From €19, $36.99, 46 Swiss francs, £31 in bond
One of the more surprising results of our recent online survey was that, by a small margin, more Purple pagers were interested in Burgundy than in Bordeaux. (We will be publishing the detailed results of this members' survey very soon, and also plan to announce the names of the five most helpful respondents to our survey of non-members this week.)
I hope this week's wine will be of particular interest to lovers of white burgundy, although so high has been the incidence of random oxidation in white burgundies that some wine lovers have given up on this category altogether - see, for example, the White burgundy despair thread on our forum, dating from Sep 2008. Along with Coche-Dury, Domaine Leflaive is a reliable and recognisable beacon in the treacherous landscape that is the land of white burgundy. Both these producers have a very recognisable style: piercingly high acidity, a smoky, highly reductive nose and crystalline, vibrant fruit on the palate.
The most glamorous wines produced by these two domaines are very limited in quantity and command fairly eye-watering prices, but their straight Bourgogne Blancs provide a more realistic opportunity to taste top-quality white burgundy. (In fact Coche-Dury's Bourgogne Aligoté can also be a fine drink and, unlike most Aligotés, lasts several years in bottle.)
Domaine Leflaive is one of the more substantial domaines in the Côte de Beaune. They have 3.34 hectares, or more than eight acres of clay-limestone soils just downhill of the premier cru Puligny-Montrachet, Les Enseignières (where Coche-Dury have a fine holding), that qualify for the straight Bourgogne appellation. They also declassify the less successful ingredients from their 4.64 hectares that qualify as village Puligny-Montrachet, which means that, for Burgundy, relatively substantial quantities of Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc are produced. The search engine www.wine-searcher.com cites listings for the 2007 vintage all over Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand - though none in Asia (Bourgogne Blanc may not be smart enough for Asian connoisseurs). Mind you, there is even wider disparity between prices around the globe than usual, France seems to be the best place to buy this classic wine.
Anne-Claude Leflaive is the member of the extended Leflaive clan currently in charge of the domaine, having taken over from her father Vincent on his death in 1993. It is worth pointing out that under her determined stewardship, Leflaive's vineyards were some of the first in Burgundy to be converted to biodynamic viticulture. This Dom Leflaive 2007 Bourgogne Blanc is drinking beautifully now and, like all Leflaive wines, seems to have special vitality. Bone dry and bracingly mineral, this wine is no shrinking violet and was the perfect foil for wild Irish salmon with hollandaise sauce at Ballymaloe House in Co Cork last weekend. I would drink it over the next three or four years as it doesn't have the intensity of Leflaive's grander wines.
In the UK, as usual with finer wines, it is frustratingly difficult to buy it in quantities less than six or a dozen bottles but Corney & Barrow and Armit are jointly the official importers and Fine & Rare Wines are quoting £31 per single bottle excluding UK duty and VAT (whatever it may be by the time Fine & Rare get the wine in stock).
It is important, incidentally, to distinguish Domaine Leflaive, which bottles only grapes it grows itself, from wines carrying the name of Anne-Claude Leflaive's cousin Olivier Leflaive, who runs his own, quite separate successful négociant business down the road from the domaine in Puligny-Montrachet. He also runs a useful small hotel-restaurant in the village, incidentally.