Domaine Michel Lafarge Bourgogne Passetoutgrains Anthologie 2018
Domaine Michel Lafarge is one of the great producers of the wines of Burgundy, based in the Volnay appellation. The domaine is small, owning just under 25 acres of vines, and producing only about 4,000 cases annually, but the wines are models of their genres. The family has been cultivating grapes in Volnay since the early 19th Century and possibly back to the late 18th Century. Very gradually did the Lafarges accumulate, piece by piece, the portions of vineyards that comprise their domaine; these include Volnay Clos des Chênes and the wholly owned Clos du Chateau des Ducs, Beaune Grêves, Pommard Pezerolles (all Premier Cru) and parcels of Volnay village and Premier Cru, as well as Bourgogne Aligoté and Bourgogne Passetoutgrain and a village Meursault.
Lafarge was a pioneer in bottling its own wine, rather than selling the wine to a negociant, beginning with the harvest of 1934. The wines see only about 25 percent new oak, typically aging for 15 to 20 months, depending on the vintage and the vineyard. The entire domaine has been farmed on biodynamic principles since 1997-2000.
This bottling is named 'Anthologie', made of the Passetoutgrain grape, from 90 year old vines. The 2018 was also made as an hommage to the winemaker's late grandfather, Michel Lafarge. 12.5% alcohol. The wines produced under this appellation are ready to drink nearly as soon as they’re bottled and many winemakers still keep back a good portion of their production to drink with family and friends. In fact, that these wines have made it to the U.S. at all is thanks to a number of devoted importers, including Kermit Lynch, Becky Wasserman and Neal Rosenthal, who have been similarly charmed by how easy they are to love.
The name 'Passetoutgrains, which loosely means, “throw it all in,” is a nod to the heritage of these wines as field blends, in which Gamay and Pinot Noir have historically been co-planted in vineyards in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, and then co-fermented. That’s changed somewhat over the years, with many winemakers today sourcing the grapes separately, from different parcels. But as prices for both red and white Burgundy continue to escalate, Passetoutgrain, which by law is composed of at least one-third Pinot Noir and no more than two-thirds Gamay, is becoming ever more obscure. And it’s the Gamay that’s the problem—growing it on land that’s prime for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay just doesn’t make all that much fiscal sense.
Today, Gamay constitutes a mere 2.5 percent of the plantings in Burgundy (outside of Beaujolais, of course), and that number is shrinking. Fanny Sabre, a young producer in the Côte de Beaune, made outstanding Passetoutgrain, but pulled out her old, low-yield, co-planted vines in Volnay to plant Pinot Noir after the 2011 vintage; Digloia and Meo Camuzet followed suit in 2015. This is the trend. As a result, the production of Passetoutgrain has drastically decreased: the five-year average production from 2007 to 2011 was 740,000 gallons; from 2012 to 2016, it was just 340,000 gallons.
Despite the small quantities, more than 80 producers still make a Passetoutgrain across Burgundy. And, while on paper the bulk of Burgundy’s Gamay is planted in the Mâcon—at the warm, southern end of the Côte d’Or—some of the best producers have theirs in lauded parts of both the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. Many of these producers are also working with vines that have been around for generations (at Domaine Michel Lafarge, for example, the vines for the Bourgogne Passetoutgrain were planted in 1926) for reasons that have more to do with a loyalty to these wines than with profit.
|Region||France, Burgundy, Bourgogne|
|Brand||Domaine Michel Lafarge|
Wine AdvocateSince the Lafarge family's parcel of Passetoutgrain was planted the year that paterfamilias Michel Lafarge was born, they decided to produce a special cuvée, the 2018 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain Cuvée Anthologie, to celebrate Michel's 90th birthday. Taking only fruit of vines from the original planting and from the upper part of the parcel, the grapes were destemmed by hand, and they produced enough wine to fill one 300-liter barrel and one 600-liter foudre. Unwinding in the glass with complex aromas of sweet red berries, peonies and rich soil tones, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and and succulent, with lively acids, powdery structuring tannins and a long finish. Any of the ensuing large-format bottles will be well worth tracking down.
VinousThe 2018 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain "Anthologie" is actually not the confirmed name at the time of this writing, but it is a special one-off cuvée that comes from 90-year-old vines. It boasts a very pure raspberry and wild strawberry bouquet mixed with rose petals, much more Pinot than Gamay. The palate is medium-bodied with raspberry and cranberry fruit. Nicely proportioned and structured on the finish. This will be bottled mainly in larger formats.