2017 Domaine Lafouge Bourgogne Pinot Noir Cote d’Or
There is a good reason this wine with a humble title tastes amazingly great. This is spectacular Pinot Noir, a bit hidden behind its own label. What it means for us is some great drinking from a hidden gem in Burgundy.
While Burgundy produces some of the world’s greatest wines, it can be confusing and it certainly is complex. But for all its complexity, it sums down to one golden rule – the place matters most. And that rule comes with a simple corollary – the more specific the place, the higher the quality of wine.
Now, just when we’ve simplified all down for you into specific place = greatest quality, the Burgundians have gone and changed the rules – they’ve added another place. They carved out a new region inside an old one. Here’s how it works:
While we think of Burgundy as being tiny, if you include it all from Beaujolais to Chablis, it actually gets much bigger. And for many producers (leaving them unnamed) who are making cheap Burgundy, they exploit this fact by labeling their wines “Bourgogne Pinot Noir.” This Pinot Noir can come from almost anywhere – Beaujolais, Maconnais, heck, even the hinterland beyond the Haut Cotes. This type of “Bourgogne” is truly generic and works great if you’re a big guy producing bulk Burgundy.
Now about 10 years ago, small producers started to complain. The complaint is easy to understand. If you’re a small farmer entirely based in the high-rent district of the Cote d’Or, your Pinot ends up being shelved with all the bulk stuff, even though it doesn’t taste like the bulk stuff and certainly isn’t made like it either. What small producers asked for, and got, was a carved out, new appellation – Bourgogne Cote d’Or. Simply put, Pinot Noir that is entirely from that high-rent district of Grand Crus called the Golden Slope (or Cote d’Or in French).
Lafouge is one such producer. His Pinot come entirely from the Premier Crus of the village of Auxey Duresses, and this wine is gobsmackingly delicious Pinot Noir:
The nose opens with the heaven-sent aromas of Pinot Noir: cola, mulled black cherries, cassis, woodsmoke, scone spices, plums, and rose petals all waft from the glass in this ever-changing, multifaceted wine. The palate is full and rounded yet with great lift and energy. To me it is the perfect expression of Bourgogne Pinot Noir – all the ripe mid-palate fruit that you need for sheer hedonistic enjoyment, yet with the seamless line of vibrancy that keeps one coming back for more. The finish is supple, velvety and smooth. It drinks great now (I’m already on my fifth bottle!), yet I am positive that this one can go for a decade or more in your cellar. Or as none other than Robert Parker published, “These wines age beautifully, I can personally testify, having enjoyed a lovely 1969 last summer.”
While Bob and I don’t often agree on wines, on this producer, we do agree. Here is how he summarizes his report on Domaine Lafouge: “It numbers among my favorite insider domaines in Burgundy.”
Insider indeed. I am thrilled that we were able to bring Domaine Lafouge to Wisconsin this year. We got a small allocation of this superb wine and we got it before the Trump tariffs hit. Buy it now, because soon it’s going to be much, much, much more expensive.