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While value is relative in the ever more expensive world of Burgundy, perhaps no grower offers as much value as Jean et Gilles Lafouge. The wines are precise, honest and satisfying at prices that allow for (nearly) everyday drinking as well as cellaring beautifully. John Gilman's excellent View From the Cellar concurs: "Gilles Lafouge has made outstanding wines in 2016" and of course we agree, although in this classically structured vintage the wines were showing quite tight and dense when first shipped last year. Twelve months later, the wines are more open and expressive and we see the superb quality from this low-yielding vintage, with both whites and reds showing a great balance, between the pronounced mineral flavors with firm acidities, and the dense, expressive fruit with just the right degree of ripeness. Domaine Lafouge is definitely "under the radar" but is producing beautiful Burgundies that are superb values!
There is excellent vineyard work here, in the process to becoming organic, with very short pruning and no green harvest. Hand-harvesting and wild-yeast fermentations of course, about 10 to 25% new oak, minimal batonnage for the whites and natural clarifications. Recent tastings with Gilles Lafouge have been fantastic, with the wines showing beautiful balance, especially in this very "classic" Burgundy vintage. A particular standout and superb value is the "village" Auxey-Duresses Rouge - it shows pretty aromatics with lovely ripeness and balance on the palate - it's delicious now and will drink nicely over the next eight to ten years.
"The 2016 red wines from Auxey-Duresses from the domain are quite black fruity in personality and show lovely structure for medium to long-term aging, with classic balances and plenty of aromatic complexity already in evidence. The two Pommards are oustanding, with the inherent elegance of the 2016 vintage very much apparent in both wines out of the blocks. Gilles Lafouge is at the top of his game today and this in now one of the most consistently satisfying stops on my Burgundy tour each trip." - John Gilman "The View from the Cellar"
Wines arrive Thursday 10/17, quantities are limited
From a north-facing parcel fairly high on the slope next to Meursault Les Vireuils. The Lafouge "Les Hautés" is a beautifully dense and well-structured Burgundy in this low-yielding vintage. The wine shows a bright gold color with aromas of spiced pear and apple, melon, honeysuckle, stone, flint and lemon zest. The palate is dense and well structured with ripe white fruits, toasted almond, citrus and flinty mineral flavors - quite ripe but with firm citrusy acids and fabulous length. Serve now with sole meunier, turbot and cod - this will be a beautiful wine with 5 to 8 years of cellaring. David Lillie
"Les Boutonniers" is contiguous with Meursault "Meix Chavaux" on shallow soils of clay, high in iron, over the limestone bedrock, usually giving a somewhat lean and very "mineral" white Burgundy, but still with a bit more fat and fruit expression than the Lafouge "Les Hautés." The 2016 shows very floral aromas with pear, citrus and stone. The palate is crystalline, supple and dense, with nice weight on the palate, with pretty white fruits leading to a long finish with citrus peel, spice and mineral flavors. This is a lovely, very refreshing Burgundy to enjoy with grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses. It's delicious now and will cellar nicely for eight to ten years. DL
Les Meix Chavaux is located beneath Les Luchets and adjacent to Les Chevalières. Lafouge's vines are 80 years old, planted in calcareous clay producing Meursault with textbook richness and minerality. "The bouquet is lovely, offering up a deep and youthful blend of pear, apple, hazelnut, a fine base of soil and a touch of lime peel in the upper register. On the palate, the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and complex, with a fine core and very nice focus and grip on the long easy-going finish." John Gilman "The View from the Cellar."
The Meursault lieu-dit Les Casses Têtes is located on the hillside above the premier cru Les Gouttes d'Or and next to Le Tesson. The soils are thin and rocky producing wines of great energy and lift.Green-gold robe. White flowers, honeysuckle, lemon blossom, faint creaminess on the nose with aromas of wet stone, citrus peel and pith following. This is bright and cool-toned aromatically, and not just a bit reticent on opening. The palate is nervy and electric on the attack with a salty mineral cast, followed by flavors of orchard fruit, lemon curd, and hints of green tea on a lean, albeit concentrated mid-palate with a pleasing bit of bitterness on the succulent, rising finish. This is mouth-watering and has a coiled tension that hints at greater complexity to accompany the vibrant, juicy character at the moment. I like the energy and suspect this will put on weight and benefit from short to mid-term aging and beyond. On day 2 the wine has picked up weight and gras with more stone fruit flavors and still more mineral spice notes and layered complexity. The aromatics have taken on more dimension as well with richer fruit, a touch of toast, and a hint of sea spray. There is far more here than meets the eye, so I'd decant if enjoying now or age for a few years to allow the elements to knit. Perhaps not cut from the same cloth as the excellent 2014, but fantastic energy and surprising depth the longer it's open. Paired with pan-roasted scallops, braised leeks, and Sea Island grits. Would likely be a splendid pairing with sautéed flounder and brown butter or poulet à la creme. For lovers of well-priced, pure Burgundies, Lafouge is always worth investigating. John McIlwain
"the 2016 Auxey Villages is a fine bottle in the making offering up a black fruited nose of cassis, black cherries, woodsmoke, a touch of expresso and a fine base of soil tones. On the palate the wine is round, full-bodied and quite suave on the attack, with a good core, modest tannins and fine length and grip on the complex and classy finish. This will want just a few years in the cellar to blossom, and will drink well from early on in its evolution, but will also age nicely." John Gilman The View from the Cellar
The Lafouge Climat du Val is normally the least forward of the three premier crus, and needs a bit more aging to reach it's peak. The 2016 shows lovely aromas of black raspberry, red currant, black cherry, violet and earth. The palate is medium-bodied and intense with firm acidity and dense, very earthy berry fruits, quite mineral, with deep fruit and with a very long finish of ripe berry and saline minerals. 2016 is a vintage of dense, pure fruit, firm acidity and excellent terroir expression and the Climat du Val is a great example - drink now in it's lovely if austere youth, cellar for five years and drink happily until 2035.
La Chapelle is a "climat" in Auxey-Duresses within Les Breterins and Reugne, on the steep slope of la Montagne de Bourdon, facing south/southeast. The vines are well-placed in mid-slope and are mostly sixty years-old, giving the most "generous" of the three Lafouge premier crus. The soils here are partially "marnes blanches"which seems to contribute to the more supple and elegant style of wines from this site. In this vintage of low yields and "classic" structure, the "La Chapelle"is a paticularly serious wine, showing a deep garnet/black color and aromas of tart morello cherry, plum and black raspberry with earth, violet and herbal notes, quite elegant. The palate shows a lovely texture of chalky fruit with dense black raspberry and wild strawberry, licorice and earth, finishing with sappy fruit and saline minerals. Please decant or open well in advance if drinking now, best perhaps 2023 - 2030+. David Lillie
Les Chanlins, a premier cru bordering Volnay, expresses the prettier side of Pommard. A continuation of Volnay Pitures (formerly known as Volnay Chanlins until 2006), the vineyard is steep with more limestone and pebbles rather than clay, producing wines which are typically more generous than backwards. "The 2016 Lafouge Pommard 1er Cru "Les Chanlins" is going to be outstanding, as the bouquet is complex and very pure in its constellation of black Cherries, a touch of plum, bonfire, exspesso, pigeon, a gorgeous base of soil and a topnote of currant leaf. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodoed and very pure on the attack, with a sappy core, great transparencey and a very long, focused and suavely tannic finish. Great juice." John Gilman