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Lafarge began working alongside his father Henri in 1946 and, now in his mid-80s, continues to do so with his son Frédéric today. And his vast experience and deep, traditionally-oriented farming and winemaking wisdom are what enable him to capture the essence of his Volnay terroirs and the vintage with astonishing consistency.
The Lafarge family has been making wine in Volnay since before the French Revolution, and what Michel and Frédéric do today is informed by the collective wisdom passed down through many generations of Lafarge.
Everything father and son do, therefore, is based on experience and a deep respect for tradition, rather than in following trends. As Michel told The Great Domaines of Burgundy author Remington Norman, “The only way of improving quality is to review what has been done and achieved before.”
For Lafarge, this means everything from using only sélection massale cuttings for replanting to a very minimal use of new oak for aging. As with his fellow Volnaysien Marquis D’Angerville’s wines, Michel and Frédéric allow the wine to essentially “make itself.”
The fruit is picked at ideal ripeness, destemmed, given a long, cool fermentation with the native yeasts, and all handling of the wine, including extraction and movement is gentle to preserve its quintessential Volnay delicacy. As Michel told Remington Norman, “Every pump is bad.”
The results are stunningly pure Volnays of haunting perfume, underpinned by the firm structure for extended aging. They are quintessential examples of the Burgundian model of intensity without heaviness, deceptively long-lived for their exhilarating elegance.
Lafarge’s range of begins with the Volnay villages; selected from nine parcels of old vines throughout the village, it is a beautifully balanced expression of the appellation’s inherent strength allied with grace. The second A.O.C. wine , the Volnay Vendanges Selectionées comes from a plot in the village’s heart near the premier crus, which gives it its greater depth and intensity.
The Clos-du-Château-des-Ducs 1er cru—a Lafarge monopole—is a half-hectare enclosed parcel of forty-year-old vines in red soils over gravel, producing a perfumed Volnay of great finesse. Lastly, there is the tête de cuvée, the great Lafarge Clos des Chênes. From half-century vines in this hallowed premier cru on Volnay’s upper slope, it is a complete wine, with a perfect balance of Volnay elegance within the firm structure for decades of graceful development.
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