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Average critic rating : 95.0 points
Magnificent. The 2011 Corton-Renardes Grand Cru has a bewitching floral bouquet, perhaps not quite as complex as the Clos de la Roche but beautifully defined, perhaps haunting being the most appropriate word. The palate leans more toward a red fruit profile with succulent ripe tannins; gentle grip and a multi-layered, white pepper-tinged finish that revivifies the senses, leaving it tingling long after the wine has departed. ||Since I started visiting chateaux and growers in 1997, I have been fortunate to have ticked off most of my personal Holy Grails, yet a handful remain. One was to visit Domaine Leroy and taste with Lalou Bize-Leroy, who I have only met briefly on two occasions in London. Given the responsibility of covering Burgundy, I avowed to tick that one off as soon as possible. So, on a sultry Thursday morning, I finally pulled into the pebbled courtyard of her winery in the village of Vosne with maybe just a single butterfly fluttering around inside. Lalou was stepping out of her 4x4, beloved dogs yapping around their mother and perhaps warning her of an intruder in their midst. They are not exactly cut out to be guard dogs – no offence intended. Lalou was exactly how I remembered – with her wiry frame, like a titanium alloyed twig. Her piercing hawk-like blue eyes and angular cheekbones would give Kate Moss a run for her money. She was attired like a fashionable thirty-something and exuded the vivacity of a twenty-something with a penchant for the occasional rock climb. After pleasantries we discussed her belief in biodynamism and the ways in which the cosmos affects Mother Nature down to the Earth’s core. We toured the rudimentary winery occupied by the black-painted wooden vats and then down below to a vaulted tasting room, bottles lying hither and thither of what must constitute every wine she has made since acquiring Charles Noellat’s holdings in 1988 to establish Domaine Leroy. She was courteous to the point of occasionally scolding herself for vocally enthusing about the wines, mindful of not disturbing my perspicuity. Did the wines stand up to their reputations and let us face it, stratospheric price? The answer is “Yes.” Here was a master-class in terroir: the wines made in almost identical fashion in the winery, so that what is perceived in bottle is the interplay between Mother Nature and vine (under the guiding hand of Rudolph Steiner philosophy). Of course, one must always remain objective, and I have been around the block enough times to simply relate precisely what I find within the radius of a wineglass. And in 2011, it was clear that the wines of Lalou Bize-Leroy seemed to deliver a sensational level of quality that would make most winemakers curl up and weep, asking: “How does she do it?” I had to inquire at the end of the tasting whether they were all matured entirely in new oak, so seamlessly was the wood embroidered into each cuvee. Tasting through the entire range of 23 wines, before zooming down to Domaine d’Auvenay, the high points were scintillating Nuits-St-Georges Village Crus that transcended all my expectations and the sheer consistency of the Grand Crus, perhaps with the exception of the 2011 Latricieres-Chambertin, which I have always found wanting in the past. The Romanee-St-Vivant could be the apotheosis of the vintage, certainly one of the finest that I have tasted from the domaine and even dared “out-finesse” the Richebourg. What amazed me was the otherworldly precision, as if you could pick out each aroma or flavor from the air. Only the Chambolle-Musigny Charmes appeared unruly when compared to its peers, a little too feisty on the nose for my liking. Otherwise, this is just magic in a glass. eRobertParker.com.August, 2013
Leroy: The Importance
Leroy is one of the most prestigious names in the whole of Burgundy. Commanding occasionally eye-wateringly expensive prices and garnering impossibly high praise from virtually every wine critic that has tasted them. The quotes speak for themselves:
"Lalou Bize-Leroy stands virtually alone at the top of Burgundy's quality hierarchy... her wines embarrass much of what is produced in Burgundy.” and “Lalou Bize-Leroy. The controversial Lalou must drive many Burgundians crazy given the extraordinary quality of her wines, and the high prices they fetch. She is un uncompromising winemaker, with a portfolio of red and white Burgundies that qualitatively have no peers.” - Robert Parker
"This is the greatest estate in Burgundy... The sheer concentration, depth and intensity Lalou Bize-Leroy manages to squeeze into her bottles is breathtaking." - Clive Coates MW
"Leroy, absolute perfection. More than a model, the wines are an absolute reference." - La Revue du Vin de France
"Their finesse and persistence of flavour is extraordinary." - Decanter Magazine
"The descriptor 'stunning' isn't praise enough..." - Allen Meadows
The iconic wines produced here are the benchmark against which practically all Burgundy is assessed by critics and connoisseurs. The final word goes to Robert Parker, who said: “Today, this is the greatest estate in Burgundy, producing uncompromising wines of irrefutable longevity and intensity.”
Leroy: The Insight
Alongside Domaine de la Romanée Conti and sister winery Domaine d’Auvenay, Leroy produces the most exclusive and highly-sought after wines of Burgundy. Across the vintages and throughout their entire range, their tiny output and immense quality mean an almost perfect storm where supply can never meet demand. This means that inevitably initial allocations disappear into private cellars immediately on release.
Leroy is owned by Lalou Bize-Leroy, described by Jancis Robinson as “Burgundy’s most celebrated vigneronne” and “the queen of Burgundy”. Previously the co-manager of the iconic Domaine de la Romanée Conti, her empire now comprises three entities: Domaine d’Auvenay based around an old hunting lodge, the original Domaine Leroy and the Maison Leroy Collection. Domaine Leroy forms the top tier and for many the pinnacle of Burgundian wine. The Maison Leroy Collection, a continuation of her father’s négociant business, is the “insider” buy and offers an affordable entry to the domain, something not provided by the likes of DRC. Leroy has no contract with any grape growers. Instead three courtiers present a selection of unlabelled wines to Lalou Bize-Leroy, who tastes them blind with no knowledge of price or provenance. She stakes her considerable reputation on her expert palate and market knowledge and selects the Maison’s outturn from what she has tasted. This is one of a few houses that can offer twenty, thirty or forty year-old wines that have lain unmoved in the cellar since bottling. Below you will find the wines from both Domaine Leroy and Maison Leroy Collection.
Due to the exclusivity of Leroy and Lalou Bize-Leroy’s “mesmerizing wines” (Neal Martin), 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 wine. This puts us in the privileged position of receiving the largest direct allocation of any UK wine merchant and an invitation to visit and taste with her each year. Therefore, although it is virtually impossible to predict which vintage of which appellation will come next, what is known is that FINE+RARE is the place to access Leroy. But please be aware that allocations sell out rapidly, so make sure your Account Manager is fully aware of your interest.
Leroy: 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.
Leroy’s impressive holdings include nine Grands Crus (Corton-Charlemagne, Corton-Renardes, Richebourg, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Clos de Vougeot, Musigny, Clos de la Roche, Latricières-Chambertin and Chambertin) and eight Premier Crus (Volnay Santenots du Milieu, Savigny Les Beaune Les Narbantons. Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Vignerondes and Aux Boudots,Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées and Les Beaux Monts, Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes and Gevrey Chambertin Les Combottes), yields are restricted to just four bunches per vine and only perfect grapes make it past the sorting table (Bize-Leroy employs as many pickers as harvesters). Biodynamic viticulture is strictly adhered to within the 23 hectares of old vines and she has not employed a winemaker or oenologist since 1993 and firmly believes that this is not a requirement of a domain with perfect fruit. And as Robert Parker says: “You will simply never get a disappointing bottle of wine from Bize-Leroy. Her wines not only reflect their appellations, but are Burgundy’s reference points.”
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