Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
The modern era saw the development of the Domaine to its present dimension by Joseph Leflaive (1870-1953). After running a metalworks factory owned by his father-in-law in Saint-Etienne while still looking after the property, Joseph returned to take complete charge in 1926, seconded by François Virot. Already he had increased the vineyard holdings by some 25 hectares.
Until 1933, the wine was mainly sold to négociants, but direct markets were afterwards developed in the restaurants of France and also thanks to an influential American shipper based in New York, Frederick Wildman. In his lifetime, Joseph arranged for the property to be shared by his children. From 1953 to 1982, the Domaine flourished under the direction of two sons, Jo and Vincent, during which time an official company structure was put into place in 1973 to avoid it being split up through inheritance laws. In 1990, the family named Anne-Claude, Vincent’s daughter, as joint manager alongside Olivier, son of Jo, before handing over total management to Anne-Claude in 1994, with Pierre Morey as cellar-master until his retirement in 2008.
From 1990 onwards, Anne-Claude Leflaive decided to convert the estate to biodynamic viticulture. As she said to British wine writer Clive Coates, “Before I had even heard of biodynamism, my instincts told me that whatever we do in our lives must be done with a respect for nature and the environment.” Today, her decision has been vindicated, and the quality of the wines has never been so high. She was named in 2006 the best white wine-maker in the world by Decanter Magazine.
After her premature death in 2015, her nephew Brice de La Morandière, great-grandson of Joseph Leflaive, took the reins of the estate. Significant developments have been carried out, including the quest for higher precision in winemaking, a new corking process, some replanting and extension of the vineyards as well as the renovation of the cellar facilities. In 2017 he appointed Pierre Vincent for the day-to-day operational management.
Most importantly, back vintages released by the Domaine are now going through a new quality-check process to make sure each and every bottle is of best possible quality: removal of the old cork, tasting and recorking under protected atmosphere with new Diams corks that have proved very effective for preserving the freshness of Chardonnay. Domaine Leflaive has the distinction of owning 27 hectares of vines in Puligny-Montrachet, including 4.8 hectares of Grands Crus and 11.8 hectares of Premiers Crus. In addition, the Domaine has developed in the Maconnais region with 24 hectares in total in the Verzé and Solutré villages.