This July's tasting with Dominique at Comte Lafon brought as much anticipation as any visit I've had to date. As the two of us descended into the cellar it became clear I was about to begin the most comprehensive master class on white Burgundy imaginable. While Lafon's reds may still be the most under-appreciated Pinot Noirs of the Côte de Beaune, his whites from an array of parcels in Meursault and the Macon are simply the gold standard.
Today, I'm happy to offer the wine that embodies Macon's ability turn out razor-precise Chardonnay, still founded upon the same regal structure that makes Lafon's Meursault so enviable. Of course, with pricing that's much more palatable.
At $41 per bottle, and down to $38.50 on 4-packs, the 2016 Heritières du Comte Lafon Viré-Clessé has it all. And, the 2016 vintage captures the most crystalline aspects of this benchmark wine from the appellation always known for its peerless grace and complexity.
The visit with Dominique brought a tremendous amount of new understanding on how terroir shifts dramatically through each of the Meursault parcels. Concluding the visit with a barrel sample of the 2017 Montrachet was an experience that I ensured would be laser-stitched into my sense memory forever. Standing out for its unbelievable density and staining palate presence, still seemingly void of any weight whatsoever. In case the argument should arise in the future on the greatest white vineyard on earth, this glass only confirms earlier conclusions: there is no debate to be had.
However, with price tags and quantities always so very small, I don't have Lafon Montrachet on my radar for personal drinking. The real surprise from the cellar was just how floored I was by both the 2016 and 2017 Meursault Genevrières. Sure, Perrières is widely regarded as the villages greatest vineyard, but at chez Lafon the former is the wine I kept thinking about as I drove to lunch in a bit of a punch drunk daze from the epic visit. (I was spitting. OK, not the Montrachet).
Lafon's lineup from the Macon sees the same organic and biodynamic viticulture approach as his Meursault vines. The distinction between the two in the cellar comes down to aging, with Macon's more luscious fruit finding the tension they needs through aging in larger formats giving less oxygen exchange. Bottling also takes place well before the Meursault cuvées, again to preserve the snap and precision that works so well in this warmer, more southern appellation.
Tasting Chardonnay from one of the all-time masters is always a special occasion. And while Lafon's entirety of production from the Macon is terrific and well worth your attention, the 2016 Viré-Clessé is simply in a league of its own. Do not miss it.
2016 Heritières du Comte Lafon Viré-Clessé
$41 per bottle.