Although, for over a century the Estate has been an established element of Burgundian history, its origins can be traced back to the south-west of France, and more specifically to the Tarn and Garonne.
It fact it was in Valence-sur-Agen that Jules Joseph Barthélémy Lafon was born on March 29th, 1864. His father, Charles Lafon was Land Registrar in the area and later in the Pyrenees.
Described as 'brilliant' by his professors, Jules completed his studies and joined the Public Registry Office where he was promoted to Inspector in 1887.
Key dates for reference:
- January 22nd,1894: Married Marie Boch whose family were wine merchants and estate owners in Meursault
- February, 1906: Resigned from The Public Registry in order to pursue a career in law.
- December 4th, 1918: Title of Papal Count conferred by the Holy See in recognition of his refusal to use his position of Inspector to oblige clerics to declare their fortunes.
- 1923: Whilst Mayor of Meursault, Jules Lafon revived the tradition of celebrating the end of the grape harvest with a meal. Although originally for the estate proprietor and his workers he also invited 35 of his friends to a banquet and the famous 'Paulée de Meursault' was born. It rapidly evolved to become, after the banquet at Clos Vougeot and the wine auctions at the Hospice of Beaune, the final stage of the 'Trois Glorieuses'. Nowadays, around 600 people take part each year and during the course of the proceedings, the literary prize of the same name is presented.
- 1931: Relinquished all responsibilities at the Dijon Courts of Law in order to devote his time exclusively to the estate.
- January 13th, 1940: Died at his home. Cf. tribute published in 'Le Miroir Dijonnais et de Bourgogne', n° 211, February, 1940.
The varied interests of Jules Lafon included: Amateur art collecting: engravings; tapestries, including Aubusson; furniture, including Boule; coins; medals; Chinese miniatures. A learned man, he had an extensive library; he was a traveller; a writer and even an adventurer as illustrated in the description of his flight in a balloon in August 1892.
The Estate as it exists today was largely established by Jules Lafon and it is important to distinguish the parcels originating from the Marie Boch inheritance (some of which have since been sold, particularly those of generic Burgundy), from other land bought or exchanged:
- The Boch Inheritance:
- les achats ou échanges
The Boch Inheritance
- Monthélie (only Les Duresses remains today. Other 'climats' such as 'En la Rue- Chavy' and 'Sous-le-Puits-de-Curty' were sold by Pierre and Henry Lafon.)
- Clos des Chênes (Aboz), aquired by Henri Boch in 1853
- Clos de la Barre et En la Barre
- Volnay Champans
- Volnay Santenots-du-milieu
- le Montrachet (en 1918)
- la Goutte d'Or
- les Genevrières-dessus
- les Perrières
- lesVolnay Santenots
- le Clos des Chênes
- part of Les Charmes
Pierre and Henri Lafon
What they brought to the estate was of limited interest. Following the premature death of Pierre in 1944, Henri clearly intended to sell off the estate which was mainly rented out to sharecroppers. His son, René Lafon, who at that time lived and worked in Paris was opposed to the idea.
Throughout this period of uncertainty the Estate was farmed by sharecroppers.
After his determined intervention to prevent the division of the vineyards, René Lafon took over the estate in 1956 and with the sharecroppers cooperation, set about getting the vineyards back into condition which involved extensive planting. Gradually, a higher and higher proportion of the production was bottled leading to the entire production by 1961. His interest in wine and the vine led him to leave Paris and move permanently to Meursault and to the Victorian abode which remains the home of his wife and himself.
He took over from his father in 1984, initially with his brother Bruno. In 1987, he gradually terminated the existing sharecropping agreements (9 year leases). Since when, the entire Estate of 13.80 hectares has been managed solely by the Domaine des Comtes Lafon.