Burgundy made better by egg-shaped cellar26th March, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt
A tasting has shown that wines from Domaine Leflaive aged in the producer’s new egg-shaped cellar are superior to those stored in its old facility.
Speaking to the drinks business last week, Anne-Claude Leflaive said that she had organised a blind tasting with 14 winemakers this month in Burgundy at the Ecole du Vin et des Terroirs – a school she established in Puligny-Montrachet in 2008 – to test the influence of her new cellar on the wines from her family’s domaine in the Côte d’Or.
Following the tasting, which comprised “14 very well known winemakers”, as many as 90% of those present “thought that the wine aged in the egg cellar was a more elegant wine”, according to Anne-Claude, who showed the wines blind from her new and old ageing facility to the tasters.
Anne-Claude, who was named Winemakers’ Winemaker 2014 at ProWein on Monday – an award given by the drinks business and Institute of Masters of Wine – used her new cellar for the first time last year, installing wines from the 2013 vintage in barrel.
The building was finished in June and has been designed by Anne-Claude’s daughter, Marine Jacques-Leflaive, an architect who specialises in sustainable winery design.
Holding up to 180 barrels, the new cellar is built above ground due to the high water table in Puligny-Montrachet, where Domaine Leflaive is based.
The cellar is 7 metres high and made with wood, straw and clay as well as earth bricks, and has a natural humidity of 80% and a constant temperature of 12 degrees Celsius.
Called La Cave de l’Oeuf, after the cellar’s egg shape, Anne-Claude said “the shape is very important for everything,” pointing out that the “egg” proportions represent the Golden Ratio, which, she added, “are best for the wine”.
Summing up, she said the new cellar provided “the best conditions possible” for ageing her wines.
While egg-shaped vessels have become increasingly common for fermenting and ageing wine – with Nomblot credited with producing the world’s first concrete egg in 2001, and Taransaud the pioneer of a wooden equivalent exactly 10 years later – Domaine Leflaive is the first producer to create an egg-shaped cellar.
You can read more about the making of the novel cellar by clicking here. Anne-Claude’s daughter, Marine Jacques-Leflaive, runs a firm called Atelier Zéro Carbone Architectes, having learnt sustainable design following a two-year stint at London’s Zed Factory firm, which specialises in zero energy development.
Finally, Anne-Claude Leflaive is one of many high-profile winemakers to take part in this May’s IMW Symposium in Florence.
On the last day of the three-day event, she will present her wines alongside Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja (CEO, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia); Bill Harlan (owner and founder, Harlan Estate); Stephen Henschke (owner and winemaker, Henschke), and Peter Sisseck (owner and winemaker, Pingus).
Click here to see the full programme.