The success of Domaine Leflaive does not just simply lie in its award-winning wines. The innovative design of its egg-shaped cellar gives us an insight into the domaine’s dynamic philosophy and culture.
"The egg signifies life; the design is very spiritual. The urity of line represents the purity of our wines. The light is also beautiful. This is our art."
Domaine Leflaive has long been an iconic producer of white Burgundy and today is globally recognised as the most famous estate in Puligny-Montrachet. It was founded in 1905 by Joseph Leflaive and is currently managed by his great-grandson Brice de La Morandiere. Thanks to Anne-Claude Leflaive, the third generation of Leflaives and one of Burgundy’s most respected winemakers, Domaine Leflaive has been a pioneer of biodynamic viticulture for over twenty years.
The Golden Ratio - Domaine Leflaive’s egg-shaped cellar
Just in time to welcome the 2013 harvest, ‘the cellar of the egg’ was completed in September that same year. The designer was Marine Jacques-Leflaive, Anne-Claude’s daughter, who aimed to extend Domaine Leflaive’s philosophy of biodynamic cultivation and design a building that encapsulated this approach. Biodynamics is a philosophy, an attitude, an art of living where the balance of nature is at the heart of the vinegrower’s every action.
Why is the cellar egg-shaped?
The proportions of the golden ratio are incorporated into the design of the cellar, transforming it into a work of art. “The egg signifies life; the design is very spiritual. The purity of line represents the purity of our wines. The light is also beautiful. This is our art”, Mr. de La Morandiere explained. The perfectly curved design of the cellar reflects the harmony and geometric patterns inherent in the nature of life.
Aside from aesthetics, the egg-shaped design promotes sustainable development. In Puligny- Montrachet, the water table is too high to bury a cellar. Needing to avoid air-conditioning or any materials which might harm the environment, Marine Jacques-Leflaive worked on the principle of the golden ratio, creating an egg-shaped cellar above ground using only natural, locally-sourced materials: a mixture of straw, wood, clay and earth bricks. The completed cellar is 7 metres high, and is built to hold up to 180 barrels. It successfully maintains natural humidity at 90% and near 13°C all year long. The wines stored in the new cellar consequently maintain a better connection with the natural environment.
The art and science behind the golden ratio design principles allow wines to develop a better balance and performance in tastings. Anne-Claude organised a blind tasting to test the influence of the new egg-shaped cellar, and surprisingly 90% of well-known oenologists concurred that there was a notable difference between wines aged in the egg cellar and wines aged in a normal cellar. They agreed that the egg cellar of Domaine Leflaive provides an ideal environment for the preservation and maturing of wine, which in turn creates more elegant wines.
With its inventive approach to fusing biodynamics and Burgundian traditions, Domaine Leflaive blazes a trail in modern society in furthering human development whilst ensuring the protection of nature.