Domaine Leroy: A Voyage Across the 2019s


Lalou Bize-Leroy's 2019s are off the charts. Even in 2019, a year marked by several pronounced heat spikes, the wines capture tremendous expression of site. From the village wines all the way to the top Grand Crus, the 2019s are simply breathtaking for their grandeur and sheer personality.

A woman of extraordinary conviction, Lalou Bize-Leroy has the energy of someone half her age. There are no half measures, compromises or grey areas here. She will answer the standard questions about weather, yields and vinification, but her eyes really light up when it comes to any discussion of place, the single greatest driver of what makes Burgundy Burgundy.

Yields in 2019 were a paltry 15.4 hectoliters per hectare, tiny by any standard, even taking into account that dead vines are typically not replaced. As always, the wines are aged in 100% new oak. "I am not at all looking for oak influence, but rather to minimize risks by seeking maximum hygiene. We take such care in our vineyards to have beautiful grapes and low yields that it simply does not make sense to work with used barrels," she explains.

The hierarchy of sites is a fundamental concept. "It's a very good wine, yes, and there is more structure than the village wines, but it is a 1er Cru, obviously. It is Volnay,” Lalou (as she is known to everyone) says matter-of-factly of her Santenots. "The Charmes is a dancer, the Combottes is a peasant. I mean, take your pick, one can choose," she says with a wicked laugh, leaving no doubt whatsoever as to her preference. What can I say? I guess I have simple tastes.

Not pleased with the first bottle of Brûlées, Lalou opens a second bottle. I think it is the first time I have encountered an off bottle here. “There is an enormous difference between the two bottles. Enormous!” she exclaims. “The Brûlées and the Beaux Monts are the same vineyard, and yet the two wines are completely different," Lalou says. "I would like to taste the Beaux Monts blind next to 4-5 Richebourgs and see what happens.” On that subject, I tell her Richebourg is not one of my favorite Grand Crus. "Mine either," is the reply. "I prefer Romanée Saint-Vivant; Richebourg is more vulgar. It's less deep than Saint-Vivant, that's for sure.”

We move into the Grand Crus. Once again, I have a strong affection for the Corton-Renardes, probably because it was the first Domaine Leroy wine I tasted. I especially gravitate towards the Romanée Saint-Vivant, Musigny, Latricières-Chambertin and Chambertin, all wines of extraordinary elegance. The Clos de la Roche impresses with its balance. "It's a sort of deceptive balance," Lalou says. “The Clos de la Roche simply doesn’t have the finesse of the Musigny or Romanée Saint-Vivant, and it never will. It is flattering today, but the other Grand Crus will grow more over time.”

The Domaine Leroy wines have always been expensive. In recent years, prices have reached truly stratospheric levels that place them well beyond the means of most mortals. When it comes to what is in the bottle, though, the profound beauty of these wines simply can’t be denied.

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