Olivier Leflaive

Olivier Leflaive is a negociant winemaker based in the village of Puligny-Montrachet, found in the Côte d’Or subregion of Burgundy. The estate specialises in high-end Chardonnay white wines.

Olivier is part of the family that owns Domaine Leflaive, but the two businesses are entirely separate.

The story behind Olivier Leflaive negociant house is a suggestive dance between tradition and innovation. Olivier is part of the winemakers’ family owning Domaine Leflaive and he did indeed work for the family business between 1982 and 1994, although his own brand is completely separate.

Olivier was born in 1945 and started building an economics and business background through his university studies. The decade between 1972 and 1981 was a time where the young Olivier enjoyed the bohemian Paris lifestyle, engaging with the show-business environment alongside friends who worked in the media, while teaching accounting in his spare time. Before going back to the family business, he was also a booking agent for some singers and folk bands, as well as a scheduler for the radio station France Inter.

While still working at his family domaine, Olivier started his own negociant business in 1984 in order to supply a request from a renowned American importer looking for wines from Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet. As the family estate didn’t own vineyards, he decided to buy grapes from plots from that area and vinify them himself, relying in his family winemaking tradition.

This was quite an innovative approach in Burgundy at the time, but Olivier was followed in his journey by investors and wine professionals interested in his “en primeur” business model, selling before bottling. Furthermore, talented, young winemaker Franck Grux joined in 1988, followed by his general manager and former son-in-law Jean Souberyand in 2017.

In 2010, Olivier decided to retire, but his involvement in the business strongly remains as he still bears the flag of the estate that built around his personality and values.

Olivier Leflaive wines are vinified and aged to the equivalent of 120 hectares of vines. Less than 20 hectares belong directly to the estate, while the equivalent of 100 hectares are purchased grapes from outside suppliers.

95% of these purchased grapes come from plots spread across the Côte de BeauneCôte Châlonnaiseand Chablis. The most important ones, however, are in Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet.

The yearly production of the estate is about 700,000 bottles, 85% of which is white wine.

The main grape variety of Olivier Leflaive’s wines are Chardonnay, accounting for over 90% of the total, with a small minority of wines made from Pinot Noir and Aligoté.

The 17 hectares of vines belonging to the estate have been cultivated according to biodynamic principles for over 20 years. The estate doesn’t own any organic certification, but use of chemical treatments is kept to a bare minimum.

Harvesting is a key part of the process, with the estate employing its own team of pickers. Grapes are handpicked in the suppliers’ vineyards and in the 17 hectares owned by Olivier. Olivier Leflaive is against mechanical harvest as it tampers the plant and doesn’t provide the same attention to detail or knowhow as the eyes of the harvesters.

Taking care of as many steps of the process as possible is one of the values of the company and one of the reasons why Olivier reluctantly defines himself a traditional negociant, differentiating themselves from those who buy ready-vinified products in barrels.

After harvest, the grapes are softly pressed and left to settle before fermentation. The famous white wines go through both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation before being  aged. Olivier Leflaive uses both vats and oak barrels, with the proportion of new oak dependant on the wine.

Frank Grux has been the winemaker of the estate since 1988. Each wine is vinified with the same care and methods as any other first-class Burgundy domaine, with barrel fermentation and ageing in small oak barriques.

Olivier Leflaive’s trademark can be found in elegance and finesse rather than power and ostentatiousness. The impact of new oak on the wines is very limited and the wines are usually quite approachable at an early stage.

From this producer, we’ve chosen for you a 2009 Olivier Leflaive Abbaye de Morgeot, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru.