A great interview of Olivier Leflaive by Winefullness
Ask most people about their favourite wine region and you’ll find that most roads seem to lead to Burgundy with it’s twin, beautiful, representations of life and land that are personified in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Has there ever been such a part of France that seems so effortlessly gifted when it comes to producing wines that rock the world?
One of the names I always love to see on the label is Olivier Leflaive, because tasting one of his beautiful whites from Bâtard-Montrachet or Corton is to feel luxury travelling from a glass to inside of you.
I was so pleased when Olivier Leflaive agreed to answer some questions because I just didn’t think he would be able to spare the time. Making epic wines doesn’t just happen by accident you know?
WINEFULLNESS: ‘Which of your magnificent wines would you present to a person who is new to the wines of Olivier Leflaive?’
OLIVIER LEFLAIVE: ‘To start I would welcome a new wine lover with a Bourgogne les Sétilles. This wine is not expensive and shows the style of Puligny and Meursault, because the vineyard comes from two thirds Puligny and one third from Meursault (the richness of Meursault and the finesse and elegance of Puligny).’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘How many of the Leflaive family work in the family business, and did they have to start at the bottom?’
OLIVIER: ‘The family who are working are Olivier Leflaive are my brother Patrick and I (present every day but half-retired) my daughter Julie Leflaive, my son-in-law Jean Soubeyrand (director) and my nephew Jerome (finance and accounting).’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘I’m taking you out for your favourite meal. What are you going to order?’
OLIVIER: ‘Sea fruit with a Puligny-Montrachet 1st cru 2012, or a Bâtard-Montrachet with a lobster in American sauce.’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘Is it impossible for you to retire?’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘Is there a myth you have heard about the winemaking community of Burgundy that you wish to dispel?’
OLIVIER: ‘First myth: The wines are too expensive. We have a large choice of less expensive wines: Sétilles, Montagny, Rully, Chablis, Saint-Romain…
‘Second myth: The wines have too much alcohol. This is a question of harvesting at a good time. I am an ‘average’ winemaker who tries for not too much natural level of sugar in the grapes, not too much concentration and not too much acidity.
‘It’s all a question of choosing a good time for picking the grapes.’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘What is your biggest weakness?
OLIVIER: ‘Relying on the weather and trying not to interfear!!!’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘What was the reasoning behind opening a hotel and restaurant?
OLIVIER: ‘Many reasons: Wines goes well with food, especially in a high level restaurant. I also think that Burgundian wines often need explaining and we have four sommeliers to explain about the vineyard.
‘We also found that visitors wanted to experience the life of the vineyard and winery more than they could on a daily visit. I also take a great personal pleasure in meeting customers and thanking them.’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘What makes you laugh?’
OLIVIER: ‘Donald Trump, except when he increases the tax on French wine to 25% (who knows, it might be more by the time this article comes out)!!!. More seriously, I do love humour in jokes’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘What is your favourite time of the day?’
OLIVIER: ‘The morning when my palate is clear to taste, and bedtime when I find moments to dream…”
WINEFULLNESS: ‘Has Chardonnay given up all its secrets in the Burgundy area?’
OLIVIER LEFLAIVE: ‘There are so many styles and techniques from so many winemakers. Perhaps it is possible to find all the secrets of Chardonnay if you taste the thousands on offer from Burgundy!’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘Where next for the Leflaive business?’
OLIVIER: ‘To try and make progress with my wines and in my life. The health of my business is not my first ambition, it is a result. The pleasure of my customers is my best motivation!’
WINEFULLNESS: ‘What is your philosophy?’
OLIVIER: ‘Make people love Burgundy. It’s landscape, it’s monuments, its history, its wines and people (this is sometimes a little bit difficult when Burgundians don’t always like to have open doors and a friendly attitude!!).’