Lafon’s basic red wine! A chance to taste Lafon’s stylish red wines for a fraction of what the Volnays go for – cannot go wrong, right? Especially in 2009 there should be a mass of ripe fruit to deal with and it should be totally delicious, right?
Wrong! I am sure you are aware of the idea that one cannot smell acidity. This may be true, but I am becoming ever more convinced one can smell compounds associated with acidity.
I cannot count the number of times I have stuck my nose into a German Riesling or Burgundy from a miserable vintage and thought it was going to be (Swedish construction) shit-acidic. I cannot think of an occasion where I have been wrong. Now you have been warned, onto the note!
Monthelie Premier Cru Les Duresses 2009, Domaine Comte Lafon
The nose has a lot of really pretty, ripe fruit; you would expect this from a 2009. In this respect it smells like a dream Bourgogne Rouge.
However, it has that slightly green, slightly grassy, slightly leafy aroma of unripeness that screams out, “I am going to burn a hole through your stomach!”.
And bloody hell it nearly did. Sure, there was a lot of nice ripe fruit, but the acid level was totally intolerable and unacceptable in what is a £40 wine.
Not only is it shit-acidic but it also has no structure to speak of. There is just fruit and bitch-loads of acidity. Given my rich and broad experience with Lafon wines I am surprised to find that it is not shit-tannic, but the fucker is simply a bottle of hydrochloric acid with some strawberries in it.
This is just bloody awful. The amazing thing is it is a 2009, one of the ripest vintages ever. If they could not bake the searing acidity out of it in 2009 I hate to think what people who purchased 2011s are thinking when they pop theirs. Probably that lighting a fire with £50 notes would have been a more profitable use of their cash.
This is insulting to customers who pay over the odds for the Lafon name only to get fruity acid with no tannin. It might have been a pleasant quaffing wine if the acidity had been cold-stabilised out of it. But as it stands, this is complete crap and is the final nail in the coffin of my desire to acquire Lafon reds.
Just throw your bottles at someone you really hate, or sell them to an idiot, that is the only pleasure you will get out of this wine.
That’s it! I am giving up accruing Comte Lafon reds (although most have been stolen anyway)! The ‘good’ ones exist in a state of absolute zero-esque unchangingly tough permanence; they do not so much age as persist being hard, miserable and joyless. A 1993 Volnay-Santenots-du-Millieu I had relatively recently clearly demonstrated this. His slightly less ludicrously expensive, but still expensive, ones such as this are just shit. Utter shit. Well he can take other people’s piss with the prices he charges, I’m not lining his pockets anymore.
We couldn’t even finish the bottle. I wouldn’t drink this, even under duress.
So David, be honest, did you like it?
Knowing that you are bonkers enough to like the stuff, Richard, when we next meet I will be opening a Lafon Volnay Champans 2009 – the last bottle of Lafon red I will ever own. It should be light years better than this bottle of piss-infused vomit. We greatly look forward to seeing you in April! You know I am having my arm operated on the next day? 😉
I’m glad you are getting some treatment for your arm. What are they doing to you?
I happen to have a single bottle of the Lafon Champans from 1999. I had one last year, and of course it’s nowhere near mature. It’s sort of good but not that enjoyable if you know what I mean. Then again maybe it will be amazing in 2039… I’m assuming you don’t want to drink it alongside the 09?
Ooh I’ll tell you what I’ve just got that you might enjoy: some Montille Rugiens 06. Would you like me to bring this for you?
Forty quid. Blimey. Although it will probably sort itself out eventually.
Lafon’s reds are certainly an extremely longterm proposition and I am sympathetic to the argument that it is not worth the bother. The 89 Santenots Du Milieu is very lovely, though.
I think it’s perfectly possible to smell acidity, in just the same way as it is to smell salt in food.
Tom, I don’t think it would improve as it has no tannin. It is just like fresh fruit juice with no extraction. The huge amount of acidity would take a terribly long time in a very cold cellar or come around. And forty bloody quid? For a Monthille? You’ve got to be kidding!
Richard, de Montille any time is a joy, but dealer’s choice, natch!
I totally agree that £40 for Monthelie is ludicrous.
I am not totally convinced that we can always predict the future of red burgundy by present indicators. I can’t, anyway.
Fair comment, Tom, they are difficult mistresses. It is worth having a go, or at least learning from previous experience, I feel. It is true that a lot of wines panned by critics on release have a lovely ageing profile. I think most quality 2007s are just delicious right now, and I’ve also had the odd 1997 recently which has been perfectly lovely. Difficult, oft impenetrable, mistresses…
Richard, a rather objectionable surgeon will slice open my right elbow and release the pressure from whatever is trapping my ulna nerve. After that he tells me the nerve will improve and start working again at the rate of 1mm/week. So by Christmas it shouldn’t be bleeding painful to type!
I have just discovered your note on this wine and indeed, just discovered your site as a whole. I have to say I completely agree with you on the Lafon Monthelie. I purchased a case, yes a case, of the 1999 which is not completely dissimilar to ’09 in its ripe-fruited character. Only 4 bottles were passable, the rest lean, mean and searingly acidic.
Like you I vowed to never purchase a red Lafon again. A tenet to which I have avidly stuck.
Sorry, Fraser, my blog’s never-powerful comment system failed to enlighten me that you had posted such an interesting little titbit. I’ve spent so much on Lafon’s reds and they’ve always been a cruel and unusual punishment to drink. This was über-shit, a real shit-experts’ shit wine. I’m sorry yours was the same. Perhaps we can organise a group to go and steal his undoubtedly good red vineyards and make good wine from them!