Lafarge – “One of the trinity of supreme Volnay producers”

Most of my closest clients and certainly my friends are well aware that I began in the Burgundy business as a lad. It was in 1984 that I experienced my first round of professional Burgundy tastings and within those first moments in time were the wines imported by Becky Wasserman. I had casually tasted wines from Burgundy previous to that time, but it would be that inaugural meeting with Wasserman that would set my palate on its course. So incredibly amazed by those wines was I that I found myself, as I do to this very day, using those wines as a guide stick by which all other Burgundies are measured.

One such estate in that tasting was the Domaine Lafarge. Mr. Lafarge himself was present; silent, but present. His brooding demeanor, straight white hair and striking blue eyes immediately announced that you were in the presence of a man of very few words. This was a man of great intensity, serious about his family’s work. His grand-father and father before him were the Mayor of his wine village of Volnay and now the current Lafarge, too, held this revered title. This man is serious about Volnay, and it shows. He answers your questions quickly and directly, and his wines are considered the best in this hallowed village.

From his parcels within Volnay we have some of the very oldest vineyards planted in the entire Cote de Beaune. Michel Lafarge’s family began as laborers in the 1800s and first acquired a piece of their own land in 1855. From that first planting, the Lafarge family acquired additional plots throughout the village in 1900, to be followed by Beaune vineyards in the 1950s. While the vineyard plots have been replanted over time, since the mid-1960s, when Michel’s father died, the Domaine has focused greatly on preserving the oldest vines as possible. In fact, the wine this estate labels as Vendanges Selectionnees is produced from vines planted in the 1940s.

I could go on and on about this estate, and if you ever engage me over an opened bottle from Michel, I will. But today, to keep things moving along, I’d like to share with all of you the words from the “experts” out there:

from Cote D’Or, A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy by Clive Coats, M.W.:

     “For an example of the finest red Burgundy that is fragrant and feminine, yet intense and long lasting, you need look no further than the wines of Domaine Michel Lafarge. Lafarge and his ancestors have been making wine in the village since at least the French Revolution, almost certainly earlier. Lafarge and his Father and Grandfather have been mayors of the village and Henri Lafarge, Michel’s Father, was additionally regisseur of the Hospices de Beaune. So there is a sense of family tradition and communal responsibility here….Lafarge is part of the continuing history of Volnay, a history which has had the production of fine Burgundy as its raison d’etre since the Middle Ages.”
     — Clive Coates, MW

from Burgundy, A Comprehensive Guide…by Robert Parker:

     “Michel Lafarge, a modest and intelligent man, makes it a point to taste not only his neighbor’s wines, but also as many of the wines of the world as possible. He can produce some of the most stylish, finesse-filled wines of the entire village of Volnay….His top wines are his gorgeous Volnay Clos des Chenes, Beaune les Greves, and Volnay Clos du Chateau des Ducs.”
     — Robert Parker

from Making Sense of Burgundy by Matt Kramer:

     “One of the trinity of supreme Volnay producers, along with d’Angerville and Pousse d’Or. Wonderfully rich, intense wines of a style equal to, but different from, either Pousse d’Or or d’Angerville. Compare Lafarge’s Clos de Chateau des Ducs with d’Angerville’s Clos des Ducs and you’ll see it instantly. The structure of one is heavily timbered, the other is spiderweb-gossamer. Both are awe-inspiring. The Lafarge Clos des Chenes is about as good as this vineyard gets; also there is superb commune-level Volnay.”
     — Matt Kramer

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All the best!
Christopher Massie
Diplome D’Honneur de Sommeliere