28 November 2019


Sulphur dioxide (SO2), as an antiseptic and antioxidant, is essential for the conservation of white wines. Its use in the vineyard dates back to antiquity, as attested by the treatise ''De Agri Cultura'' by Cato the Elder (234 BC). Pliny (23 AD) recommends the burning of sulphur as a wine preservative.

If in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, an excess of sulphur in wines could provoke a bitter taste, a loss of aromas and migraines, today's scientific knowledge makes it possible to reach a solution by using only a few tens of milligrams per litre. Some urban legends are stubborn but the origin of migraines and memory loss are to be found in the excess consumption of alcohol rather than in excess SO2.

The second half of the 20th century saw the development of sulphur from petrochemicals (in particular from Lacq gas in France), which almost completely replaced French agricultural sulphur, derived from Sicilian deposits in the form of sulphur ore of volcanic origin.

That is why at Domaine Leflaive, we have gradually abandoned petrochemical sulphur, to use only volcanic sulphur in the vineyards of the Domaine (as protection against powdery mildew). The sulphurous solution required for the wines is produced in Puligny by the Domaine team (see photo) using a sulphur burner which collects the sulphur vapour by bubbling in water.

We are convinced that natural sulphur is more effective in lower doses, but above all it corresponds to our philosophy of using naturally occurring products.