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Domaine d’Auvenay: The Importance
Domaine d’Auvenay is run by Lalou Bize-Leroy, a winemaker that Robert Parker says: “stands virtually alone at the top of Burgundy’s quality hierarchy… her wines embarrass much of what is produced in Burgundy.” In his Wine Buyer’s Guide, Parker rates Domaine d’Auvenay as one of only a handful of five-star “Outstanding” producers, saying that their wines are: “some of the richest, most complex, most ageworthy of the white Burgundies.”
Described by Jancis Robinson as “Burgundy’s most celebrated vigneronne” and “the queen of Burgundy”, Lalou Bize-Leroy was co-manager of the legendary Domaine de la Romanée Conti for almost two decades and Charles Taylor MW has said that she “has pushed the boundaries of viticulture more than any person over the past 20 years.”
Madame Leroy is the driving force behind three iconic Burgundy-producing domains: Maison Leroy, Domaine Leroy and Domaine d’Auvenay. The latter produces some of the most sought-after and expensive wines in the entire world, wines that reside in the top echelon of fine wine exclusivity, alongside the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Pétrus and Le Pin. Domaine d’Auvenay is named after Lalou Bize-Leroy’s home, an old hunting lodge outside St-Romain in the hills above Auxey-Duresses, which she shared with her husband Marcel until he passed away in 2004. This estate is therefore incredibly important to her and also to fine wine connoisseurs and collectors, because as Decanter puts it: “Despite its modest address, Auvenay has a number of grands crus in its portfolio, but quantities are minute, and the queue for allocations is long.”
Domaine d’Auvenay: The Insight
Neal Martin describes Lalou Bize-Leroy’s output as “mesmerizing wines”, and her Domaine d’Auvenay are extremely exclusive and elusive. It is virtually impossible to arrange a visit or secure an allocation. However, FINE+RARE have become a valued partner of Madame Leroy over decades selling her wines. This puts us in the privileged position of receiving the largest direct allocation of any UK wine merchant and an invitation to taste each year’s release. The insight is therefore that FINE+RARE is the place to access Domaine d’Auvenay and Bize-Leroy’s other wines. But please be aware that allocations sell out rapidly, so make sure your Account Manager is fully aware of your interest.
From our visits we can confirm Neal Martin’s assessment of the peaceful Domaine d’Auvenay “that nestles in the Burgundy hinterland, secluded and tranquil; the only sound the rustling of leaves and the occasional yapping dog.” Under the Domaine d’Auvenay label, which includes vines in Chevalier-Montrachet, Bonnes Mares, Mazis-Chambertin, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Criots-Bâtard-Montrache, Bize-Leroy makes biodynamic, estate-grown village, Premier and Grand Cru wines.
The releases from Domaine d’Auvenay are erratic and varied. It is impossible to predict which vintage of which appellation will come next. But what is guaranteed is that availability will be miniscule, quality will be exceptional, critic scores will be high and demand will be fierce.
Domaine d’Auvenay: The Background
In the 1950s, Lalou Bize-Leroy began working for her father’s négociant business called Maison Leroy. She dedicated her time to studying the vineyards of Burgundy. She developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the region’s terroir. By 1971 she was the Presdent/Directrice of Maison Leroy, accompanying her father to meetings at Domaine de la Romanée Conti, an investment her father had made in the 1940s giving him fifty percent ownership of the winery. Three years later Madame Leroy was the co-manager of DRC, where she worked until 1992, raising the status of the domain to its now astronomical level. However, for reasons that have garnered much speculation, Bize-Leroy left and turned her attention solely to her own businesses: Domaine d’Auvenay, Domaine Leroy and Maison Leroy. Lalou Bize-Leroy is often described as elfin, in fact Antonio Galloni has credited her with “the energy of a 20-year-old”, proven by her love of rock climbing. She restricts yields to four bunches per vine, implements rigorous quality control to ensure only perfect grapes make it into her wines, uses biodynamic viticulture, only replaces vines with her own cuttings and doesn’t employ an oenologist relying only on her own skills and the quality of her fruit. The company is one third owned by Takashimaya, the Japanese luxury department store and distributor.
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