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We grabbed a few extra bottles of 2015 these are now available in the Shop. See what’s left.

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Ben this week tasting through a range of his 2016’s with a couple of 2014’s in the mix. Turns out he’s good mates with Alex Moreau who I’ve spent a fair bit of time within Australia and Burgundy. So much so he’s Godfather to Tom, Alex’s son!

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.

How to drink wine with Benjamin Leroux!

A Review of the 2016 Vintage for Benjamin Leroux

When you hear of the how widespread the frosts of 2016 were, it’s a surprise that any wine made it into bottle at all! While some areas remained untouched, many saw production drop to just 15% of normal. There are some good and bad consequences for us, the bad being, there is not much wine to go around, the good being that many sites were declassified, not for lack of quality, simply because there was insufficient wine to firstly make the wine practically, remembering this is a region that often makes only a barrel or two of a particular wine, secondly there wasn’t sufficient volume to justify an individual bottling.

It was simply not feasible to make most of the Grand Cru’s. Chambertin was hit particularly hard by the frosts.

Of the wines tasted, Leroux certainly seems more comfortable in the Côtes de Beaune. His whites show more harmony and refinement than his reds at this early stage, just post-bottling. It will be interesting to watch these wines evolve and see how they pull together.

I’ll be intrigued to see how Ben’s understanding of the different appellation and vineyards evolves over time. Moving from making 6 wines, only red for much of the time to near 50 is a considerable undertaking. With the minuscule quantities made of some wines, it is difficult to conduct many experiments, perhaps, slowing the evolution of styles.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to look at the 1er Cru’s from Côtes de Nuits, or the Grand Crus other than the Clos-Saint-Denis. Understandable given the price and volume of many of these!

The Podcasts

Intro

Vintage backgound, winemaking consequences to achieve harmony, changes for the negociant.

Whites I – 2016 Bourgogne Blanc, Auxey-Duresses, Puligny-Montrachet and Mersault

The wines, different barrel formats, lees stirring, oxidation, PremOx and, bottling.

Whites II – 2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines, 1er Cru Les Embazées, &, 1er Cru Tȇte du Clos

Exploring Chassagne-Montrachet, the history behind 1er Cru Tȇte du Clos (similar soil profile to Chevalier-Montrachet), and, Morgeot. The stylistic impact of frost on whites in Burgundy. Embazées great stand alone, Baudines needing food, longer lived, edge of phenolics. The difference between seeing the land as an asset and a lifestyle.

Reds I -2016 Bourgogne Rouge, 2014 Savigny-lès-Beaune, 2016 Savigny-lès-Beaune, 2016 Pommard

Vintage impact on the reds. Loads of 1er Cru in the village wines. Destemming techniques. Wild fermentation. Impacts of stalks. 1/3 1er Cru in the 2016 Savigny. Cork vs Diam vs Screwcap. Shift to using big oak, foudre. The history of the 228L Burgundy barrel. Modern vs Traditional. Élévage. Climate change. 2/3 1er Cru in the Village Pommard.

Experience across varieties, villages, and, influence on winemaking

At Comte Armand, Ben only made 6 wines all Pinot. There was a period where they made some whites. His exposure to a vast number of villages and parcels has accelerated his experience. Remember winemakers rate of learning is limited by only having a one shot a year at making wine. Compare this to my experience where we had 28 grape varieties from one site and Yering Station where we had a dozen varieties from dozens of sites across the entire Yarra Valley, an area roughly 50 times the size of the main quality producing area of Burgundy!

Reds II – 2016 Volnay, 2014 Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans, 2016 Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans, 2016 Volnay 1er Clos de la Cave du Ducs (monopole)

Young vine Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans went into the Volnay. 14 drinking well now. 2016 Tightly wound. Clos de la Cave du Ducs is an excellent wine. Discussion of Aligoté and it’s potential. It always reminds me of doing vintage at Domaine Bernard-Moreau, drinking it at the end of the day as a Kir, mixed with Cassis. Discussion of Saint-Romain appelation.

Reds III – 2016 Morey-Saint-Denis, 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin, 2016 Vosne-Romanée, 2016 Clos Saint-Denis

Exploration of Côte de Nuits, changes in barrel sizes and use.

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.”  Wine Advocate # 194 May 2011

“I have never heard a more articulate and insightful presentation.” James Halliday on the Leroux 2008s Masterclass with Benjamin Leroux, The Australian, 11th September 2010.

Benjamin Leroux, previously manager/winemaker of Domaine Comte Armand launched his own label with the 2007 vintage. He works from a brand new winery in the centre of Beaune (just off the Boulevard) that he shares with Dominique Lafon and two other wine growers. The operation is very small and will eventually specialise, primarily, in Puligny and Volnay, but with many other appellations also covered. While there are over twenty terroirs produced, this is certainly a ‘micro negociant’ operation with only two to five barrels made of most of the cuvées. Leroux works with vineyards he manages, vineyards he owns and also buys fruit (never juice or wine) from growers with who he can work closely; growers that produce the quality of fruit to match Leroux’s exacting standards.

Leroux’s vision has always been to build an Estate and to this end he has already started buying vineyards. The first stage of his evolution, however, has been to establish the micro negociant business: a phase that has allowed him to establish a winery and refine his ideas and his understanding of the terroirs with which he wants to work. The way Leroux has structured this side of his business is highly innovative. His aim has been 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 that he works with, some of which he pays by the area of land 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 a five-year period. Leroux’s knowledge of the Côte is encyclopedic and he has been able to unearth some very interesting, previously hardly known sources for his portfolio. It’s important not to underestimate how close Leroux works these growers as that is one of the keys to his ability to coax the finest fruit quality from the vineyards.

A total of 120 barrels were produced in his first vintage, 2007 and some of the cuvees offered had already been produced by Leroux for a number of years at Comte Armand. These wines have now come across to the Benjamin Leroux label. Leroux is considered one of the most gifted and knowledgeable wine growers in all of the Côte d’Or.

Leroux is considered one of the most gifted and knowledgeable wine growers in all of the Côte d’Or. It only suffices to ask any other serious producer about Leroux to realize the respect he has garnered amongst his colleagues in the region. He was always considered a prodigy, studying at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune from the age of 13 and taking the reins at the esteemed Domaine Comte Armand when he was only 26. Leroux’s success with the Domaine’s wines over the last decade has well justified the decision to appoint such a young man to run the show. He continued to manage Comte Armand until 2014, despite now having his own range of wines (another sign of how well respected he is). While his range includes many famous terroirs, Leroux is determined only to work with vineyards that have been well managed and produce outstanding fruit, regardless of whether or not they have famous names. This makes sense, Leroux’s knowledge of Burgundy’s countless terroirs runs deep and producers like him are waking up the wine world to the fact that the reputation of many Côte d’Or vineyards has as much to do with the producers who work them than any intrinsic qualities of the sites themselves.

*Stocks of the Grand Crus and Premier Crus are extremely limited. First come, first served. Wines are available for immediate delivery.

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About the Wines

The Whites (all 750ml format white under Stelvin Lux)

2016 Benjamin Leroux Bourgogne Aligoté

New cuvée. Killing two birds with one stone, Burgundy style. This year Benjamin took on a parcel of 1oo year old, goblet pruned Aligoté Doré – the high-quality, low yielding cultivar in Bouzeron (Côte Chalonnaise). The wine was finished in stainless steel before bottling. Leroux has considerable pedigree with this variety, as followers of Domaine Comte Armand will no doubt attest.

86 points

The 2016 Bourgogne Aligoté is a new addition to the range and comes from old vines. Benjamin had a lot of empty barrels and so he thought it would be a good opportunity to “park” some Aligoté instead of risking the barrels drying out and becoming unclean. It has a light perfumed bouquet with dried honey and tangerine notes. The palate is balanced with a smooth opening, a touch of spice and a brisk, slightly saline finish. This is a fine debut.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Bourgogne Blanc

A real mélange of sources this year, Leroux’s estate parcels in Les Millerands, Sous la Velle (both in Mersault) and les belles Côtes are joined by fruit from Puligny and the Hautes-Côtes. There’s also a parcel of Vosne-Romanée Bourgogne level in the mix. Raised in 1,200L foudre and some 300L barrels.

Playful

Playful, fun wine, florals and musk lend complexity to mid-weight and length of fruit. Beautifully layered and harmonious.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

85 Points

Bottled in mid-October and aged in 12-hectoliter foudres (10% new), the 2016 Bourgogne Blanc has a strict, slightly earthy bouquet. The palate is soft and generous on the entry, perhaps just missing a little tension in the middle with a slightly waxy-textured finish. Drink over the next two or three years.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

White Villages

2016 Benjamin Leroux Auxey-Duresses

Leroux’s Auxey-Duresses vineyards lie below the village, abutting the Meursault Villages Les Vireuils Dessus and Les Meix Chavaux. The land here is north-facing and is therefore affected by the cold air rolling down from the Hautes-Côtes. The wine comes from three terroirs in this cool, mineral (rocky) place – Les Hautés, La Macabrée and Les Boutonniers. The oldest vines date back to 1946, planted just after the war. With a relatively generous 2 hectares to work with, Auxey-Duresses has become a principal wine for Leroux. This was vinified in 1,200L and 300L barrels.

Perfumed

There's an immediate increase in depth and length as would be expected, fuller and richer. Spiced, savoury, with a fine lick of oak, beautiful acid and perfume.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

87-89 Points

The 2016 Auxey Duresses Blanc comes mostly from the Meursault side of the appellation. It has quite a concentrated bouquet with a tincture of yellow flowers infusing the citrus fruit, later hazelnut developing with time. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, harmonious and poised with just a tang of spice on the finish.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Saint-Romain Sous le Château

Leroux’s Saint-Romain hails from a 0.5-hectare parcel in the lieu-dit of Sous le Château. Organically farmed, there are in fact two parcels with 20 and 60 year old vines. The stony, rugged soils here are typical of Saint-Romain’s terroir, yet the site is also well protected from the northern winds and the plethora of stones on the surface radiate heat. It is therefore a warm terroir in the context of the village, and hence escaped the spring frosts in 2016. Vinification was half in foudres and half in 300-litre barrels.

89-91 points

Light yellow. Ripe stone fruits as well as an obvious element of smoky oak on the nose. Attractively supple, dry, musky wine with lovely lemony lift and cut and a suggestion of hazelnut reduction. This very savory, well-delineated wine finishes with a firm mineral spine and very good length. The crop was normal here, noted Leroux, while the Auxey-Duresses got a bit of frost.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Meursault

2016 marks the third vintage of the ‘Estate’ Meursault, exclusively from Benjamin Leroux vineyards. It comes from a range of lieux-dits – Les Millerands, Bois de Blagny, Les Criots and Au Moulin Landin – which combine for a total of 1.6 hectares. The oldest vines again date back to 1944, and the high elevation of Leroux’s terroirs make for a particularly tightly wound mineral wine. Only 15% of this saw new oak and the viticulture across the parcels is now biodynamic. Yields were just 500L per hectare. 3,500 is considered low!

Feminine

There's a beautiful fine line and length to the Mersaulty, elegant and poised, with a floral, perfumed sent and a splash of earthiness.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

87-89 Points

The 2016 Meursault Villages is a mix of frosted and non-frosted vineyards, around half and half in terms of volume according to Leroux. It has a conservative bouquet, quite stony and Puligny-like in style. The palate is well balanced and shows more vivacity and energy than the aromatics at this point: subtle orange zest and fresh lemon notes with a pretty finish. If the nose improves, this will deserve a higher score.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Meursault Narvaux

Narvaux is another of Meursault’s highest vineyards, sitting above the 1er cru Les Genevrières. This comes from 0.10-hectares in a clos at the top of the vineyard (Narvaux Dessus) so it could be labelled Clos de Narvaux. This parcel is right next to Dominique Lafon’s vines and was planted in 1975. The soils have plenty of limestone and also iron oxide, the latter giving the soil a reddish tinge. It’s a beautifully managed vineyard, with all the work by hand without aid of a tractor, by a 76-year-old vigneron. The wine from here is round and textural – Clos de Narvaux has very shallow soils and a southerly aspect, which promote both low yields and excellent ripening. Yet the minerality is equally intense. There is also around 5% of Chardonnay Muscaté in the blend. In 2015 Leroux vinified only a single (used) barrel of this cuvée. It’s a super vibrant wine packed with citrus and grapefruit and a precise, tapering finish. “Outstanding” just about covers it.

90-92 points

Bright medium yellow. Exuberant soft citrus aromas hint at more exotic fruits. A generous fruit bomb featuring orange zest and spice flavors, with captivating elements of sweetness and salinity. Boasts excellent palate presence without coming off as heavy. Finishes with firm-edged minerality and good spicy length and cut.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Puligny-Montrachet

The Clos du Château and the high-grown Le Trézin, were so heavily frosted that no fruit came from them in 2016. Fruit came from lieu-dit Corvée des Vignes and Les Reuchaux, on the Mersault side of Puligny. Across the parcels, the vines now average 40 years old. The Puligny was raised in mostly 300 litre barrels (25% new).

Vibrant

Lovely élévage, the wine is together, beautiful, rich, balanced with great harmony, poise and a substantial increase in depth of fruit. A lick of spiced oak is layered in. Lovely linearity of acid.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

87-89 points

This was the first 2016 white to finish its malo: Light-medium yellow. Very ripe, almost candied peach on the nose, plus a whiff of banana. A distinctly glyceral, opulent style, quite full but rather exotic: I feel more warmth today than actual fruit intensity. Finishes full but slightly aggressive. The alcohol here is a moderate 12.8%, without chaptalization. Leroux noted that the frost here was "like a green harvest; we still produced 45 hectoliters per hectare.

White Premiers Crus

2016 Benjamin Leroux Meursault 1er Cru Les Porusots

Leroux’s wine from this small 1er Cru comes from a 0.30 hectare, organically-managed parcel in the Porusots Dessus, the section of the vineyard bordering Genevrières. Wines from this vineyard can also be bottled as Poruzots. It’s an east-facing site with very little topsoil. Most of the fruit comes from a parcel of 1930 vines that produce tiny, concentrated berries. The rest comes from 25 year old vines. This is a site that is known for producing layered and earthy Meursault (see Germain & Jobard) and Leroux’s example is typically one of his most intensely mineral whites. Owing to the frost, Leroux’s vines squeezed out just a single, used, 300-litre barrel of this wine (as opposed to five barrels in a normal year).

90-92 points

Less exuberant on the nose than the Blagny La Pièce Sous Le Bois, perhaps tightened by the frost influence, hinting at orange juice, menthol, spices and minerals. Then fat and sweet in the mid-palate, showing more spices and herbs than fruit today. Turns tight, dry and seriously saline on the back end, chewy but not heavy. This very promising wine will require a couple years of bottle aging to absorb its dusty edge.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières Dessous

Few will need reminding that Les Genevrières is one of Meursault’s greatest terroirs, arguably the finest after Les Perrières. This is drawn from two old vine parcels – accounting for a single hectare – in the gravelly limestone of lower Genevrières (Dessous). Picked on the 19th September, Genevrières was Leroux’s first pick in 2016 and was raised with less than 20% new oak.

91-93 Points

Bright light yellow. Orange peel and crushed stone aromas are lifted by an inviting floral element; these vines were picked on September 23, the first day of the harvest here. Very ripe, fat wine with a touch of sweetness and a faint youthful aggressiveness to its soft citrus and apricot flavors. A bit dry toward the end but boasts lovely length. This premier cru has considerable fat without coming off as heavy, and the supporting alcohol for structure.

91-93 Points

The 2016 Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières Dessous comes from a hectare of vines. It has a crisp, well-defined, quite nutty bouquet with hints of nutmeg and smoke developing with aeration. The palate is well balanced with quite an intense opening. This is quite a powerful Genevrières and though it lacks the persistence and delineation of a great vintage, there is a sense of depth and breeding. This is one to watch.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot

The Abbaye de Morgeot vineyard is situated in the southern part of the Morgeot 1er Cru. Morgeot, like many of the larger sites of the Côte d’Or, is in fact a collection of smaller terroirs. Some of these are richer in clay and were historically planted to red grapes. The lime-rich soils of the Abbaye de Morgeot lieu-dit, like Tête du Clos and Fairendes, was always known as a white wine site and it continues to produce deep, layered yet very mineral expressions of Morgeot, hence the separate labelling. It has a soil of limestone and marl (chalky clay) with a reddish tinge, due to the presence of some iron in its soil. Leroux’s 0.5-hectare parcel was planted in 1969, and from yields of 8 hl/ha, there are only two barrels of the 2016, instead of the usual ten. Accordingly, no new oak was used.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines

The 3.60-hectare Les Baudines vineyard sits up high on the slope, near the tree line on the south-western border of Chassagne. It’s naturally a very cool site with mostly white clay soils and offers a terroir that perfectly suits Leroux’s desire to produce cool, fine-boned Chassagne. From vines planted around 1980.

Textured Bold

Of Embazées and Baudines, the Baudines is definitely the bolder wine. It shows a greater textural element with phenolics, balancing a lovely core of fruit, savoury and spicey flavours. A little grip at the back of the palate matches a wine of great length

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

91-94 points

Bright medium yellow. Lemon, pear and white flowers on the ripe nose. At once thick and savory, conveying terrific texture to its almost honeyed stone fruit flavors lifted by flowers. Finishes with a slowly building whiplash of flavor. Leroux used just one-third one-year-old barrels, and the rest older, explaining that Baudines is a cooler site and he "didn't want to kill the floral character with wood.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embazées

Another of Chassagne’s lesser-known gems being explored by Leroux, Embazées can also be bottled under the Bois de Chassagne name but is typically labelled as Embrazées, even though the correct name on the map is Embazées, without the ‘r’. This site sits right on the south-western border of Chassagne above Tête du Clos and just below Les Baudines. So it is a terrific terroir with shallow top soil that is full of limestone pebbles. Leroux works with just 0.28-hectares planted around 1980. Both this wine and Les Baudines were vinified with 15-20% new oak.

Supple Floral

The harmony of this wine makes it incredibly approachable. Supple with lovely mineral acids, it's the kind of wine you can just crack and hoover. Perfumed and floral.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

91-93 Points

Bright medium yellow. Deeply pitched nose currently dominated by clove spice. The palate boasts lovely extract thickness, offering concentrated, saline flavors of lemon and wild herbs, plus some smoky influence from the oak. Finishes firm-edged, with a late suggestion of licorice. Serious juice.

Stephen Tanzer, vinous.com

2016 Benjamin Leroux Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Tête du Clos

Tête du Clos, another sub-climat of Morgeot, lies at the apex of the vineyard where the soil is very rocky, with white clay and plenty of limestone on the surface. It’s about the same altitude as Les Embazées, but it showcases a completely different expression of Chassagne – both richer and more mineral. Leroux’s old-vine parcel (0.4-hectares planted in 1955) produces small, concentrated clusters and the resulting power means that it sees a tad more new oak (25%) than the preceding Chassagnes. Here you have genuine depth of fruit combined with intense earthy minerality. This is so typical of this site (la Romanée as well). A “baby grand cru” as Ben calls it. Intense, mixed stone fruit and citrus peel, shot through with intense spice and chalky notes. Class and power. 

Nearly GC

Excellent length and depth of fruit. A powerfull, rich Chardonnay, yet refined long, pure and harmonious. The mid-palate weight, sign of a great Chardonnay is there in spades. Lovely expression with intrigue and poise.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

92-94 Points

Musky, noble reduction to the aromas of pear, minerals and flowers. At once thick and juicy, boasting lovely concentration and clarity to its soil-driven flavors of stone fruits and saline, rocky minerals. Tight in the middle at present but this fine-grained wine broadens out on the very long, glistening, palate-saturating back end. Leroux told me he made between 25 and 30 hectoliters per hectare from these very old vines, which he noted is the normal yield here.

White Grand Crus

2016 Benjamin Leroux Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

Leroux’s Corton Charlie comes from a postage stamp 0.12-hectares plot in En Charlemagne on the Pernand side of the hill, where the vines were planted in the late ’70s. Two barrels out of four were new. This looked terrific in barrel and is particularly good value for GC level.

89-91 Points

The 2016 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru was sporting a small reduction on the nose though there is plenty of fruit underneath. The palate is quite powerful and voluminous, waxy in texture with a touch of orange rind on the slightly short finish. Not bad at all, although I found that it was surpassed by several of Benjamin's premier crus.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru MAGNUM ONLY

Only two and a half barrels were made here in 2016 (from 0.16 hectares) and we are very grateful for the tiny allocation that made its way to Australia. It comes from a brilliantly located plot of 40 year old vines, right next to the Hospices de Beaune’s parcel and directly opposite DRC’s Le Montrachet. This site is now owned by Leroux (he gained full control of the vineyard management in 2016). He has recently had the original stone entrance restored so it’s quite easy to find his plot if you’re ever driving the boundary between Bâtard and Le Montrachet. Even with the majesty of the fruit here, only one of the two full barrels was new. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s majestic, rare and in magnum only.

92-95 Points

Following an early malolactic fermentation, Leroux is intentionally keeping this wine reductive, describing this as "the Coche technique": Very reduced aromas of smoke, minerals and clove. Fat, smoky, salty wine with terrific pliancy and depth. A bit lower-toned than some of these 2016s but large-scaled, strong and in need of time in bottle. Musky, smoky and very long, finishing with a touch of nutty oak. Leroux has just 2-1/2 barrels of this juice, including a new 350-liter cask. The Corton-Charlemagne had just been racked and moved upstairs and was unavailable for tasting.

The Reds (all wines under cork unless stated)

2016 Benjamin Leroux Bourgogne Rouge

A blend of Santenay villages and Santenay 1er cru Commes Beaune 1er Cru les Cent-Vignes, Monthelie (villages and 1er Cru), Saint-Roman, Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and a little estate Bourgogne Pinot vines in Pommard. This cuvée is now being raised in 5,000L Grenier cask, a vessel so large that it has to be assembled in the cellar. There is no new oak and the grapes for the wine were entirely destemmed.

Fun

Like the Bourgogne Blanc, the Rouge is a playful fun wine. Vibrant sour cheery, juicy acid and a pretty perfume all come together beautifully.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

89 Points

Bright medium red. Lively perfume of raspberry, blood orange and flowers. Very pretty, leanish wine with excellent intensity and definition to its flavors of red fruits and flowers. This delightful Bourgogne includes a lot of Beaune villages and premier cru fruit, as production in these vineyards was too tiny to merit separate bottlings.

88 Points

The 2016 Bourgogne Rouge was aged in wooden tank, bottled mid-October and includes a potpourri of vineyards from here, there and everywhere that had been frosted. This has a delightful bouquet with vivid red cherry and strawberry fruit that is well defined and probably more like a village cru. The palate is medium-bodied with fresh red berry fruit mixed with bay leaf and a touch of black tea. I was smitten by this modest generic red and I bet it will be good value for money.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

Red Villages

2016 Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune

As per his Puligny cuvée, Leroux’s aim here is to craft a wine that reflects both the commune and the vintage overall. To this end he sources fruit from a range of exposures and soil types. With just 3 barrels, normally 12, of Hauts Jarrons 1er Cru the entire production was declassified into this Savigny for a total of 9 barrels. Fruit was fully destemmed with next to no new oak employed.

Brooding

The 2016 Village and above reds are still, as expected, looking raw and disjointed. Yet the structure and quality of tannins remains evident, with lovely flavours waiting to jump out.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

89 Points

♥ Outstanding. Top Value. There is enough reduction to suppress the underlying fruit though there is very good density to the subtle mineral-inflected flavors that deliver excellent length for a villages level wine on the balanced if mildly rustic finish. Very good quality here and the influence of the 1er is evident. Note that I would suggest decanting this if you're going to open a bottle young.

Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 70

90-92 Points

The 2016 Savigny-lès-Beaune Village… has a well-defined, black cherry and raspberry preserve-scented bouquet tinged with sous bois and undergrowth scents. The palate is very well balanced with fine tannin, perfectly judged acidity, bright red and blue fruit with great precision toward the finish. Superb. Forget the modest status indicated on the label because there is a serious wine here.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Volnay

The 2016 harvest offered up yet another miserly crop for Leroux’s Volnay villages. As in 2015, only five barrels were made. Quality, however, is off the charts—not least because around 80% of the wine is actually declassified 1er Cru! The 2016 is made up of four barrels of 1er Cru (younger vine Les Mitans and Les Santenots) married with one barrel of Volnay villages (from the La Gigotte terroir). Across the blend, one barrel of the five was new and Leroux utilised 20% whole bunches. The result is a wonderful value red Burgundy, bright and racy and packed with aromatics and flavours of red florals, cherry and spicy.

Textural

Excellent mouthfeel and structure with pure long fruit. This wine seem so much more together than the Pommard at this early stage.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

89-91 Points

♥ Outstanding. Top Value. A notably more elegant nose offers up excellent freshness to the pure red cherry, spice and warm earth nuances. The sleek, intense and beautifully textured middle weight flavors possess a lacy but punchy finish where a hint of salinity appears. This is lovely and again, the influence of the 1ers is very much in evidence.

Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 70

2016 Benjamin Leroux Pommard

What is it they say? You can take the man out of Pommard…? This is the second release of Pommard from Leroux. With both this cuvée and the wonderful Les Rugiens-Hauts, Leroux is back in Pommard with a bang. The 2016 is a blend of Les Vaumuriens, high on the slopes, and declassified 1er Cru La Platière (also above the village but on the Beaune side). In normal vintages this cuvée would include fruit from Les Cras. This was also crafted from 100% destemmed berries and raised with roughly 30% new oak. It has outstanding depth and characters of plum, iodine and all kinds of spice. Superb length too. Not without reason is Leroux considered a master of this appellation.

Density & Purity

Still very youthful, the quality of fruit, and, Leroux's ability to yield fine tannins from Pommard, he's brought us a long linear wine with lovely density, length, and, purity balanced with juicy acid.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

88-90 Points

This too is mildly reduced though the earth character does show through the funk. Otherwise there is excellent vibrancy to the rich and full-bodied flavors that possess a muscular mouth feel that continues onto the moderately rustic and slightly chewy finish. This is not a wine of elegance but then that's not why one usually buys villages wines from Pommard.

Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 70

88-90 Points

The 2016 Pommard Villages includes some declassified premier cru fruit this year. It offers earthy red and black fruit on the nose, quite floral in style with fine definition. The palate is juicy and (for a Pommard) quite corpulent on the entry, grainy in texture with nicely structured red berry fruit with a touch of salinité on the finish. Very fine in the context of a village cru.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin

Following the ever-declining yields in Volnay, Gevrey has seemingly cemented its position as Leroux’s northern powerhouse. In the main, the 2015 village blend was drawn from two vineyards – the 50 year old vines of Les Seuvrées (bordering Morey), makes up 65% of the blend while the balance comes from the northern, limestone-rich site of La Justice. Each parcel was vinified separately before blending after the malolactic.  Just 15% new oak here, and 20% whole bunches. It’s a seductive, layered, Gevrey loaded, with sweet, fresh, spicy fruit that builds to a sappy, delicious finish. Yes please.

Powerfull

Incredibly tightly wound on the nose, the palate is much more expressive with rich savoury, meaty, flavours, round, and full. Edge raw in it's youth, should come together nicely.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

90-92 Points

Good dark red. Subtly complex aromas of redcurrant, smoky underbrush and dried rose petal. A lovely silky, lightly saline midweight with noteworthy red berry intensity. Like the Vougeot Clos du Village and Savigny-lès-Beaune, this wine finished its malolactic fermentation very early. This is normally Leroux's largest cuvée (about 10,000 bottles per year) and does not include any declassified premier cru fruit in 2016. Should make a terrific village wine.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Morey-Saint-Denis

No Pierre Virant this year. His 1er Cru Les Genavrières, was labelled village this year.Both sites lie at the top of the slope above Clos de la Roche, just below the forest with an old quarry above. Leroux’s parcel, and our third allocation of this wine, comes from a small parcel of vines that are now 40 years old. The grapes were 100% destemmed, with 25% new oak.

Pretty

Playfull with excellent acid and rich long fruit. Like all of the reds at the moment, needs age. Lovely mid palate fruit, and, fine tannins.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

89-92 Points

♥ Outstanding. Pungent notes of wood toast and menthol serve as a less than neutral backdrop to the spiced plum, floral and softly earthy aromas. There delicious, vibrant and delineated medium weight flavors possess a really lovely mouth feel as well as a hint of minerality on the balanced and lingering finish. This is a very fine Morey villages even if it's really a 1er in drag.

Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 70

89-91 Points

Healthy red. Very ripe, slightly medicinal aromas of black cherry liqueur, dark chocolate, violet, menthol and game, lifted by a floral quality. Considerably sweeter and fatter than the foregoing samples, conveying a faintly high-toned character and good density. The savory finish shows some oak tannins. This wine came as a bit of a shock following Leroux's examples from the Côte de Beaune and does not have the finesse of his Volnays. Made from totally destemmed fruit and perhaps a bit lacking in definition and structure as a result.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Vosne-Romanée

The two core parcels here, both home to organically-farmed, 60 year old Pinot Fin vines, and both lying on the Flagey side of the village: Maizières Basses and Les Violettes (which borders Clos Vougeot). The fruit from both of these vineyards was fermented entirely as whole bunches, while the harvest from a third parcel, Aux Raviolles, (making up a third of the blend), was entirely destemmed. Aux Raviolles lies at the opposite end of Vosne, under the northern 1er Crus of Nuits-Saint-Georges.

Closed

The least yielding of all the village wines tasted. There is perhaps better value to be had with the Volnay, Gevrey and Morey.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

89-91 Points

Mostly from vines on the Flagey side, but also includes one-third from Aux Raviolles, from the opposite site of the village; 80% vendange entier, but most of the Raviolles was destemmed: Good deep red. Very subtle aromas and flavors of dark berries, spices, minerals and violet, plus a minty nuance. Suave, classy village wine with a fine-grained texture and a long, pliant finish. This lovely wine finished its malolactic fermentation early and will get an early bottling

89-91 Points

The 2016 Vosne Romanee Villages is an expanded cuvée since Leroux takes all the fruit from his contractors. It has an engaging bouquet with a gorgeous red cherry and strawberry bouquet laced with violets. The palate is medium-bodied with supple red and black fruit, quite a good backbone for a village cru partly from whole bunch (50+%) with a detailed finish. Recommended

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Volnay 1er Cru Clos de la Cave des Ducs (Monopole)

Clos de la Cave des Ducs is a monopole vineyard that measures only 0.64 hectares and is owned by the family of Leroux’s right-hand man, Jean-Charles Carré. It’s a wine that was rarely seen before Leroux started bottling this site. With Jean-Charles, Leroux controls every aspect of viticulture and so the site is managed biodynamically and with meticulous care. The vineyard is situated within the upper boundaries of the village – the highest 1er Cru of Volnay in fact – on fine, light soils. The oldest vines here are now 80 years old although the average age evens out to be about 50 years, and includes a 20 year old massale selection parcel sourced from Comte Armand’s Clos des Epeneaux. This year Leroux utilised 50% whole bunches (high for him) and just 15% new oak.

Layered

The most rewarding of the reds tasted on the day. Such a beautifull mouthfeel, great length of both tannins and flavour. Layered, complex, and balanced. With savoury, earthy characters, balancing some darker fruits. Although very tightly wound at the moment, there was still an early generosity. A sign of good things to come for this wine as it matures.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

94 Points

Morello and red-cherry notes flutter. The palate frames them in floral oak, with taut, sprightly tannin and a velvety lick of richness. Freshness pervades and heightens the aromas. Lovely, slender, expressive, and profound. The lasting echoes are as perfumed as the first sip.

Anne Krebiehl MW, World of Fine Wine, Issue 59

89-91 Points

An overtly floral nose combines notes of wood toast, essence of red and dark currant plus a hint of spice. There is a lovely inner mouth perfume to the racy, refined and stony lighter weight flavors that terminate in a youthfully austere finale.

Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 70

91-93 Points

The 2016 Volnay 1er Cru Clos de la Caves des Ducs, which has 50% whole-bunch fruit, has a transparent, red cherry and crushed strawberry bouquet that opens with more confidence than the Les Mitans. The palate has a fine bone structure, quite focused and grainy in the mouth with a keen thread of acidity, quite stern toward the finish but you have to admire the detail here. This has great potential.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux

With its eroded, limestone walls covered in vines and wildflowers, this ancient and picturesque climat has a medieval feel about it. It is situated up high, on the border of Brochon, in the most beautiful part of Gevrey. The soils here are mostly stony, red clays with the parent rock (limestone of course) very close to the surface. Leroux’s vines are 40 years old. This is a site that typically delivers very small berries and intense, aromatic fruit. Fans of Domaine Denis Mortet will be familiar with this vineyard and the Leroux bottling, too, is seriously impressive. From organically tended vines, there is only two barrels made from half whole bunch and half destemmed fruit.

90-93 Points

Dark ruby-red. Aromas of dark cherry, licorice and menthol convey a distinctly rocky character. Medicinal and quite unevolved in the mouth owing to the late malo, with very dark flavors of blackberry and blueberry dominating. Finishes with slightly clenched tannins. Excellent potential, from a premier cru that performed very well in 2016.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Goulots

Leroux describes this vineyard as the Gevrey equivalent of his favourite parcels in Chassagne (Tête du Clos) and Volnay (Clos de la Cave des Ducs). In spite of the fact that Les Goulots is hardly seen on wine labels, it is, to quote Leroux, “a top, top Gevrey 1er Cru”, and one that has been on his wish-list for some time. One of the reasons that this terroir is not well known is because of its size. Lying just above Champeaux, it is a tiny vineyard with few owners. It is the northernmost 1er Cru, on the slope that includes Les Cazetiers and Combe aux Moines and it is one of Leroux’s latest parcels to ripen. The vines here are a 50/50 mix of 20 and 43 year old vines, and the wine was raised in 50% new oak with 20% whole bunches in the ferment.

91-94 Points

Healthy medium red. Very complex, floral aromas of black cherry, blackberry and licorice; like virtually all of these 2016s, this conveys lovely flavor purity. Fine-grained and sexy in the mouth, with purple fruit flavors given punch by high-altitude calcaire lift. Finishes very long and pure, with suave tannins and an impression of full phenolic ripeness.

2016 Benjamin Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru La Perrière

Nestled underneath the Grand Cru vineyard of Mazis-ChambertinLa Perrière enjoys a superb location and has some of the oldest bedrock in the village. As the name suggests, it is a very stony vineyard – pierre means stone and the site was once a quarry. Planted in 1978, Leroux’s 0.10 hectare of vines are certified organic and these vines yielded just two barrels in 2016, one of which was new.

91-93 Points

Good medium red. Sexy aromas and flavors of raspberry, strawberry, rose petal and crushed-stone minerality complicated by spicy oak. Wonderfully precise and light on its feet; this is a bedrock wine from a quarry but the fruit was picked a week before the Goulots and the combination of minerality and higher acidity gives it terrific lift. Finishes with substantial dusty tannins and excellent length.

Stephen Tanzer, vinous.com

2015 Benjamin Leroux Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru

Like more and more growers in this part of the Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Leroux uses the historic lieu-dit name of Mazoyères to indicate that this terroir is significantly different to the rest of the AOC and arguably superior. In fact, there is not only a difference between the Mazoyères part of the Charmes-Chambertin GC and the rest of the AOC, but there are also differences between parcels that lie within the lieu-dit itself! For example, this comes from 0.13-hectares of Mazoyères Dessus (planted in 1965), the favoured top part of this vineyard, near Combottes and Latricières, bordering Morey. Three barrels this year, one of which was new, and only 10% whole bunches utilised.

95-97 Points

The 2016 Mazoyeres Chambertin Grand Cru was completely destemmed. It has an outstanding bouquet with detailed blackberry, raspberry, cold stone and subtle damp undergrowth aromas—very complex and it seems to gain intensity with aeration. The palate is beautifully balanced with fine, supple tannin that make this Mazoyères less oppressive than it might have been. There is a confit-like finish that lingers long in the mouth and you are already yearning for the next sip (always a positive sign). Give this several years aging to fully melt the tannins, then you will have a superb grand cru on your hands.

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate #234

2016 Benjamin Leroux Clos-Saint-Denis Grand Cru

Due to its small size (at 6.6 hectares it is about one-third of the size of Clos de la Roche) and fragmented ownership, this is one of the Côte d’Or’s least tasted Grand Cru vineyards. For a number of years, Leroux has been making an outstanding example from a 50+ year old parcel of vines (planted in 1962) smack-bang in the original Clos itself (there are, in fact, another three climats or historic lieux-dits – so four in total – grouped together under the Clos Saint-Denis AOC. This comes from the historic vineyard of the same name. The 2016 is the best release we have seen of this wine, deep and structured and yet wonderfully juicy and seductive. And so long. This 0.13 hectare parcel has always been managed organically, and as per last year, the wine was entirely destemmed and aged in one-third new barrels. Leroux always refers to this Grand Cru as “mon chouchou”. In other words, his favourite (year in, year out). Enough said. 

Elegance+

The purity, line and length Leroux's Clos-Saint-Denis shine through. Such a wonderfully fine, supple palate of great beauty and poise. The new oak shows a little at the moment, but, will settle in nicely over the next year or three.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

95-97 Points

The 2016 Clos St Denis Grand Cru has a clean and fresh bouquet with a delicate floral aspect that complements the vibrant red berry fruit. This conveys a sense of class and nobility. You are in the presence of a serious Burgundy! The palate is silky smooth with filigreed tannin, pitch-perfect acidity and a sensual, long and crystalline finish. This may well be the best 2016 from Benjamin Leroux. This is quite brilliant and up there among the best I have tasted from this grand cru in barrel.

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234

92-94 Points

Once again a very pungent nose is composed by notes of wood toast and reduction. On the plus side there is first-rate elegance to the lilting and finely detailed flavors that possess a caressing mouth feel before culminating in a sneaky long and impeccably well-balanced finale that also flashes a touch of youthful austerity. Lovely.

Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 70

2016 Benjamin Leroux Echézeaux Grand Cru

Usually drawn exclusively from the Vignes Blanches climat (often referenced as Les Criots) on the Vosne border, this year Leroux added sources from a few other lieux-dits due to frost damage. Even so, only two barrels were produced and the fruit was entirely destemmed. The Vignes Blanches vines were planted in 1965.

89-92 Points

A relatively somber but attractively spicy nose reflects notes of red and dark berries, lavender, Asian-style tea and a floral hint. The lush and very rounded medium-bodied flavors possess good mid-palate fat before terminating in a slightly edgy and tangy finish that is just enough to cut the length somewhat short today. My predicted range assumes that the tartness will age out once this is bottled.

Allen Meadows, Burghound issue 70

89-92 Points

Leroux began with only Vignes Blanches but now gets fruit from multiple climats in Echézeaux; totally destemmed: Dark, bright red. Distinctly dark, brooding aromas of blackberry, bitter chocolate and licorice accented by a peppery quality. A bit youthfully brutal on the palate, offering savory flavors of blueberry, crushed stone, pepper and spices. This firmly structured, uncompromising Echézeaux finishes with dry, granular tannins and is very difficult to taste today. These vineyards were hit hard by the frost in 2016 and the malolactic fermentation was late.

Wines Available in Magnum Only

2016 Benjamin Leroux Bonnes Mares Grand Cru

Bottled in magnum only. Leroux’s parcel within Bonnes-Mares has always been managed organically, having never had any chemicals used on its soils. It’s a tiny plot (0.10 hectares) in the southern sector of the Grand Cru, on the Chambolle side. Leroux’s vines were planted in 1983 on a type of soil called terres blanches, that has a great concentration of rocky limestone with countless fossils. His neighbour here is Christophe Roumier. The 2016 was vinified with 50% new oak and just 10% whole bunches. As with all quality Bonnes-Mares it will benefit enormously from time in bottle.

94-96 Points

The 2016 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru was reduced from three to two barrels this year (the vines are located on Terres Blanches next to Christophe Roumier’s). It has an extremely pure bouquet with black cherries, kirsch, blood orange and minerals. It has a wonderful, shimmering bouquet with fine tannin, a gentle crescendo here with a nicely structured finish and superb mineralité. Wonderful. 

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #234  

93-95 points

Healthy dark red. Captivating lift to the sappy aromas of maraschino cherry, licorice and exotic herbs. Dense, vigorous wine with terrific medicinal reserve and punch to its dark fruit, licorice and mineral flavors. Youthfully imploded in a classic Bonnes-Mares manner but not rigid or hard. A wine with outstanding finishing energy and length, built for a slow evolution in bottle--and a classic expression of its terroir. (Incidentally, Leroux is looking to supplement this fruit source with another piece of Bonnes-Mares.) 

2016 Benjamin Leroux Clos de La Roche Grand Cru

Bottled in magnum only. At its finest, (which comes down to the producer and location within the Clos) Clos de la Roche can produce some of the Côte d’Or’s most profound reds. This wine is very typical of the finest makers in the appellation, offering a deep, layered, dark fruited personality with the exotic spice of Morey’s northern slopes. The wine hails from 0.15 hectares of vines, located mid-slope on shallow, rocky soil with a high limestone content. The vines here were planted in 1965. As you would expect, there is more structural muscle and minerality than the Clos Saint-Denis. In short, this is a stunning wine of great depth and elegance that clearly has enormous ageing potential, especially in magnum. Matured in one-third new oak, this cuvée was 90% destemmed.

93-96 Points

Bright, dark red. Medicinal red cherry and pungent chalky minerality on the nose. Wonderfully silky and juicy on entry, then precise and sharply delineated in the middle palate, with the sappy red cherry and wild herb flavors given added punch by crushed-stone minerality. Really stunning perfume and lift in the mouth. Finishes with terrific energy and subtle rising length. This and the Bonnes-Mares weigh in at about 13.5% alcohol, the highest among this outstanding set of 2016s. 

92-94 Points

The 2016 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru was much more muted on the nose compared to the Clos Saint-Denis (although the oak treatment is identical). This is a little withdrawn at the moment. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, quite firm in the mouth, a more masculine wine compared to the Clos Saint-Denis but without the same finesse. A bit like Dujac, this is a pair where I prefer the Clos that replies to the name Denis.

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate #234

2015 Benjamin Leroux Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses

Bottled in magnum only. From 0.06 hectares of Les Amoureuses, planted in 1972, this is Leroux’s smallest parcel. There are so few magnums available that we shouldn’t even be writing notes! As has become the custom, Leroux vinifies this wine without any new oak and with only destemmed fruit.

92-94 Points

♥ Outstanding. An overtly floral and exceptionally pretty nose is elegant, airy and admirably pure with plenty of spice elements adding breadth to the essence of red currant aromas that are trimmed in discreet oak nuances. There is a wonderfully refined quality to the much stonier middle weight flavors that possess a silky and highly seductive mouth feel, all wrapped in a balanced and impressively lengthy finale. Lovely stuff that is class in a glass.

Allen Meadows, Burghound issue 70