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Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru – 2013 – 93+ points – Vinous
“Deeper-pitched on the nose than the Bienvenue, offering musky, slightly reduced scents of very ripe peach and grilled nuts. Sweet, large-scaled and powerful but youthfully laid-back today. More tannic than the Bienvenue but the firm finishing…”
Stephen Tanzer, September 2015
Domaine Leflaive is the very summit of white Burgundy, producing outstanding wines that have the capacity to be very long-lived and develop richness, depth, and complexity with bottle-age. The Domaine owns and tends almost 25 hectares of vineyards mainly located in and around Puligny-Montrachet. Their holdings include 0.08 hectares of Le Montrachet, 2 hectares of Chevalier-Montrachet, 1.91 hectares of Bâtard-Montrachet, 1.6 hectares of Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, and Puligny- Montrachet 1er Crus; Le Clavoillon, Les Combettes, Les Folatières, and Les Pucelles. Domaine Leflaive has been totally biodynamic since 1997. These are some of the most highly sought-after white wines in the world.
Origin / 4 parcels in the Bâtard-Montrachet appellation.
Bâtard 7: 7 ouvrées (0.74 acre) planted in 1974 (commune of Chassagne)
Bâtard 8: 8 ouvrées (0.85 acre) planted in 1979 (commune of Puligny)
Bâtard 9: 9 ouvrées (0.95 acre) planted in 1989 (commune of Chassagne)
Bâtard 21: 21 ouvrées (2.22 acres) planted half in 1962, half in 1964 (commune of Puligny).
Surface: 1ha 91a (4.72 acres).
Method of culture
Long, gentle pneumatic pressing, decanting over 24 hours, thenracking and running into cask of the must.
Alcoholic fermentation in oak casks, 25% new (maxi 1/2 Vosges,
mini 1/2 Allier).
Maturing: after 12 months in cask, the wine is aged 6 months in tank where it is prepared for bottling.
Homeopathic fining and very light filtering if necessary.
Manual harvesting with grape sorting and optimisation of choice of date through parcel-by-parcel ripeness monitoring
At the beginning of 2004, SCE Domaine Leflaive acquired five parcels (Les Chênes, En Perret, Le Monté, Escolles and Les Muses) of mature Chardonnay vines in the commune of Verzé in the Mâconnais (the Mâcon-Verzé appellation) — a total of 9.30 hectares (22.98 acres).
From the very first year, the vines were cultivated biodynamically. Cultivation of the vineyards is carried out by Paul de Noüe (a member of the Leflaive family) within SCE Joseph LEFLAIVE, which is a subsidiary of Domaine Leflaive. All viticulture is supervised by Eric Remy, Domaine Leflaive’s estate manager.
Harvest is entirely manual, with pressing in Verzé in buildings purchased at the same time as the vineyards. Each day following decantation, the grape musts are taken to Puligny-Montrachet for fermentation and maturation under the watchful eye of Domaine Leflaive’s cellar team. Vinification is carried out in tanks, and aging continues for 15 to 16 months in cuves, 50% stainless steel, 50% Béton concrete.
The resulting wine is one of great purity, with floral notes and minerality, expressing a lively energy and ready to be enjoyed earlier than the premier cru wines of the domaine but at the same time as the Puligny-Montrachet.
HARVEST REPORT 2013 RED BURGUNDY
As far as weather was concerned, 2013 was not your typical year. It was at times cool, then hot with severe storms, followed by heavy rains hailstorms and then dry times with some occasional warm periods. It is a vintage that growers are calling the ultimate terroir vintage. Whenever you have a vintage that is not over ripe or alcoholic, or under ripe and very acid, the terroir can show through. This is not a vintage that lacked fruit or acidity or charm, it had all three, but it did not have a lot of power or concentration. This was true for many, and especially those who went for more production, or panicked and harvested too early resulting in the lowest sugars since 2008.
The average temperatures for the first 3 months of the year were 5.4oF cooler than normal. Temps were normal in April; May temps were below normal resulting in a very late flowering – the last time flowering took place that late was in 2008. May was also rainy, 34% above normal rainfall levels. It was rainy in June as well which resulted in uneven flowering with shatter and a bad fruit set. This trend (of bad and uneven fruit set) has been going on since 2010 with 2012 having a particularly poor fruit set.
In July the weather became warmer with periods or rain and a devastating hailstorm on July 23rd. Hardest hit were the communes of Pernand, Savigny les Beaune, Beaune, Pommard Volnay and Meursault. Some of the appellations were so badly hit that 100% of their crop was lost, this was particularly the case in Volnay and Pommard. Some of the same appellations were also hit in 2014 making it 4 years in a row with significant hail damage. The fact that this hailstorm came late in the vegetative cycle caused the wine to have a very dry harsh edge which covered up what little fruit there was to begin with.
The amount of sunlight hours was very low in the first 3 months of the year, 30% below normal. However, in July the amount of sunlight was plus 20 in July and August when it counted most. It did not get really hot during the normal summer months of July and August. There were 8 days in July that hit 86oF and above and only 3 in August with the latter half of the month quite cool. As far as rain was concerned, there was nothing more then a trace from August 1st to the 24th, and then nothing much again until September 9th when 1.02 inches fell. There were periods of rain after the 24th, but nothing serious enough to cause any problems with rot.
The fact that it was cool during the month of August prevented any recurrence of mildew and odium which were problems in early July. The cool weather, plus the late flowering, meant that veraison occurred on August 15th and harvest did not begin until the last week of September. Growers harvested in October for the first time in years – not since 2008. The quality of the fruit was far superior in the Côtes de Nuits, as has been the case for many years, other than in the truly great years where all regions were successful. The fact that full flowering was between June 23rd and the 26th made for a later harvest but possibly one of the reasons that the soils were so expressive in the juice.
I was very surprised at the quality of the 2013’s – the fact that they were very fresh and juicy and low in tannins and were not green. They should be drunk in their youth, but some of them were far greater than I could imagine. It is possible that certain appellations are superior to 2012 in the Côte de Nuits if there was careful attention paid to production or hand sorting. It is not a vintage without problematic wines but there is a lot to enjoy.
As far as pricing is concerned, most wines were the same price as in 2012; no one went down in price and a few growers went up. There is very little wine to be had and prices are high in bulk with so many small crops. I am afraid that the lesser appellations such as Bourgogne Rouge are going to go way up because that was the category that was affordable, the Grand Crus from the Côte de Nuits are only for millionaires now.