I am no Burgundy expert, but I know enough to know that the Domaine Lafarge Clos du Château des Ducs Volnay 1er Cru is one of the top handful of wines from the Côte de Beaune, which places it in rarified territory indeed. I have been lucky enough to visit the domaine a couple of times. First down into the ancient cellar – drawing samples from barrels, shivering from the damp, warming the tasting glass with the palms to coax delicate aromas, ancient bottles resting peacefully under thickening black mold.
Then outside into the bright sun and just behind the cellar, hemmed in from above by the village of Volnay, sits the domaine’s prized monopole vineyard, the Clos du Château des Ducs. Neat rows of sparse-yielding stumpy old pinot noir vines, insect control by free range chickens. Wonderful. There is no place like Burgundy.
I took recent delivery of a few precious bottles and had to open a mini-vertical.
2005 Domaine Michel Lafarge Clos du Château des Ducs Volnay 1er Cru. Definitely the darkest and most opaque of the flight. Dark fruit, brambly, not billowing from the glass. But great floral lift in the mouth. Riper and rounder than the others, a meaty note. Fine tannins, heavier still than the younger wines.
2013 Domaine Michel Lafarge Clos du Château des Ducs Volnay 1er Cru. More fragrant than the 2014, nice red fruit. And more masculine on the palate, tighter, bit creamy texture shaped by barrique. Less overtly fruity today than the 2014 and I’m not sure it’s as long.
2014 Domaine Michel Lafarge Clos du Château des Ducs Volnay 1er Cru. The lightest and clearest of the three. The nose here more herby than the 2013, silky red fruit and bright acidity on the palate. Open and quite a friendly wine today.
They are lovely wines, and it’s always a joy to taste what comes from what one has seen. But if I am candid, having experienced the romance of the domaine tints my objectivity toward what’s in the glass. Even at favourable ex-cellar prices, these are not inexpensive wines and for what they cost I would like a bit more wow. That’s Burgundy I guess – supply and demand at work and not a soul to blame for it. But it’s good not to be addicted to these. People who love them but face financial ruin as a consequence should take a look at Barbaresco and mountain nebbiolo, which may push some of the same buttons for fewer shekels.