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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.
2018 reds are bold with plenty of generosity. The plumpness of the fruit has immediate appeal, yet, it is time that these wines demand. The richness makes it a confusing year for those used to the old normal in Burgundy. Compared with recent years 2018 is most like 2015. The puppy fat needs to come off and the wines need to resolve.
We’ll see the drop into the typical Burgundy hole and close up in coming years. When they come out we will see wines that have resolved, the insane depth of fruit they have will pull back and reach balance with secondary characters. Tasting these wines today, they almost look a little new worldy. Yet leave a glass on the table for 24 hours and you can already start to see where they are going to go. The acid and tannin build, the fruit pulls back a little, balance falls into place. It’s clear they have all the components to make for delicious aged Burgundies. The wines from the Côtes du Beaune show as being more together now. Their is plenty more to come from the Côtes du Nuits!
The whites are impressive, he’s building textural appeal, has maintained excellent freshness and energy in the wines picking them ripe, not green, and certainly not over the top. The Bourgogne Blanc, 90% Meursault is a great little indicator.
Explore the Epic Line-Up & Enjoy!
Turns out Ben is 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!
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.
How to drink wine with Benjamin Leroux!
The 2018 Vintage at Leroux
“I did not have time to taste the complete range of 2018s from Leroux, but I made serious inroads with around 25 whites and reds up for inspection. His winemaking talent is obvious to see… there is serious quality throughout his range from top to bottom.”
Neal Martin, Vinous
“The disarmingly charming Benjamin Leroux needs no introduction, and his 2018 portfolio showed superbly on this visit. The style here, in reds and whites, is pure, fine-boned and nicely balanced—wines which will drink well both young and old—and everything reviewed here comes recommended.”
William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
From the Importer
Perhaps we should leave it with Mr Kelley’s quote: “everything here comes highly recommended”? That’ll pretty much do it. Ever year the thoughtful and precise Ben Leroux keeps on hitting a higher bar, continually adapting beautifully to the vintage and the ever-changing climate. His 2018s are superb across the range. We love the depth, chewy textures, complexity—and frankly surprising freshness—of the whites, as we do the power in a velvet glove with the grace and class of the reds.
The notes below have plenty of details. The third-party notes are frustratingly not always reflective of how well the wines taste today and perhaps this is because, as Leroux has pointed out, his wines improved enormously in the latter part of their aging.
On the vintage in general, it is clear that plenty of heroic wines have been made. Jasper Morris has written, “The best wines are superlative, in the class of the very best that Burgundy can produce.” Aubert de Villaine has described 2018 as “Beautiful, beautiful. A year that will leave its mark.” Arnaud Mortet believes he has overseen the best wines of his career. Leroux has done superbly well in both colours.
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.
In the Winery
Throughout the videos above, the videos above, 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!
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, Vosne, Chambolle, Morey & Gevrey. Detailed maps of his holdings in each village can be found with the reviews below.
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