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Leflaive moves south to Maconnais

Leading Burgundy producer Domaine Leflaive has followed the example of other Burgundy legends by expanding into the historically-undervalued south of the region.

This month Anne-Claude Leflaive of the Puligny-Montrachet estate is starting to turn over her new 9ha estate at Verzé in the Mâconnais region to biodynamic methods, in preparation for this year’s first vintage.

She told decanter.com she had been inspired by the example of Dominique Lafon, of Domaine Lafon in Meursault, who has been a proprietor at nearby Milly Lamartine, in the Maconnais, since 1999.

She also admires the wines of Olivier Merlin, another new neighbour at La Roche Vineuse, who is credited with much of the current renaissance of the Mâconnais.

‘It’s always exciting to experiment and to make new discoveries,’ Leflaive said. ‘This is a superb vineyard and I’m keen to see how it will respond to biodynamic techniques.’ She is re-starting ploughing, after years of use of chemical herbicides, and is beginning spraying with biodynamic preparations.

So far there are no winemaking facilities at Verzé so the grapes will be vinified at Domaine Leflaive’s Puligny-Montrachet cellars. The main difference from the estate’s legendary grand and premier crus is that the new appellation Mâcon-Verzé wines will be bottled after only one year for earlier drinking. Prices will be similar to the Lafon Mâcon wines – generally below €10 a bottle.

One of the first of the big Burgundy producers to branch out into less prestigious appellations was Aubert de Villaine of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in the mid 1970s, when he bought an estate at Bouzeron in the Côte Chalonnaise.

In 1997 the Beaune merchant house of Louis Jadot began operations in Beaujolais, buying Château des Jacques, with holdings in Moulin-a-Vent. ‘It’s just impossible to buy land in the Côte d’Or,’ says Anne-Claude Leflaive – although she is currently doing just that, with the purchase of a tiny holding of one third of a hectare of village-level Puligny-Montrachet vineyards.

Written by Patrick Matthews

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