Domaines Leflaive, Mâcon-Verzé (Burgundy, France) 2006 ($31, Wilson Daniels Ltd.): You might already know that the illustrious Domaine Leflaive winery in Puligny-Montrachet, in Burgundy's famed Côte d'Or district, now makes a wine from the Mâconnais district, about two-hours' drive south. Or maybe, like me, you heard that, and you even tasted the wine, and then (the Information Age being so impossibly full of information!) you forgot. In that case, I am happy to remind you, because the result of Anne-Claude Leflaive's venture to the south is a delicious, high quality and pedigreed white Burgundy that's actually affordable enough to drink more often than just on special occasions.
This wine comes from a 23-acre vineyard in the Mâcon-Verzé area, within the larger Mâcon-Villages AOC zone. Domaine Leflaive purchased this property-- actually a group of five vineyard parcels--almost five years ago. The previous owners, an elderly couple, reportedly had taken great care of their vineyards, but had sold their grapes to the local co-op rather than making wine. Their careful maintenance of the vineyards made the property attractive to its buyer, and Domain Leflaive's reputation for scrupulous biodynamic viticulture in turn made the deal attractive to the sellers.
Of course, French wine laws can sometimes turn simple transactions into complicated situations. Because the new vineyard is more than 34 miles from the Domaine Leflaive winery, its grapes could not legally be brought to that winery for pressing. The solution was to create a middleman negociant company, Domaines Leflaive, to purchase the grapes and sell the grape must to Domaine Leflaive. That is why 'Domaines Leflaive' appears on the label as the producer of the wine.
This 2006 is the third vintage of Leflaive's Mâcon-Verzé. This wine is very refined for a Mâcon, with none of the rusticity that textbooks tell you to expect in Mâcons. Typical of Mâcon, the wine does have definite mineral notes, more so in the flavor than in the aroma. But its texture is rich and almost creamy, and it fills the mouth with softness, with none of the edges that you typically find in Mâcon wines. Its aromas and flavors are so finessed--apple, honey, spice and a delicate floral perfume on the nose, and ripe apple, smoke, mineral and a bit of butter in the mouth--that, tasting blind, you might wonder if this is a lesser Côte d'Or Burgundy. But like most Mâcon wines, this wine fermented in tanks rather than in barrels. Structurally, it has high alcohol (tasting higher than the 13% indicated on the label) and fairly high acidity that gives depth to the wine but does not undercut the creamy texture.
What this wine seems to represent is a fusion of biodynamic viticulture applied to Mâcon grapes, and great Côte d'Or winemaking sensitivity. It is perfectly enjoyable now and should remain so for the next few years.