Benjamin Leroux is the first-generation vigneron behind our Own Selection Bourgogne Côte d’Or Pinot Noir.
Over the past decade, Benjamin Leroux has firmly established himself as one of Burgundy’s biggest names.
But a winemaking career in Burgundy hadn’t always been an obvious route. “I’m not from a grower family – I’m a first-generation winemaker,” Benjamin explains. “I had no vineyards waiting for me, so I travelled and gained experience elsewhere. I wasn’t actually planning to come back to Burgundy because the region seemed closed to opportunities: there weren’t many exchanges between villages, and estates were passed from generation to generation.”
Have things changed, then, in Benjamin’s working life? “Things are very different now,” he affirms. “There are no more secrets, and people are more open-minded; where there used to be competition between the different wine regions, now there’s solidarity.
“We’re sharing experiences more than in previous generations, which helps things to evolve. Of course, Burgundy is very conscious of its history – there won’t be any big changes. But things are moving: slowly, gently, but always towards a higher quality. It’s a good path.”
The pursuit of purity
“My wines give the pure expression of their terroir,” says Benjamin. “Each wine is a reflection of where it’s from and its vintage. So, I’m working quite intuitively to achieve purity and transparency... I don’t like the term “winemaker” because I don’t make the wine. I’m just here to make sure that the wine expresses the best of the fruit, the best of the terroir.”
Benjamin’s approachable style of winemaking belies its intellectual edge and philosophical underpinnings – but to him, that’s exactly the point. “For someone who isn’t familiar with Burgundy, my wines are easy to approach and understand,” he explains, “But if you want to delve deeper, there are many layers of understanding to explore.
“I make the sort of wine that I like to drink, because I’m a wine lover. There may be occasions when you want to have a glass of wine, but really, it’s more about spending time with your friends. You might not pay much attention to the wine – it’s just there to elevate your spirits. But if you want to be more intellectual, to go deeper into the wine, there’s space for you to do so. That flexibility, to me, is important.
“Wine should be great for any occasion. I used to be offended when people would open my wine after two years. I’m not anymore. The best time for drinking my wine is when you want to share – maybe with your friends, maybe with yourself.”
The beauty of Burgundy’s terroir
From vintage to vintage, the process of winemaking is a gift for posterity. Benjamin puts it beautifully: “My job is to take care of this beautiful region – to work with this incredible terroir and leave it in a better shape for the future generation.
“We live in a world where everything is expected to move quickly, by the second. But the work I’m doing – making the wine, taking care of the vineyards, replanting the crops – isn’t for me. It’s for the next generation, and the generation after that.”
It’s clear that Benjamin has no desire to rush the long-term process of working with Burgundy’s special terroir. “I like this idea of not rushing things. It’s a multigenerational job – it’s immaterial somehow. And in the world we’re living in, that’s a precious opportunity.
“My roots are in Burgundy: the region has made me, and it’s still making me,” he says. “I’m now 45 and I’m still not done – there’s so much beauty here. I’ve always loved travelling, but generally I feel like we’re travelling too much; sometimes, happiness is no further than the edge of your feet. Burgundy is an easy place to realise that.”
The scope of Burgundy
“Benjamin really represents what Burgundy can do,” explains Mark Pardoe MW, our Wine Director at Berry Bros. & Rudd. “He makes an enormous range of wines: he has over 50 in his portfolio, spanning the length of the Côte d’Or from north to south. When you taste through his wines, you get a complete picture of what Burgundy is about.
Our Own Selection Bourgogne Côte d’Or Pinot Noir is a result of Benjamin’s intimate knowledge of opportunities in Burgundy. As Mark explains, “What’s exciting about this wine, in particular, is that you’ve got something that really overdelivers. Ben knew someone who was making a wine at village level in Chorey-lès-Beaune, and he was able to declassify it and sell it as Bourgogne Côte d’Or.”
What is it about Benjamin that makes him stand out, especially, in Burgundy?
“He has the appetite, the dynamism and the intelligence to be constantly challenging, experimenting and adapting with each vintage,” says Mark. “His wines are about accessibility, purity and reflecting each village’s characteristics. They're modern wines with immediate appeal, but they’re not facile: these are wines with intellectual depth.”
Our Own Selection Bourgogne Côte d’Or Pinot Noir provides the perfect introduction to a brilliant winemaker working with a truly special terroir.