Dominique Lafon counts 2009 among his favorite white wine vintages, and he considers these wines to be better than the reds from the same year. In contract, in 2010 he prefers the reds to the whites. Lafon believes the short crop in 2010 allowed the wines to retain more elegance than the 2008s. In fact, he also told me that he prefers his 2007 whites to his 2008s "for purity." Like a number of his colleagues, Lafon has been making more use of fining in recent years. "Casein takes out some of the oxidized phenolics," he told me, admitting that his wines from the period in which he did less fining (1996 through 2002) may not be aging as well.
(a blend of old vines and younger vines; finished with its malo and recently sulfured): Pale yellow. Orange zest and a floral note on the nose. Vivacious, integrated acidity gives this wine an attractive sweet/tart aspect. Finishes brisk and long. Excellent potential.
(almost finished with its malolactic fermentation; a blend of 15-, 35- and 55-year-old vines): Pure but reticent aromas of truffle, vanilla and hazelnut, with fruit in the background. The palate is saline and concentrated, with a firm spine of fruity acidity. In a shell today but already harmonious.
I tasted the wine from barrels that had finished their malos. Pale bright yellow. Cool aromas of lemon and lime ice, white flowers, minerals and vanilla cream. Dense and backward, conveying a very strong impression of acidity and energy. Very chewy, sappy Genevrieres with strong potential. (I was unable to rate the Goutte d'Or, as just 1 of 8-1/2 barrels had finished their malos.)
(75% through malo): Ripe, sweet aromas of lemon cream, marzipan and minerals. Big, rich and sweet, but with bright acidity--and no doubt small berry size--contributing to the wine's almost painful intensity. A powerfully structured young Charmes with a near-perfect balance of weight, structure and acidity.
(almost finished with its secondary fermentation; cropped at just 25 hectoliters per hectare, according to Dominique Lafon): Pale bright yellow. Metallic aromas of orange peel, mint and minerals lifted by a floral topnote. At once dense and weightless, with a delicate touch to its tactile flavors of orange peel and dusty stone. Finishes extremely long and vibrant, with reverberating fruits and minerals. Lafon told me he started picking the Thursday following the September 12 storm; other estates waited until the following Monday because they couldn't organize their pickers any earlier.
(just four barrels made; malo finished): Aromas of white peach, lemon, clove oil, iodine and charred, smoky oak. Tactile and palate-saturating, with almost painful intensity to its powerful citrus, stone and mineral flavors. Strong acidity carries the very long finish, which saturates every millimeter of the palate. This has to be one of the longest wines of the vintage at this stage.
(bottled in March of this year): Medium straw-yellow. Complex nose melds stone fruits, flowers, honey and hazelnut. Lush and sweet in the mouth, with a perfumed orange blossom quality giving the wine a light touch. Finishes suave, harmonious and persistent. Lovely village wine
From a tank sample taken just prior to the fining: Bright, pale yellow-green. Grapefruit and lemon ice on the nose, plus a whiff of white truffle. Edgy lemony acidity gives shape to the palate and carries the finish. A second sample, taken after the fining: Bright pale yellow. Subtly perfumed nose hints at lemon ice. Juicy and pure but a bit sharper than the first sample, showing excellent precision to the lemon zest flavors. A very site-driven sample that finishes with a salty nuance and noteworthy cut and length. I like what the fining has accomplished.
Sample taken before fining: Pale straw-yellow. Deeply pitched aromas of ripe peach and honey. Chewy and sweet but restrained on the palate, with excellent density and energy to the zippy stone fruit flavors. Finishes dry and classic, with palate-coating persistence. The same wine after the fining: Restrained, pure aromas of white flowers and clove. Lush, rich and seamless, with harmonious acidity contributing to the wine's smooth impression. More refined than the first sample (no surprise!) but not showing quite as much energy today.
(bottled in March): Pale color. Aromas of lime peel and crushed stone. Quite elegant and delicate for Genevrieres in this vintage, offering a light touch to its subtle, perfumed citrus, stone and floral flavors. Quite fine-grained. This is showy now but I would not be at all surprised if it shut down in bottle for a few years. It should age well, though.
(bottled ten days before my visit): Very closed, slightly reduced nose offers citrus fruits, vanilla, hazelnut and white truffle. Rich, sweet, pliant and deep; this has the weight and depth of the biggest California chardonnays but more energy and finesse than all but the very finest of them. Strong extract here contributes to an impression of increasing freshness. Really saturates the mouth and reverberates on the round, dry finish.
(bottled ten days before my visit): Pale color. High-pitched aromas of crushed stone, iodine and orange blossom. Juicy, dense and tightly wound, conveying a sappy impression of energy and an explosive minerality to buffer its flesh. Nicely combines the elegance of the Genevrieres with the weight of the Charmes. Like a mouthful of liquid stone. An outperformer in 2009.
(bottled in March): Greenish yellow. Musky aromas of clove, pineapple and smoky, vanillin oak. Large-scaled, rich and sweet if youthfully closed; with so much baby fat today, the middle palate comes across as less chiseled than that of the Perrieres, which is sexier today. Turns a bit leaner on the end, finishing with terrific grip and tension. This will require considerable patience so that it can find its balance in the bottle. Lafon still ages this wine in all new oak (the Perrieres gets 40% to 50%) but told me he may cut back the percentage of new barrels soon.