An haute-couture wine estate and merchant in the heart of the Burgundy winegrowing region.
As my phone calls with Burgundian producers continue, the 2021 vintage seems increasingly unique. When I asked Franck Grux, head winemaker at Olivier Leflaive, how the «Récolte du Domaine» fared in 2021, he replied «du jamais vu en 34 ans» (never seen in 34 years). The common theme across their seven wines is the tiny crop (only 20% of an average year). That is not a lot of wine, especially when most of these holdings are only several rows. Franck also added that the mature age of the vines limits their production and their chance of record-high volume. To give you an idea, the Meursault Sous le Dos d’Ane was planted in the early 80s. As a result of the small harvest, we unfortunately don’t have any Chevalier-Montrachet this year.
The harvest was 30 days later than normal because the savage April frosts delayed the vine cycle by a month. This cold snap burnt most of the chardonnay buds that were already out owing to a warmer than average winter. The vines then had to start growing fruit on the less productive second generation’s buds.
Yet to echo producers in the region, 2021 is a good vintage «c’est un bon millésime» in Franck’s words. Despite being small, the final crop was healthy and ripe. During the growing season, the domaine focused on phenolic maturity and so, there is a great balance between the sugar and acidity. Because of the cool weather the wines are dry, with little to no residual sugar and mark a return to a more traditional style. The vintage stands apart from the very ripe style of the past warm years with exotic, rich fruit flavors and high sugar level. In 2021, the whites are razor-sharp, mineral, angular. Franck used very little new oak and favored barriques of 1 to 2 years for the ageing.
As an anecdote, Franck told me the Olivier Leflaive Aligoté is the ‘winner’ this vintage. Unusually it benefited from a high proportion of new oak ageing as they wanted to season barrels for coming years. They will be ‘haute couture’ aligoté.
Managing Director, Corney & Barrow Asia
‘An AUGUST vintage, (in every sense of the word!)’ - Franck Grux Technical Director, Maison Olivier Leflaive
In the three decades since Maison Olivier Leflaive was established, it has quietly forged an impressive reputation. Starting as a negociant house, to source wines outside Puligny, Olivier and Patrick have nevertheless acquired pristine vines in prized appellations, along the years, to constitute a ‘Domaine Olivier Leflaive’. At the top of these vineyards’ holding are 5 plots inherited from the Domaine Leflaive land. These vines are carefully looked after Philippe Grillet and the wines are made by Franck Grux, with the same attention to details as the other wines. Labelled under ‘Recolte du Domaine’, this is what we are offering in this release.
THE 2021 VINTAGE AT OLIVIER LEFLAIVE
Meursault 1er Cru Sous le Dos d'Âne
The vineyard is in fact in the hamlet of Blagny, near the 1er Cru Perrières plot. The soil has a high proportion of limestone and marls on which vines strive. the wines were planted in 1983 making this amature plot. Franck commented that the wine is more Meursault in character than past years, with richer aromas. It is bolder, more voluptuous, probably because harvested 2~3 days later. 25% of a normal year.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot
The Morgeot climat in Chassagne is rather large. The lieu-dit Abbaye de Morgeot sits in the middle, south of the village, in a warmer site with high content of clay in the sub-soil. It was slightly less affected than the other vineyards in the village during the April Black Frost. The domaine maked about 30% of a normal vintage. Bone dry white wine, rich, intense and powerful.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos Saint Marc
The plot is located near the stone quarry in Chassagne, beneath the forest. It neighbours the vineyard of St Aubin, south of the 1er Cru les Chenevottes. It is a lieu-dit within the 1er Cru Les Vergers vineyard. Olivier Leflaive owns close to 50% of this appellation. Initially it was planted with Pinot Noir but Franck replanted it with Chardonnay. It is a wine with more finesse than power, dominated by floral notes. In 2021 only 15% of a normal harvest was bottled.
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles
As with other cuvées, only 25% of a normal crop was bottled. That is less than 2,000 bottles. Puligny Les Pucelles is an aristocratic wine, with refinement and style. This is a grand cru in disguise. «Celui à mettre en cave» (the one to cellar) said Franck, conscientious that 2021 is a minute crop. Finesse, purity, tension and perfectly ripe aromas describe best this wine. Humble as he is, Franck acknowledged that the vine should take all the credits («Une vigne parfaite» or a perfect vine).
Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
With only 20% of a normal crop Franck decided to age the wine in a barrel of 1 wine. The ageing was key, he was meticulous, he took his time because this is a wine of character. Very dry, taught, complex, this is a cuvée which will require patience.