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I know less about white burgundy than probably anyone on this board. Yet as I walked down the aisle of a wine store, one I normally don't visit, a bottle caught my eye. The bottle was a:

1991 Olivier Laflaive Puligny-Montrachet

It was $4 for a half bottle. How bad can it be. I think the appelation is good and 1991, although not outstanding, was good according to a chart in the store.

Does anyone know anything about this bottle, producer, region ot year that they would share with me.

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Here's the WS review --

Olivier Leflaive Frères
1991 Puligny-Montrachet
Score: 83
Price: $30

Light and clean Puligny, with delicate apple, hazelnut flavors and a light, rather short finish. Drinkable now. 2,150 cases made.

I guess for $4 it's not much of a gamble, but I think you should spend a little more and get something good. My white burg experience is very limited also, but I've had a couple of really nice ones and there's nothing else quite like it.
The wine that GMT mentioned was '78 Leroy Puligny-Montrachet Champ Gain. Champ Gain is, I think, a premier cru vineyard in the Puligny-Montrachet AOC (someone with more burg expertise please correct me if I'm wrong). Also, '78 was a classic vintage.

I bought some of that wine for $25 on clearance sale. The store, Premier Cru in Northern Cal, was selling it cheap b/c they were having problems with bottle variation. Ordnarily, I think that wine would be more like $80. So far I've opened two of the bottles -- one was off, the other was amazing. From my very limited experience, good aged white burg is in a class by itself.

The Puligny-Montrachet VM found is just the village Puligny, not a premier cru. Also, '91 was (according to WS) a so-so vintage. So, even at its best, that wine is not gonna be great. Moreover, I don't know much about white burgundy, but I don't think these village wines are generally made to last a very long time.

Obviously if it's no good, VM is only out $4 so it's no big thing. But my experience with the Leroy was so great (at least the second bottle) that IMO it's worth spending a little more to see what all the fuss over white burg is about. Maybe not $80, but buy something decent so you don't have a bad first experience.

North Berkeley wine has a pretty good deal going on some white burg right now. Check it out: (follow the link to "Verget 2001 Newsletter")
Top Ten - I would be very interested to hear your comparision between the two bottles of Leroy.

I've opened one of the six I purchased and plan on a 2nd bottle with dinner tomorrow evening, curious to know your impressions. For me, I found the wine to be exhibit a pronounced nutty character.

Like you, I have very little experience with aged white burgs, and I'd be curious to know your impressions of the 'off' bottle contrasted with the amazing bottle.
Eric -- The first bottle was not totally dead or anything. It still had a good amount of acid, and was identifiably wine, but it just lacked flavor. It had a very distinctive nutty, minerally, almost oily character, but not much else. It wasn't totally unpleasant, and we finished the bottle, but it wasn't great either.

The second bottle had that same nutty and minerally character, but it also had very rich and pure fruit (sort of in the pear/apple spectrum), honey, and spice flavors. Because I have such limited experience with white burg, I can't compare it to much, but it was really wonderful wine.

BTW, the first bottle looked better than the second -- better fill, etc. -- so looks can be deceiving.
Vino Moi--I agree with Winetex. Even if you pour it down the sink, you have lost nothing. And who knows?? At least the shop had the decency to mark it down to a fair price.

While not as much as others, I have a bit of experience with aged WB. Within the past year or so, I purchased 7 bottles of a 1992 Dom. Auffray (William Fevre--but not a second label) Les Clos and 3 bottles of 1992 Bachelet Chassagne-Montrachet. Came from the same source--a respected wine retailer in town who discovered a big haul of aged Burgundy in a temp controlled cellar. (I also picked up a few 1990 Ghislane Barthod Bourgogne Rouges and Chambolle Musignys too.)

The one bottle of the Chassagne Montrachet I have cracked (late last year) was still very very fresh. Nice, medium gold color, zippy acidity, with mineral aromas, and mineral on the palate, with bits of ripe pear and even caramel. (How about that, Winetex!!!!) I'm very comfortable that the remaining two will be fine in my cellar for at least a couple of more year, which would put them at 12 years old at that point. I paid $10/ea. so could hardly go wrong. The Les Clos, at $21/ea. has been a bit of a dissapointment. Have cracked four bottles. This is my only experience with aged Grand Cru Chablis, but I don't think this wine has aged as well as Les Clos is supposed to. Muted aromas of matchstick (which is fine--I know that is to be expected in aged Chablis) and bits of buttered popcorn on the taste. But I don;t think the wine is particularly fresh--the color approaches topaz, and while still drinkable, is IMHO, past it's prime. Oh well, win some...lose some.
VM, I have a fair amount of experience w/ young white burgs, but not much w/ older ones. As Top Ten stated, the wine your are talking about is a village Puligny, not a premier cru. I doubt it will be very good, but for $4, give it a go.

Top Ten, that nutty flavor you are noticing might be the beginnings of madeirization. I would drink those bottles sooner rather than later. I had a madierized Puligny from Bzikot '89 that was God-awful. My friend, who cellared the bottle, kept trying to give it a chance. He was distraught. Poor guy. [Frown]

VM, do give white burgs a shot. Look for something from Girardin, Boillot, B. Morey, F& L Pillot, or Drouhin. They are so far from 95% of New World Chards stylistically. IMO, far superior. Only Kistler rivals them.


For what it's worth, I had a '98 Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet recently on vacation - and it was awesome. Here is the tasting note from that thread:

1998 Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Rucelles - The best wine of the week. This is a super-elegant Chardonnay, with lemon cream flavors and perfect acidity and oak. Highly recommended. 94 pts.

Paid $92 in the restaurant for it, so I wouldn't hesitate to try the '91 at the price point you mentioned.


you're on the dot with Champ Gain being a Premier Puligny Montrachet vineyard.
I've had more expirience with Chablis than the oaked style of the Cote d Or. But for 4$ I would happily give it a go. I've went to a tasting of 1999 and 2000 Cru Cote d Or's and they impressed me but for the money. I'm a big fan of Domaine Leflaive however, and right from the Village Bourgogne Blanc through to the top Grand Crus I've never been disappointed, even in more mediocre vintages. One thing to remember is that a half bottle never ages as elegantly as a full bottle.I think it has something to do with wine to air ratio in the neck of the bottle, but I could be wrong. Good luck and look forward to tns.

[ 08-23-2002, 08:30 PM: Message edited by: Jeremy ]
Thanks Ten. Interestingly, the bottle I opened sounds as if was smack in the middle of the two you've described! I'll be sure to post notes on the next one as well.

JB, I'm glad you mentioned madeirization - that was exactly my first thought when tasting it. Certainly anything but unpleasant, and if it is madeirization then I don't believe it's far along, but certainly one to drink up sooner than later.
VM, Oliver Leflaive is one of the very top producers of white Burgundy. The 1991's were poor to mediocre in their youth and went downhill quickly. There is virtually no chance of that wine being anything but bad, but for $4, you don't have much to lose. In fact, you'll get to taste an over-the-hill mediocre Burgundy, which should be educational in its own right.
Jeremy, I believe the wine VM is contemplating is from Olivier LeFlaive, not Domaine Leflaive. Olivier is the cousin of Anne-Claude, who runs Domaine Leflaive. Same family, different wineries. They had a difference of opinion on how the Dom. should be run and had a parting of the ways. Olivier makes very good wines, but Dom. Leflaive, in the opinion of most experts, akes classic white burgundies.


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