Robert Parker – 89-91
The 2013 Volnay 1er Cru les Mitans has a strict, focused bouquet with a slight metallic note infusing the red cherry and strawberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, smooth and harmonious in the mouth, quite fleshy, although missing just a little complexity toward the finish. This will be one of Lafarge’s more approachable 2013s and seems a step down from the superlative Volnay les Caillerets or Vendange Selectionee. I always look forward to my visit to Michel Lafarge in the maze-like alleys of Volnay. In many ways it encapsulates Burgundy: small domaine, choice parcels, great history, a loyal following, dank and claustrophobic vaulted cellars thickly smothered with white mold like something out of a 1974 episode of Dr. Who, a bit disheveled in appearance…untidy perhaps, charismatic bordering upon legendary patriarch and wines so exquisite that they make you want to quit and just go home with that sweet nectar tingling in your mouth. Michel Lafarge himself greeted me at the domaine. He must be over 80years old now but he was still happy to discuss the vintage until his son Frédéric came along (doubtlessly delayed by what must be Burgundy’s slowest elevator.) Frédéric absolutely loves 2013 and described how it was a long growing season after a humid and wet spring, one where the grapes reached phenolic ripeness at low sugar levels. “We picked from 3 until 9 October,” he explained. “The last time that we had picked in October was in 1980. It is difficult to compare with other vintages. There is ‘big’ purity and it is easy to see the terroir of each of the vineyards. There was little botrytis. We chaptalized by around 0.5 degrees alcohol and the reds finished their malolactic between April and May, the whites by July and then we racked at the end of August.” The bad news of Lafarge fans is that there is just…wait for it…35% of the normal harvest. Yikes. If it is of any consolation a) the wines are so pure and elegant that you feel as if you are peering into the very vines, wines that leave you with a Cheshire cat grin perhaps with the exception of the underpar (on the day) Volnay Mitans ’13 and b) the family has just acquired 2.5-hectares in Fleurie, which I look forward to tasting next year.
Anticipated maturity: 2016-2024
Vinous – 89-92
Medium red. Lovely high-pitched floral perfume to the aromas of sherry, redcurrant and spices. Round and sweet in the mid-palate, with ripe, spicy red fruit flavors lifted by a mineral element. Boasts lovely ripeness and harmonious tannins, finishing with enticing lingering perfume.
Anticipated maturity: 2022-2031