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Jul 22, 2012 06:28 PM

What is the difference between these two ALMOST identical white Burgundy wines?

I have two 2006 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet white wines. The labels look identical except one says 1er, Clavoillon, and the other does not. Additionally, the 1er cost $100 and I was told to drink it between 2013-2018, while the other cost $70 and I was told to drink it before 2014.

Also, what food should I serve with these wines? I've read roast chicken, shellfish, cream-based sauces, and corn go well with white Burgundy. Do I need to stay away from food with citrus? What about BBQ food? Any particular cheeses you would recommend?

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  1. 1. Oxidization (essentially the wine deadening) can be an issue with White Burgundies. I am a risk adverse person, so if you only have one bottle of each I would drink these sooner rather than later e.g. in the next couple years.

    2. One Burgundy is from a particular vineyard (Clavoillon) - the other is probably sourced from multiple vineyards.

    3. Also check for specific reviews of these wines

    4. Generally, White Burgundies have a lot of green apple acidity which cuts butter and cream well, some light buttery-ness to round the wine out, and some nutty/woodsy slight spice flavors from the oak. Grilling/searing/carmalizing cooking techniques go well with the nutty/woodsy flavors, and butter and cream go well with the buttery-ness flavors of the wine. While the green apple acidity of the wine, helps offset the heaviness of the dish.

    Generally whites can't stand up to really heavy meat flavors of say beef or lamb. But will go well with fish, chicken, and some duck or pork dishes.

    Key things to stay away from if playing it safe is sweet/chili pepper/cayenne flavors in the sauces. White Burgundies, with all the green apple acidity, can taste sour against the sweet. Also, the heat of the chili pepper can really ruin the flavors of the wine.

    1. The Clavoillon, the single vineyard wine, is classified a "Premier Cru" or First Growth, signified by the "1er" designation on the label. This indicates a wine of higher quality in theory and higher price in practice. Higher quality than what? Than so-called Village wine, such as "simple" Puligny-Montrachet, which is presumed higher quality than the sub-region in which Puligny is located, Beaune, which in itself is classified higher than Bourgogne (Burgundy). (The final step up would be to what is known as a Grand Cru, usually also a single vineyard with the highest reputation and prices)

      As you may or may not know, the French AOC system works as illustrated above, grading wines from large geographic areas to small, as small as a single vineyard. Generally spaking, the smaller the AOC (geographic area) the finer the wine.

      BBQ? Put this thought out of your mind. These are pretty nice wines - if you make your fare simple, such as a roast chicken, you will allow the wines to shine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FrankJBN

        Frank is right on as to the difference between these two wines, but they merit a dish way more involved than roast chicken.

        Come to think of it, I would never drink Chardonnay with roast chicken. Light red, light-med white.

      2. Domaine Leflaive (not Olivier Leflaive) makes some of the finest white burgs - PERIOD - end of sentence. Surprised you found the Clavillon at such a good price. Had the 06 Clavillon just last week along with an 06 Meursault, Batard and Chevalier. All Dom Leflaive. The Chevalier absolutely rocked (at $400 it should) the Clavillon was a fairly close second.

        Roast a chicken and get some really good soft cheese. No need to wait to drink either one.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jock

          Are you thinking of some other wine other than the Clavoillon? I'm seeing $100 as the average price. Agreed that there's no need to wait to drink the wines.

          1. re: goldangl95

            The $400 price tag was for Domaine Leflaive's Chevalier Montrachet, not the Clavoillon.

            1. re: craig_g

              Yes, but "surprised you found the Clavoillon at such a good price" has an implication that $100 is a discounted price.

          2. re: jock

            For me, a fairly bland chicken (maybe a hint of tarragon, maybe some parsley, or light rosemary), lobster (no real seasoning), or cheeses (soft, runny triple-cream would be MY choice), or just by itself, for the Clavillon.

            Do not serve too cold. Serve in a wider-bowl glass, like you would a red Burg/Pinot Noir, and spend some time exploring that wine.

            I agree on drinking both fairly soon, unless you have a very good cellar, AND enjoy older white Burgs - not everyone does.

            Most of all, sit back, sip, smell and enjoy!


          3. So as not to repeat, Leflaive is a classically terrific wine. The Clavoillon *should* be a stellar wine to lay down for awhile, however, the reviews have not been so hot. I have not tried it myself but I have plenty of older premier cru Dom Leflaive and they improve with age. Given the not so glowing reviews, I would go ahead and wait -because you have nothing to lose.

            I would drink the other one soon with a nice shellfish dish. Maybe fresh clams. These wines tend to be on the mineraly side and pair really nice with shellfish and a classic french frisee salad (subtle vinaigrette and poached egg) with buttery croutons. I like Montrachet with classic, clean, fresh, light foods so that it lets the complex notes shine in the wine.

            1. Domaine Leflaive is a highly regarded producer of White Burgundy wines (i.e.: Chardonnay). White Burgundies have many classifications under the French system known as Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée. As others have already said, the Clavoillon is a Premier Cru vineyard, of which Domaine Leflaive owns almost the entire thing -- 4.79 hectares out of 5.59 hectares (11.84 acres out of a total of 13.81). It is produced under the regulations governing the appellation Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru contrôlée, and ONLY grapes from the Clavoillon vineyard are used in the production of this wine.

              The second wine is a "straight," or "regular," or "villages" wines from Puligny-Montrachet, and while it is made from grapes grown by Domaine Leflaive, you have no way of knowing from the label, which vineyards the grapes came from to make the wine. It is produced under the regulation of the appellation Puligny-Montrachet contrôlée -- and that is a *different* set of regulations from the previous wine . . . very similar, perhaps, but different in some very important ways.

              For example, the grapes must reach a degree of ripeness defined as "11 degrees (percent) potential alcohol" for a Puligny-Montrachet villages wine, but they must be 11.5 degrees for a Puligny-Montrachet her Cru. Also, the yields are larger for the villages wines -- 57 HL/ha, versus 55HL/ha for the 1er Crus. There are other differences as well . . .

              Stylistically, Leflaive's white Burgundies are more opulent than, say, those from Etienne Sauzet, but still classically Burgundian in character, style, and flavor. I, too, would err on the side of "sooner rather than later" in terms of consumption. Try the villages wine with a simple roast chicken (keep in mind, with a great chicken, there are few things better!), roasted potatoes and haricot vert, for example. I'd probably opt for something a bit more complex, maybe towards a Dungeness crab, or perhaps the roast chicken with a cream sauce . . . .


              5 Replies
              1. re: zin1953

                Second the food suggestions - a long with Dungeness crab, seared scallops in a butter or cream sauce can work too.

                1. re: goldangl95

                  OK, stop that! You're making me hungry . . .

                2. re: zin1953

                  Not sure that I would go toward Dungeness Crab, but that might be my only quibble.

                  As you say, Laflavie's wines ARE more opulent, though still within the general parameters of white Burgs.

                  For that crab, unless you "sauce it up," I might think Loire, instead.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    right now is not the season for Dungeness crab -- whatever is being sold in the 'lower 48' was cooked and frozen further north and then thawed for retail sale. however, American lobster is in season. and some of the best Dungeness preparations might not be ideal for premium white bourgogne.

                    1. re: moto

                      White my white Burgs, and either lobster, or crab (most varieties), I like a lighter creme sauce. If one is doing lobster w/ drawn butter and lemon, then I opt toward a Meursault for Char, and probably more to a Sancerre, due to the citrus note.

                      If one does not go with a sauce, then Champagne.