I never spent time with Anne Claude Leflaive, though she was a familiar face and taste. Through the years, I'd often stuck out my glass for drips of her wine. Over more than a decade I've sampled (and drank) both the Burgundy domaine wines and her Loire Valley Clau du Nell. I hadn't known she was ill until the news of her death at 59 earlier this week.
It's impossible not to conjure up two vivid memories, which seem to be a glimpse into her personality, that I'd like to share.
It was in 2009 at the Renaissance des Appellation tasting when I was asked to help out with American selections. Before the tasting Pascaline who was with me, eavesdropped on their meeting.
We were in the very cold chapel of the Coulée. The members were talking about their need to trademark their name. Then came the--who's going to deal with the paper work and who will even received the mail? To which Anne Claude, one of the more famous biodynamic vigneronnes in Burgundy quipped and sung a little solo of "Return to Sender," with a little shoulder jiggle action.
It was a strange moment. But kind of delightful to see that playful side of her. Later we got to see her admire a California pinot that most others rejected, as she shrugged and took another sip defiantly.
Funny, but those two memories linger--ditzy, individualistic and free--just as much as tasting the wines which always did sing of life and vibrancy. They had that energy going on. As she seemed to have. Maybe she still does.