Purple Palate Blog

Day 20- Olivier Leflaive, and Maison Harbour 

Interesting day with real highlights and a couple of disappointments.

Travelled to Pulign-Montrachet, to meet Patrick Leflaive, and see what makes a Burgundian Grand Cru.  I have been loving the Premier Cru and wanted to see the difference.

We walked the vineyards at -2 degrees Celsius, and I was stunned at the way the blocks are split.

As a background, the Côte d’Or is split into 2 areas, the northerly Cote du Nuits, and southerly cote du Beaune.  The monks at the time started to identify best plots due to aspect,facing, slope, soils and sun exposure.  Witht he best plots being Grand Cru, and the next best being premier Cru. 
These plots produced best grapes and thus the best wines. 

The monks were removed by the French Revolution and the land given to the villagers nearby, but the appellation was formally approved in 1937.  However no new vineyards or extensions to vineyards could be made (otherwise would just be used for Bourgengogne Blanc, Cote du Burgengogne or Grand vins de Bourgengogne.

Due to the Napoleons laws of inheritance every child gets and equal share of the estates.  This means that vineyards are split down to rows, and very few are ever sold (as they are so expensive).  I literally saw the same vineyard with 100 rows with 35 different owners.  This presents interesting problems of vineyard(see row) management.

Patrick walked through the Cave(cellar) and was a lovely host, as he discussed the winery philosophy and techniques, and how they made Grand Cru.  I excitedly waited to run through a tasting of some of their wines.

We tasted 1 from Cote du Chalonnaise, a Rully Blanc.  While good I really was waiting for at least a Mersault or Montrachet premier Cru, but it was not to be.

Dissapointed we decided top lift our spirits and have lunch at La Cadole for another top experience, and we got another fantastic meal.

Then we drove in the light fluttering a of snow to Maison Harbour, a Garagist winery in Sauvign et Beaune.

We met Nicholas and opened in our stilted French “Bon jour. Jes oui Andrew, Jes oui Australians, Parley virus Anglais?”

“Sure, hi guys” in a North American accent.

Nicholas and his wife, both worked in Luxembourg in finance and fell in love over wine and wanted to involve themselves in the industry.

Now with help from friends, neighbours, and colleagues product Maison Harbour wines.

Sourcing grapes or juice from premium regions via brokers and negotiants (and friends),  he now produces 12000 bottles of wine with 7 Skus .   3 expressions of Chardonnay from Santenay, Chassagne, and Mersault-blagney, and 5 expressions of Pinot noir from, Sauvign-les-Beaune, Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Corton Grand Cru.

I was truely impressed with the wines produced, and with his “garage”setup.

With 4 oak fermenters and 3 stainless steel fermenters, his own bottling line, and his barrel room and wine storage, he has really though about what he wants to achieve, and I believe (after tasting his wines) this is one winery to look out for.

We left in the snow to go a very fancy restaurant and had ordinary service and incredibly overpriced food.  We are just unlucky in the gastronomic world in France.

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