Product information

Benjamin Leroux Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2021

Pinot Noir from Gevrey-Chambertin, Côte-de-Nuits

$1,085

Closure: Cork

Description

Leroux’s Charmes-Chambertin is traditionally drawn from 0.15 hectares of vines planted in 1965. Leroux’s historic source is situated in Mazoyères-Dessus, the favoured, top part of this vineyard, near Combottes and the Grand Cru Latricières-Chambertin. This year sees the addition of a parcel of fruit from Charmes-Chambertin proper, so it’s a blend of both sections of the vineyard. As per last year, the 2021 fermented with one-third whole bunches. Tasted from barrel, it’s an extremely stylish Grand Cru, both deep and elegant, with marvellous perfume, length and powdery structure.


“Fine bright purple, with some sensuality to the bouquet., though not so much detail showing. The Charmes style of raspberries and cream shows up more behind. Fair length.” 

Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy 91-94 Points


“The 2021 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru has a wonderful bouquet with fragrant red cherry and crushed strawberry scents. It’s floral, sensual and much more vivacious than, say, the Bonnes-Mares. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannins. It’s very elegant in style and poised, with ample weight on the finish. This is an enticing Charmes-Chambertin that should give a couple of decades’ drinking pleasure.”

Neal Martin, Vinous 93-95 Points


“This is a combination of Charmes and Mazoyères fruits, and it is a forward, fruit-driven wine. Black cherries lace with bold spice and a whiff of cocoa. While the aroma profile is graciously Charmes, there is underlying fruit power and dense structure led by grainy tannins. Best not to open this for a few years.” 

Christy Canterbury MW, Tim Atkin Burgundy Report 2021 94 Points

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Check out all of the wines by Domaine Benjamin Leroux

Why is this Wine so Yummy?

Benjamin’s a fascinating character to follow. Every vintage his experience with the different villages and plots he sources fruit from grows. Winemaking is a gamble, every year you roll the dice and use knowledge gleaned over time to harness what nature has presented you in the form of grapes. Ben’s always has lovely touch and it’s showed from day 1 in the Côtes du Beaune.

Over the last couple of years Ben’s touch has extended from the Côtes du Beaune to the Côtes du Nuits. Each year I find the pleasure derived from both Côtes getting closer & closer to one and other.

Explore the Epic Line-Up & Enjoy!


Turns out Ben is good mates with Alex Moreau who I’ve spent a fair bit of time with in Australia and Burgundy. So much so he’s Godfather to Tom, Alex’s son!

I spent some time with Ben a couple of years ago. His high profile has not taken his head from the earth. He’s well and truly connected to the ground, both, by feet and focus. It was fascinating to hear him talk of the experiments he runs, the main influences on his winemaking over the past 10-15 years, his plans for the future, and, of course, the background to each the wines we tried. We recorded the audio for the session and share it in several podcasts below.

WINE DECODED · Benjamin Leroux Vintage 2016 with Wine Decoded

How to drink wine with Benjamin Leroux!

About Benjamin Leroux

“You may remember that when I asked Allen Meadows, aka Burghound, on this video who he thought might be a natural heir to the late great Henri Jayer of Burgundy, one of the two people he cited was young Benjamin Leroux of Domaine Comte Armand.”

Jancis Robinson

“Leroux’s passion, ambition and sheer talent have already resulted in a number of stunning, beautiful wines, but my sense is that the best is yet to come.”

The Wine Advocate

Benjamin Leroux is widely considered to be one of the most gifted and knowledgeable wine growers in all the Côte d’Or. Born and bred in Beaune, Leroux has always been considered a prodigy, studying at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune from age 15 and taking the reins at the esteemed Domaine Comte Armand when he was just 24. Leroux would stay at Comte Armand for fifteen vintages, while simultaneously launching his eponymous négociant operation in 2007.

In 2014 Leroux left Comte Armand—in great shape, we might add—to concentrate on his young venture. The first stage of his evolution allowed him to establish the winery (in the old Jaboulet-Vercherre premises off the Beaune périphérique) and refine his ideas and understanding of the terroirs with which he wanted to work. The way Leroux structured this side of his business was highly innovative. His aim was to create the same quality standards of the finest domaines, despite not owning most of the vineyards. He has long-term relationships with the growers he works with, some of which he pays by land area rather than the quantity of fruit harvested. This allows him to dictate lower yields, ripeness, date of harvest, and so on. He only works with high-quality growers who plough or do not use herbicides or pesticides. Most are organic or biodynamic. For those that are not, there is an understanding that they will move to organics over five years.

Leroux’s knowledge of the Côte is encyclopaedic, and he has unearthed some very exciting, previously less well-known terroirs for his portfolio. It’s important not to underestimate how close Leroux works with these growers, as that is one of the keys to his ability to coax the finest fruit quality from the vineyards. He never buys juice or finished wine, only fruit; he nominates the harvest dates and will pick himself if necessary.

“He certainly has the gift of touch that seems to elevate everything from village crus to grand crus.”

Neal Martin, Vinous

In tandem with his excelling négociant business, Leroux has quietly been building up his family’s impressive domaine holdings, which now run to eight hectares. Though he worked these vineyards organically and biodynamically from the beginning, it took him several years to apply for organic certification, which came in 2016. Ben’s first vineyard purchase was a 0.16-hectare slice of Batard-Montrachet in 2009, though most of Leroux’s white vineyards lie in Meursault and include crown jewel parcels in Genevrières-Dessus and Charmes-Dessus. For the reds he farms his beloved Blagny 1er Cru La Pièce Sous le Bois, in Volnay Santenots and there are a number of small parcels in Vosne-Romanée.

In the Winery

For coming on 20 years, this has been one of the most dynamic cellars on the Côte in terms of winemaking. Leroux works with some 50 appellations and every wine has its own bespoke treatment according to the conditions of each vintage. This makes it difficult—and sometimes misleading—to try and generalise about the winemaking. We can say that the cellar is using more and more 600-litre, 1200-litre, and even larger casks for the whites, and more and more 450-litre to 600-litre barrels for the reds. It is also becoming moot to talk of new oak, of which so little is now used (especially for the whites). Likewise, to generalise about Leroux’s winemaking decisions, such as using whole bunches, is like trying to hit a moving target: in any given year, Leroux works with between 0% and 70-80%!

Since 2018, Leroux has used a cold room to preserve bunches overnight, at under 13°C, resulting in a cool, slow start to fermentation.

Every year this thoughtful and precise grower keeps hitting a higher bar, continually adapting to each vintage and the ever-changing climate. He remains one of the most talented and learned winegrowers in Burgundy, and although he can release as many as fifty different wines in any given year, they are all at an astonishingly high standard. Indeed, don’t be misled by the number of wines he offers. His smallest parcel is 0.06 hectares, and many of his sites are not much bigger: most wines are produced in the one-to-five-barrel range

Throughout the video below, and the podcast with Levi Dalton, Ben explores many aspects of his winemaking. One rule reigns supreme it’s all judged by taste, what’s in the glass. Whether it’s use of large wood, stalks, or whole berries he’s constantly experimenting to find ways to evolve.

Benjamin 🎧 spoke with Levi Dalton about the changes that have occurred to winemaking in Burgundy. Enjoy!

The 2021 Vintage at Leroux

From the Importer:

2021 was a cool, low-yielding vintage (yes, another one!) that produced a range of vibrant, classical wines with great freshness and finesse. Despite the low yields, it was a late September harvest—a rare occurrence these days. Leroux started on 18th September in Bâtard-Montrachet, and finished on 1st October with the Aligoté.

Frost (mainly), along with hail, were the main culprits in reducing yields, but there was also the impact of downy and powdery mildew. Leroux was down some 40% in general, with things being the most depressing in the Côte de Beaune. Here, his estate parcels in Meursault delivered only 9-12 hl/ha, he lost two-thirds of his Premier Cru sources and produced no Chassagne Premiers Crus at all! In Auxey-Duresses, where Leroux produces seven to eight thousand litres in a typical year, he only got 600 litres! Fortunately, the picture in the Côte de Nuits was much brighter. Leroux’s parcels in Vosne-Romanée were hardly affected and he made a similar quantity to 2020, while Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits-Saint-George also escaped lightly compared with the south.

As for the style of the wines, Leroux is delighted with the way they turned out—as were we when we tasted last year. To generalise, the whites are terrific: bright, perfumed and expressive of terroir. The reds are supple, sensual and perfumed. It’s a great ‘restaurant vintage’ in that the wines are immediately appealing and delicious to drink young. Yet in both colours there are exceptions with some wines surprising with their richness. How the 2021s will age is up for grabs, (some will surprise), but there’s no question that these are wines that already offer great drinkability. You could compare them with the best ‘07s or ‘00s in terms of weight, but they have their own distinct style. Regardless of comparisons, Benjamin Leroux has excelled once again. When the growing gets tough…

From Burghound:

Benjamin Leroux described 2021 as a “vintage that produced wines in a style that we haven’t seen recently as it’s entirely classic. The season obviously was difficult though for my wines, the frost wasn’t as bad as it was in 2016, at least in terms of losses. It was though highly variable as Blagny was absolutely destroyed in white yet did much much better in red. Not surprisingly, the Côte de Beaune was more affected than the Côte de Nuits given that it’s more precocious with an earlier budbreak. After that, we had a lot of disease pressure to deal with but for the pinot, we had about the same number of treatments that we usually do. With that said, the season was viticulturally quite challenging yet the vinifications were easy.

With respect to the whites, he noted that he used no new wood for the élevage and that potential alcohols came in between 12.5 and 13% so there was no chaptalization. Leroux pointed out that he uses the Diam brand composite cork for all his whites (except for magnums) and bottles with 20 ppm of free sulfur.

The pinot came in mostly between 12.4 and 12.8% and I chose to pretty much not touch them beyond a chaptalization of .2%. I used between 10 and 70% whole clusters while using the lower end of the range for the Côte de Beaune and more in the Côte de Nuits. One exigency though was to be sure that I was working with the cleanest lees possible, so I did a heavy lees settling regimen and this was true for both colors. I’m far from the most experienced vigneron around but I have seen a fair number of vintages and you just never know. I say this because I honestly thought we would make terrible wines but in fact, not at all; in fact, I’m really quite pleased with the quality.” I found much to like among Leroux’s 2021s, and in both colors, so they’re worth strongly considering.

From Vinous:

“The 2021 vintage started with a mild winter, so vines started to move in March, which is now normal. So, bud burst was early in March when it was warm. What we feared happened. We had four nights of frost in a row with snow on the second night, which is impossible to fight against. We didn’t have enough candles for that length of time, so we used them to protect the Premier and Grand Cru. The snow did the real damage. Maybe in the future we will have to raise the level of the buds from the ground. We knew it would be a small crop in the beginning. It was a tough season. Those parcels that didn’t suffer frost grew normally, so there were kind of two vintages in one. When you have frost, you have to think about the next pruning in the following year. It was heaps of work. In June, it was a bit wet though the vines affected by frost were sensitive to oïdium that translated into more sprays, all organic here. We did three additional sprays and still managed to keep it to a low level.”

“The key was to not give up – it was as much about protecting 2022, to get the buds in the best condition to avoid the stress of the frost and keep the embryo inside the bud for the next year. It was constant work, seven days a week, spraying on shorter cycles, plus there was COVID in the background, so recruiting a bigger team was slower than normal. We started picking on 18 September in Bâtard-Montrachet and finished on 1 October with the Aligoté. Most of the whites were picked 23-27 September. There was just a bit of botrytis, but it was not dramatic. You cannot pick everything going down the row of vines, you have to laboriously look for the bunch, which takes time. We sorted the whites. When you have a small crop, you tend to save every grape, but in 2021, you had to sort the fruit, and we discarded around 10% of the white and red, including the lees.”

“It was difficult to ferment with such small volumes. We had more aging in regular pièce and 600-liters this year with no new oak. It’s a big surprise, the 2021. The lees were not looking great, so we used a minimum. That has paid off in the end. The reds were late down into barrel, and the barrel maturation is on just three to four liters of lees. The malolactic fermentations were late, and some cuvées did not finish until summer 2022. But as soon as they started becoming wines, I found that they had life and vibrancy. That was something I was not expecting from Bourgogne to Grand Cru. The reds are super stable, and I’m sure they’ll have a good life in bottle.”

Where in the World is Benjamin Leroux?

Leroux has parcels across both Côtes, making wines from Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Auxey-Duresses, Savigny, Volnay, Pommard, Corton, Beaune, Vosne, Chambolle, Morey & Gevrey. He’ll almost certainly expand the list over time.

Click to enlarge🔎
Click to enlarge 🔎
91-94 Points

“Fine bright purple, with some sensuality to the bouquet., though not so much detail showing. The Charmes style of raspberries and cream shows up more behind. Fair length.” 

Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy

93-95 Points

“The 2021 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru has a wonderful bouquet with fragrant red cherry and crushed strawberry scents. It's floral, sensual and much more vivacious than, say, the Bonnes-Mares. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannins. It's very elegant in style and poised, with ample weight on the finish. This is an enticing Charmes-Chambertin that should give a couple of decades' drinking pleasure.” 

Neal Martin, Vinous

94 Points

“This is a combination of Charmes and Mazoyères fruits, and it is a forward, fruit-driven wine. Black cherries lace with bold spice and a whiff of cocoa. While the aroma profile is graciously Charmes, there is underlying fruit power and dense structure led by grainy tannins. Best not to open this for a few years.” 

Christy Canterbury MW, Tim Atkin Burgundy Report 2021

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Gevrey Chambertin

Gevrey-Chambertin
Côte-de-Nuits