Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru – 2011 – Best of the Best 2015 – Robb Report
“Simply making a wine requires an individual effort; consistently producing truly great wines, however, often demands generations of endeavor. The Leflaive family, who render some of the world’s most brilliant expressions of Chardonnay, have reaped the rewards of the patience and care practiced by Anne-Claude Leflaive, who managed the domaine from 1990 until her untimely passing this April at age 59, after a prolonged battle with cancer. Regarded by her peers as the grande dame of the Côte de Beaune, Anne-Claude not only honored and preserved her family’s remarkable heritage, but also challenged the timeworn methods of this hidebound region, becoming an early and vocal exponent of biodynamic farming. Under her leadership, Domaine Leflaive spearheaded the biodynamic movement in Burgundy, which eventually attracted some of the region’s most prestigious producers, including Domaine Dujac and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
“The Leflaives have held a prominent position in Burgundy since the early 18th century, when Claude Leflaive acquired property in the commune of Puligny-Montrachet—property that today remains in the domaine’s possession. Claude’s descendants maintained the vineyards he purchased into the 20th century, when Anne-Claude’s grandfather Joseph, an esteemed maritime engineer, returned to his home to manage the family’s holdings in the wake of a devastating phylloxera infestation. After replanting his vines on disease-resistant rootstock, Joseph made the momentous decision to vinify and sell wine under his own name, rather than continue to turn his harvest over to négociants.
“Almost five decades later, his two sons, Vincent and Joseph-Régis, assumed responsibility for the burgeoning business, and under their aegis, the domaine’s profits and prestige increased. On Vincent’s retirement in 1990, his daughter Anne-Claude took charge.
“Appalled by postwar reliance on pesticides to protect the vines, Anne-Claude began to explore organic alternatives. After some experimentation, she determined that biodynamically cultivated vines yield superior fruit, and gradually she converted all of the domaine’s vineyards—including its grand-cru holdings in Le Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, and Chevalier-Montrachet—to a holistic system of management. The wisdom of her decision is apparent in the succession of seamless, superlative vintages that the domaine released during her tenure. One of the more recent and exceptional examples is the 2011 Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, a refined and graceful white whose serene bouquet of lime blossom and honeysuckle conceals powerful undercurrents of hazelnut, lime zest, and slate. Its richness, which emerges only gradually, is countered on the lengthy finish by steely acidity. The purity, depth, and brightness of this grand cru will continue to pay tribute for decades to come to the spirit of the grande dame who made it possible.”