Maison Olivier Leflaive 2009 Barrel Tasting -- A Must for Your Cellar!!

At the Wildman Burgundy Tasting last Friday at the Peninsula Hotel, I had the utmost pleasure to meet Patrick Leflaive, brother of (and co-owner of the wine estate) Olivier Leflaive.  There has been a strong connection with our membership and Olivier Leflaive since before I came to the club, especially with the Puligny-Montrachet Villages which has been one of our more popular White Burgundies from day one.  It is a fantastic, crisp representation of Burgundy, however, an even more popular line from Olivier has peaked our interest at the club: Olivier Leflaive Les Setilles.  With some negotiating, I brought the Setilles to the by-the-glass list, and have seen skyrocketing results for interest in White Burgundy.  Not only is it our most popular glass pour, it is also one of the members' favorites for the home.  Last season alone, we purchased about 50 cases for the house and for our membership.

Patrick Leflaive and the Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet
In meeting Patrick and explaining the fantastic rapport his wines have with our membership, he thanked me for our patronage and described the estate in great detail, and invited me (and everyone else who was there too) to visit the winery.  (Another perk in meeting these amazing people, is that should we travel, we would have places to visit, and hopefully stay!)  I then delved into the 2009 barrel samples of Olivier Leflaive's portfolio.

Olivier Leflaive, Chablis, Les Deux Rives, 2009: Les Deux Rives translates to "The Two Banks" as the grapes for this Chablis are harvested on both sides of the Serein River.  There is an oak and mineral nose with a clean, soft, and slightly oaky palate.  It has good acidity balance with a green apple fruit flavor.  Knowing what I am about to taste with Les Setilles, the Chablis is not as crisp as the Setilles.

Olivier Leflaive, Bourgogne Blanc, Les Setilles, 2009: this amazingly valued wine is a hidden gem... the nose is full of floral notes, with herb and mineral hints.  It slightly has the characteristics of a Sauvignon Blanc nose, but definitely is Chardonnay.  The palate has a slightly sickly-sweet acidity, more so than the '08, and is slightly less crisp, however, since this is a barrel sample and does not have sufficient time in the bottle, the evolution of the wine may develop when it is available.  It is very light bodied, and has citrus flavors wound in an earthy palate.  Very nice, but as of this tasting, I will be buying all of the '08 that I can.  Again, not to say the '09 will not be just as good, if not better when released, but I am having such success with the '08, that I will hold off on the '09 for now.

Olivier Leflaive, Mersault, 2009: wonderful nose of honey and hickory laced white fruits.  The palate is very structured with soft oak on the front, apple and melon in the middle, and a very clean finish.  There are hints of a nutty flavor, perhaps almond.  Very nice.

Olivier Leflaive, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2009: beautiful nose of vanilla, white rose petals, and slight peach.  You will find the palate is brilliant with fresh, crisp, acid and citrus flavors on a well-balanced body.  A step higher in refinement from the Mersault.

Olivier Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet, Villages, 2009: I was very satisfied with the 2009 sample.  My first P-M from Olivier was the 2007, and it was fantastic... as we transitioned into the 2008 vintage, I noticed a decrease in the crisp, citrus enhanced Chardonnay that was the '07.  The '08 was okay, but it did not seduce me like the previous vintage had.  And now we're back with the '09 -- crisp, white fruits on the perfumed nose, and a creamy, bright, clean, well-balanced acid palate with a smooth finish.  Hints of minerals and peach keep my favor for the '09.

Olivier Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Les Folatieres, 2009: an even more refined, full-bodied approach at Puligny-Montrachet is the Les Folatieres, named for the volatile soil that is prone to erosion by loose earth caused from the escape of gases within the terroir.  As with many of the other samples, the nose is exquisite with bright flowers and melon upon a slight oak scent.  On the palate are notes of pear, melon, bright fruits and a sickly-sweet acidity that is both fresh and refreshing.  More refined than the Villages '09, and double the price.

Olivier Leflaive, Corton-Charlemagne, 2009: the king of the White Burgundies at the Leflaive table for the tasting, the Corton-Charlemagne impressed many buyers that day, including myself.  It was fantastic with, by far, the most refined nose of the above, with a complexity of vanilla, wildflower fields, sweet spices, and minerals, all wrapped in a seductive smoke.  The palate was biiiig, with rich, strong substance, apples, pears, and citrus.  Although it is full, it is also elegant, and has an energetic attitude.  It leaves the palate clean and with a lemon zest aftertaste.  It is a beautiful wine and will last for a good number of years, refining the intense profile even more.  Do get out the checkbook for this one... at over $100 wholesale, $200+ in a restaurant, it's totally worth it.

What a fantastic wine estate, and phenomenal experience in sampling the 2009 vintage!  Thank you to Patrick Leflaive, and to Olivier Leflaive for a beautiful portfolio of Burgundian Whites!

Oh, and yes --- side note: with the popularity of Olivier Leflaive at our club, and it being one of my favorite Burgundy estates, Oliver was named after Olivier... you'll often hear me call him Olivier, Monsieur Leflaive, Vier, among his other nicknames... I'm surprised he remembers Oliver as well as he does.  I'm sure when we were in the midst of name-picking our 4 lb puppy, when I shouted "Olivier," Erica's mind skipped the great White Burgundy House, and went straight to the Disney cartoon "Oliver and Company" with the small, orange kitten.  Although, let's face it... at the time he did resemble a small, orange kitten.  And still, at one year old, he's still the size of a small, orange... cat... of which, he can't seem to outgrow our cat; but in his defense, she's not exactly "petite."


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