A masterclass in fine Burgundy: Maison Leroy

Ahead of the annual release from the fabled Maison Leroy, Buying + Partner Director Corentin Margier reports on his pilgrimage to this iconic address in Auxey-Duresses
A masterclass in fine Burgundy: Maison Leroy

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No matter how many times you visit, a trip to Maison Leroy never loses its allure. Driving through the quiet streets of Auxey-Duresses, following the soft, chalky blue signs for Leroy that point the way, is always incongruous with the fame of this address. As we’ve written before, you won’t find the grandeur you’d expect from such an illustrious producer – Lalou Bize-Leroy, and her entire team, embodies a rare charm and down-to-earth character that you don’t expect. 

I was there to taste the new collection – an occasion which is always remarkable, winding your way through an array of vintages and cuvées of both colours. Bize-Leroy only releases her négociant wines when she feels they are ready to drink, meaning the collection often includes both recent vintages and older wines stretching back 40 or even 50 years. No matter the age, each one has been selected by “Madame” herself, the matriarch with one of Burgundy’s best noses. 

This year’s collection is notable for its youth – in all the right ways. Recent collections have included venerable bottles drawn from the property’s extensive cellars – offering a rare chance to taste flawlessly aged fine Burgundy, direct from the producer. This year’s line-up – of course – includes special vintages that will set cellar-hunters’ hearts aflutter, stunning Chardonnay from 1985 and ’79, as well as two reds from 1972, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Petits Monts and Echezeaux Grand Cru, which Gilles Desprez (Bize-Leroy’s right-hand man) highlighted as some of his personal stand-outs, showing amazing refinement and delicacy, despite their age. 

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A few of the wines in Maison Leroy's 2024 collection

Beyond these historied bottlings, however, you’ll find a selection of wines from the best recent vintages. For the reds, 2018 offers a rich and generous profile, approachable now yet with the depth of fruit to age; 2017 is a vintage of the moment, fully of juicy charm and bright acidity that is irresistible; while there are elegant 2015s and a concentrated 2016. 

As for the whites, the 2018s are soft, round and welcoming Chardonnays that nevertheless have everything needed to age, while the thrilling, taut 2014s are just edging into their long drinking window. A similar year, 2010, with high acidity and beautiful balance shines in the line-up – and the vintage is among my favourites for whites.  

Desprez notes what a pleasure it is to show these wines, offering a slightly different side to Burgundy for them. Of course, it’s perhaps reflective of current tastes – with a larger range of whites full of vibrant fruit and flinty minerality. For a man fortunate enough to taste more than his fair share of aged Burgundy, these wines are refreshing. While each release is ready for you to pull the cork on, these more youthful releases can also be aged (an excellent excuse to purchase more than one case, if you can, in our view). The line-up this year is really exciting, offering a real range of wines to appeal to all sorts of fine Burgundy drinkers.  

We won’t pretend that wines of this level come cheap, but a visit to taste at Maison Leroy reinforces exactly why their name commands such demand. These wines provide a masterclass in fine Burgundy – each one so reflective of its terroir and vintage, archetypal expressions of Burgundian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Take the 1979 Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Pucelles in this year’s collection, one of the handful of carefully chosen mature wines that feature. Tasting it in the morning, the nose was gorgeously expressive – pristine and mesmerising, yet took a full hour to open up on the palate. Tasting it later in the day, it was still gorgeous – exactly what aged Chardonnay should be – showing how good white Burgundy can be, and a bottle that I won’t be forgetting any time soon. 

Highlights from the 2024 Maison Leroy collection

2017 Bourgogne Rouge, Maison Leroy: Offering all the freshness and juiciness that one can find in 2017 red Burgundies at present, this Bourgogne Rouge offers everything you’d want from regional Pinot Noir. It’s very expressive and youthful on the nose, driven by red berries and sour cherries. The palate is lively and offers immediate pleasure, with a nice, savoury, peppery finish that makes it dangerously enjoyable now. Lovely now, this should drink nicely for the next five to seven years.

1999 Bourgogne Rouge, Maison Leroy: It’s been a few years since we last had a chance to taste Maison Leroy’s 1999 Bourgogne Rouge, and it was very interesting to compare this cuvée with the Hommage à l’An 2000 that was re-released last year. By comparison, the 1999 feels like it is still in its teen-years, with a powerful and concentrated profile compared to its millennial cousin. On the nose, it takes a few minutes to open up, but it is understated, elegant Pinot showing some evolution, with wild berries paired with dried petals. On the palate, it is at first interestingly youthful, led by dark fruit. The tannins are powerful, and the concentration impressive. This is drinking beautifully now and should enter its prime drinking window in two to three years. A fantastic showing for a regional appellation!

2018 Chorey-lès-Beaune, Maison Leroy: The 2018 Chorey-lès-Beaune is very perfumed, exuberant with florals and redcurrants. Always livelier and more fruit-forward than Monthélie (especially in warmer vintages), this often-overlooked terroir offers a beautiful level of complexity. On the palate, crunchy red berry fruit and juicy tannins lead on to a beautiful saltiness towards the finish. Its acidity and freshness beautifully balance the richness of the vintage. This is lovely to drink now and should evolve nicely for the next five to seven years.

2016 Santenay, Maison Leroy: Deep purple in colour, the 2016 Santenay is beautifully restrained when compared to its 2017 and 2018 siblings in this line-up. The discreet nose is lovely, driven by red fruit. The tannins are silky, coating the mouth pleasingly. There’s almost a creaminess to the mid-palate. Concentrated and with superb density, this is drinking well now but will benefit from another few years’ cellaring to show its full potential, it should then evolve beautifully for another eight to 10 years given its concentration.

2015 Côte de Nuits Villages, Maison Leroy: Made with fruit from around Nuits-Saint-Georges and Corgoloin, this offers a more austere nose – but it’s a very elegant and subtle Pinot. On the palate, it’s beautifully concentrated, with polished tannins. It starts with rich dark fruit, and there’s lovely acidity on the mid-palate that leads to a long, savoury finish. This is beautifully approachable now and will age nicely for another seven to 10 years.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin, Maison Leroy: Tasted just after its Côte de Nuits Villages cousin, the 2015 Gevrey-Chambertin offers a beautifully layered nose, aromatic yet serious. Its palate mirrors the profound nose, dense and concentrated with layer after layer of complexity – much more than one would expect for a village wine. Dark fruit evolves into more earthy and spicy notes, finishing on an almost floral finish. This is so subtle and delicate, a brilliant showing for a wine that can be drunk now but would be even more impressive after three to five extra years in the cellar.

2018 Bourgogne Blanc, Maison Leroy: This is aromatic and very expressive on the nose. The palate offers creamy lactic notes, and it’s got a beautiful texture and depth. It shows the ripness of the warm vintage, yet this is complemented by a backbone of minerality – balancing the rich weight of orchard fruit. Profound and lovely for a mere Bourgogne Blanc.

1998 Bourgogne Blanc, Maison Leroy: On the nose this is driven by citrus fruit. There is the slightest hint of pleasing oxidative tones, with richer fruit, yet not overly so – with the wine in pristine condition. It shows beautiful evolution on the palate, with honeysuckle notes and more exotic fruit – yet acidity that avoids risking any overly ripe or jammy character. A very delicate wine, this food to complement its evolved complexity. Drink in the next three years.

2019 Saint-Aubin, Maison Leroy: This is so fresh on the nose – full of white flowers and juicy white peach, it’s mineral, lovely and expressive. On the palate, however, there’s unexpected density and texture. This is super concentrated and youthful, yet also very enjoyable now – and one of those wines that will keep showing different facets with air, and long after you’ve swallowed a mouthful. This will need time to show its full potential, but is already glorious.

2019 Auxey-Duresses, Maison Leroy: This was our favourite in the line-up of 2019 and 2018s this year. Auxey-Duresses is a village that is often overlooked but that Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy masters. The nose is multilayered, showing riper notes than the Saint-Aubin, but more acidity too, and with a mouthcoating texture that almost feels weightier than the Meursault. This is very 2019, in the sense that it combines great richness and freshness. This is lovely and long, with a finish marked by creamy, lactic notes. Drink it now and over the next five to seven years.

2018 Meursault, Maison Leroy: This offers a dense nose packed with layers of complexity, yet it’s also very subtle and discreet. This will need a bit of time to fully show its character, as the layers peel back in bottle. With aeration, the wine unfurls with richer, riper stone-fruit notes. On the palate, there are hints of creamy, brioche-like notes, along with real density of fruit on the mid-palate – a rich and weighty wine. There’s a lovely long finish. If you can, give it another five to seven years in the cellar, as the wine is so tightly packed and concentrated that you may miss out (although it’s hard to resist now!).

2014 Chassagne-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Les Chenevottes, Maison Leroy: This is very expressive and fragrant on the nose. Still fresh and intense on both the nose and palate, this lively wine speaks of this brilliant white Burgundy vintage – and is only just entering its drinking window. It offers such a complete set of aromas from the rich, ripe notes of fresh fruit to more herbal, citrus notes, all driven by brilliant acidity and a hint of bitterness. Lovely – and one of our favourite whites in the collection this year.

2010 Chassagne-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Morgeot, Maison Leroy: This Morgeot has such a lovely nose, offering a mix of sweet apple and honey-flavoured candies. It is concentrated and powerful on the nose, mature yet still has a lot to say. On the palate, the acidity is striking from the moment the wine touches your tongue. It opens with fresh, mineral, crystalline notes, but this is immediately followed by a wave of ripe yellow fruit, and then some sweet spice which lifts the wine on towards its persistent finish. This is beautiful now and should stay in this zone for another five to seven years.

1979 Puligny-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Les Pucelles, Maison Leroy: With a beautiful golden colour, this is so impressive on the nose, with so much going on: honey, beeswax, frangipane, creamy and lactic notes, candied orange peel, crystallised fruit, it just keeps delivering on the nose. The palate seems a bit muted by comparison, when tasted just after opening – but after an hour or so you’ll find the same level of density and richness here too. All those aromas mingle together and melt into each other, yet there is a sense of harmony, with beautiful acidity throughout. The wine feels like there are so many layers and strands to it, but it is also so complete. Towards the finish, there is a certain salinity that drives the length of the wine, alongside those honeysuckle notes. A real delight that is approaching its prime though still has a lot to say! Drink now through to 2035.

The 2024 Maison Leroy collection will be released soon, sign up to find out more, or read more about Maison Leroy and browse all current listings 


Corentin-Margier 200x200px
Corentin Margier
Our Buying + Partner Director Corentin Margier grew up with wine, coming from the Rhône Valley. He worked originally in hospitality, including at Alain Ducasse, before moving into the wine trade and joining FINE+RARE in 2015.