The why, the what and the how of...
Domaine Lafarge-Vial is a biodynamic estate in Beaujolais owned and managed by the Lafarge family of the iconic Domaine in Volnay.
In 2014, Frederic and Chantal Lafarge decided to embark on a new adventure in Beaujolais, south of Burgundy in the land of the Gamay grape and granite soil. The couple wanted to invest in their own project that would be entirely their own. Hence the dual name of Lafarge-Vial (Vial being Chantal’s maiden name).
They first purchased 2.25 hectares and a winemaking facility. For their first vintage in 2014, they produced three cuvées – Chiroubles, Fleurie Bel Air and Fleurie Clos Vernay. Following the Lafarge philosophy, each wine reflects its individual and specific vineyard origin. They also decided to work their vineyards biodynamically from the outset and applying the same attention to detail as they do in their Volnay vineyards. The Domaine’s total surface area increased to 4.1 hectares from the 2015 vintage. This includes the high altitude, old vine plot of Joie du Palais in Fleurie. The steep slopes require horse-ploughing, for which the Lafarges recruit Max, a beautiful grey horse who also spends time working Olivier Merlin’s vineyard in Moulin à Vent.
The slight delay in ripeness between the Côte de Beaune and the Beaujolais allows the Lafarges to be fully present during harvest at both domaines. The steep, goblet-trained vineyards are hand-harvested and mostly de-stemmed, though there is up to 25% whole cluster. The couple prefers to stick to traditional Burgundian vinification to ensure transparent terroir expression. Gentle extraction (with alternated punch-downs and pump-overs in 2014 and only pump-overs in 2015) and a relatively short élevage of 12 months in older barrels (228 or 350 liters) or foudres (30hl) is the rule of thumb for these Beaujolais Crus.