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May 18, 2022

News #12

Praising diversity

The new Esprit Leflaive collection offers eight unique wines that express the superb terroirs of Burgundy and a deep understanding of Chardonnay and ... Pinot Noir. The Domaine explores other territories, with selected winegrowers who often work very old vines harvested by the Domaine's teams. General Manager Pierre Vincent recounts the launch of the 2018 vintage.

Why did you create the Esprit Leflaive collection?

When I arrived in 2017, Domaine Leflaive only produced Chardonnay, of course Puligny but also Mâcon, which was a first form of diversity. We wished to go further, to explore other beautiful terroirs. Our goal was to still make exceptional wines in the spirit of craftsmen, in modest quantities, from 300 up to 4,000 bottles depending on the cuvées. In addition to our clientele of fine restaurants, this collection can allow us to reach the clientele of bistronomic restaurants, to offer other amateurs the opportunity to discover Leflaive.

Esprit Leflaive thus extends its territory to Chablis...

We had to go there. In Chablis, we are in Burgundy with a very strong terroir marker. When blind tasting, you immediately recognize a Chablis. We wanted to see if we were able to bring something to a very well-established appellation. Bringing our Leflaive touch, above all finding balance with the character of Chablis wines. Because sooner or later, the terroir always ends up expressing itself.

The Esprit Leflaive wines have three cuvées in red. You wanted to work with pinot noir again?

Yes! When you love Pinot Noir, you can't live without it. I tried to bring my know-how in the vinification of reds. Very good reds from the first vintage: the same as before but better. From this first 2018 vintage, we wanted to produce Pinot Noir with finesse and elegance, without falling into slenderness, but finding substance and depth. This is ultimately the stylistic definition of our whites, of the Domaine. This diversity of the Esprit Leflaive collection is interesting for all the wines of the Domaine and we are going to expand it on the following vintages to two Beaune Premier Cru, a Savigny Premier Cru and a Gevrey-Chambertin.

In search of marine fossils

Assisting winegrowers for twenty years in France and abroad, geologist Françoise Vannier worked on the Puligny terroirs of Domaine Leflaive in 2019. She recounts unexpected discoveries that make the wines unique and rich.

"My work consists of deepening the technical knowledge of the terroirs, to better understand the nature of the soils and subsoils: sending electromagnetic waves, digging soil pits, exploring how the soils behave in their physical and chemical aspects. 

At the request of Brice de La Morandière, I intervened on the Puligny plots of the Domaine. First of all, you have to imagine that Burgundy, in its long geological history, was a shallow sea that stretched as far as the eye could see to the Paris Basin and England in a tropical climate! It was a place of life for multiple organisms: algae, shells, animals...of which we still find fossils today. Very little fossil material is found on the surface because they deteriorate quickly, but when you dig, you discover all this rich material. 

We thus found in the upper third of the Chevalier-Montrachet plots a cousin of the mussel and the clam, scientifically named Pholadomya Bellona. The upper part of Bâtard-Montrachet also contains fossils, ferruginous oolite. This is a specificity of the Leflaive plot, which must be understood to determine cultivation practices or the choice of a rootstock."

Soil is the wealth of a Domaine

Soil preservation is an essential issue in the winemaking of tomorrow: how biodynamic practices and horse plowing contribute to this at Domaine Leflaive.

"At Domaine Leflaive, all the vines are followed with the same attention to detail. The grapes are vinified identically, whether they are plots in the Burgundy appellation or in the Grand Cru. The wines, then, offer a very diverse palette, as well as various aptitudes for aging. It is good that the terroir makes a difference, through the constitution and composition of the soils," explains Brice de la Morandière.

How to work these soils to preserve them and to magnify the terroirs?

Solutions recommended by organic and biodynamic winemaking provide the first relevant answers: the absence of any chemical treatment is necessarily beneficial, as is the development of biodiversity with microfauna and microflora. Similarly, the grass in the vines protects against erosion... All this makes the soil more alive. Plowing practices also have a significant impact, with consequences on root growth and on the presence of organic matter.

Horse plowing practiced at the Domaine is not an artifice, it has an agronomic interest: it is more gentle and does not compact the soil. All you have to do is walk through the plots of Grands Crus or the Premier Cru Les Pucelles to feel that the earth is supple like a cotton mattress. The roots will more easily dive and explore the soil, the abundant rains will be absorbed, and erosion avoided. 

To work the entire vineyard with horses, you would need a whole stable! An idea developed by the teams remedies this: implementing rotations. A horse year, a mechanical year, a year without any passage... It is also a way of adapting to the vintage: on a hot year, you have to work the soil less to keep the water; on a rainy year like 2021, we must control the weeds to avoid competition with the vines. Whatever the vintage calls for, we always respect the vine and work it with a limited number of means to allow nature to express itself.


Macon-Verzé Blanc 2020, Brice de la Morandière's favorite

"Energy, finesse, minerality: our Mâcon-Verzé has all the qualities of a great wine. I particularly liked it in the 2020, a great vintage in Burgundy, but it expresses itself just as well in more difficult vintages. 

I attribute this aptitude to the work of the soil and our vinification practices, always according to the principles of biodynamics, with our team at Domaine Leflaive. The long aging of 15 to 16 months, in various containers, also uses very little wood, which contributes to the wine's consistency. 

In the end, the nuances of expression of the different terroirs of the village of Verzé are affirmed. Mâcon-Verzé is a great wine that remains affordable and available online for private customers on our website ".