Do you believe in destiny?
It is a difficult question to be sure. It’s existential, spiritual, scientific, and so much more. I’m not sure there is a right answer, and I’m not sure how one would prove it if there were. We must each search our souls and find our own answer, but every once in a while, the universe reaches out and creates a moment that is so sublime you can’t help but wonder, was this destiny?
Today I had one of those stellar moments as the grand architecture brought me and a bottle of Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Clavoillon 2014 together, and it was singing.
It sang its song of legacy so bright and clear and loud that I felt as if those grapes, on that vine, that year, were grown only for me, for my pleasure, for this moment and none other. To think that this wine was bottled, traveled across the Atlantic, sat in this cellar for years, patiently waiting, biding its time until that exalted moment that is both it’s liberation and death, just to speak to me.
I sat transfixed, as the interactions around me faded away, and my enamored senses explored a language of flavor and scents; a true conversation with me posing questions and it slowing down, like a blurred image coming into focus, to explain in liquid detail the subtleties and nuances of fruit and soil- of texture and flavor.
It opened with flinty salinity, like a lightly smoked Maldon sea salt, lifted by citrus blossoms and spritz of squeezed orange peel. Flavors of fresh Bosc pear, golden apple, Meyer lemon, and white peach nectar quickly followed. The wine had put on weight and truly come of age in the six years since its harvest, with a roundness and texture of roasted almonds, lightly toasted brioche, and bee’s wax, which helped frame its power and depth. All of this was supported by a broad and resolute foundation of flint and chalky minerality that served as a testament to the pedigree of this vineyard and this Domaine.
There is a saying: Ask any wine lover what the ten best bottles they’ve ever drank are, and maybe 2 or 3 of them will be Burgundy. Ask them what their ten biggest heartbreaks have been, and 9 or 10 of them will be Burgundy. Needless to say, this bottle could be easily added to my ten best bottles and, while not the most expensive or rarest bottle I’ve enjoyed, it was one that was ready for me OR should I say that it was I, an unsuspecting benefactor, who happened to be in the right place at the right time and was willing to release control and not dictate what the wine should be or do but, instead, let it share with me its treasures, take me on a journey to its soils, speak to me about the vintage and about the farming, and to know, unequivocally, that this wine was a wine that could only be made in a singular place, in a singular moment and had, just a like a well-known friend, a very distinct and affable personality.
As I sipped from my fine Burgundy shaped crystal glass savoring each passing second, it wasn’t until the end, after the last drop had been poured from the bottle into the glass, that I began to lament. To acknowledge that those were the last moments that I would spend with this wine and that after I indulged in that last swirl, sip, savor and swallow that there was no recourse after that. There was a finality in understanding that the simple solution of ordering another bottle of the same would not replace the revelry, reflection, and rapport that a true wine of place like this, perfectly aged, had produced.
Was it destiny? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, it was a singular experience of opportunity, place, and time. One could say that how you spend your moments is how you spend your life, and I, for one, hope that there are many more of these moments out there waiting in the ordinary, waiting to be discovered and are waiting… for you.
A bit about Domaine Leflaive: One of the best white wine Domaines in all of France, its vineyard holdings are based primarily in Puligny-Montrachet with some more recent acquisitions in the Maconnais. The family traces its roots back to the early 1700s to Claude Leflaive. Still, the Domaine in its present form results from Joseph Leflaive’s land purchases, readily available after the devastation of phylloxera, between 1910 and 1930. The Domaine has been passed down the generations of the family and is currently run by the 4th generation, the great-grandson of Claude: Brice de la Morandière. It was the 3rd generation’s Anne-Claude Leflaive who, in a bold move, converted all winemaking at the estate to biodynamics in the 90s, to some controversy, but as they say the proof has been in the pudding and the results have been nothing short of spectacular! She helped propel the estate from one of the best estates in Burgundy to international renown as one of the greatest white wine producers, period.
2014 was a fantastic vintage for Puligny-Montrachet, even more so for Domaine Leflaive, but sadly, it was Anne-Claude’s last as she passed away in April of 2015. One of the greatest gifts of wine is the ability to transport us instantly into the past, conjure up old feelings, and continue unfinished stories, and perhaps that is why this particular wine had so much to say.
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