dense nose with lots of evolution but still extreme freshness. Some apple-skin character. Bone dry but wonderful lift and freshness. Long and super-lively. Real undertow, but very racy on the nose. Lots to chew on. Really elegant!

2y 18d ago

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