2016 Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Embazées, 1er Cru, Benjamin Leroux, Burgundy
About this WINE
Having created a name for himself as régisseur (general manager) of Domaine du Comte Armand in Pommard, Benjamin Leroux established, with English backing, a small négociant business based in Beaune since 2007. The range is confined to the Côte d’Or, from Chassagne-Montrachet to Gevrey-Chambertin, with the intention of developing farming contracts or indeed purchasing vineyards in the future.
The possibilities are very exciting for this exceptionally talented vigneron. Benjamin is a master at delivering purity of fruit alongside a seamless texture in his wines which have only the subtlest influence of oak. One of Benjamin’s favourite locations for white wine vineyards is the border between Auxey-Duresses and Meursault, which is where Les Vireuils can be found. Here the natural weight of Meursault is enhanced by the fresher minerality typical of the side valley of Auxey-Duresses.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Discover the story behind our Own Selection Bourgogne Côte d’Or Pinot Noir, made for us by Benjamin. Read more
When it comes to the world's greatest white wines, the border between Chassagne and Puligny is the ‘X’ that marks the spot, the treasure at the end of the rainbow. Within a few hundred metres lie five wonderful Grands Crus, three of which are in Chassagne. They are led by the luscious, perfumed but variable Le Montrachet, to which Chassagne gained permission in 1879, along with Puligny, to hyphenate its name.Both Montrachet and the rich, nutty, honeyed Bâtard-Montrachet are shared between Chassagne and Puligny. The fragrant, very fine and rare Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet however, lies entirely within Chassagne's borders. The Grands Crus have their own appellations, which is why Chassagne (or Puligny) does not appear on the label.
Although the most southerly of the three great names of the Côte de Beaune, Chassagne's style is often described as lying between that of Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault: less fine than Puligny, less rich than Meursault but containing elements of both. Chassagne is minerally yet succulent, and often floral with hints of hazelnuts. Despite a bevy of very good Premiers Crus, it is not as good or famous, overall, as Meursault and Puligny, but it is usually extremely good value. Grands Crus should not be opened before eight years of age, and can last for 20 or more. Premiers Crus are at their best from five to 15 years of age; village wines from three to eight.
Perhaps surprisingly, given that the name ‘Montrachet’ is so synonymous with white wine, much of the soil in Chassagne is more suited to Pinot Noir than Chardonnay. Indeed it was only really in the second half of the 20th century that white wines began to dominate here. The reds have a firm tannic style that needs time to soften, with the best examples coming from the Premiers Crus Morgeot, Boudriotte and Clos-St Jean. At their best they combine the weight of the Côte de Nuits with the suppleness of the Côte de Beaune.
- 180 hectares of village Chassagne-Montrachet
- 159 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards. Several of the larger ones are subdivided and may be cited under various different names. The best include Caillerets, Ruchottes, Chaumées, La Boudriotte
- 11 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Le Montrachet (part), Bâtard-Montrachet (part) and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet
- Recommended producers: Ramonet, Niellon
- Recommended restaurant: Le Chassagne (good cuisine and wine list)
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
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This vineyard escaped the frost so volumes are normal here. Classically Chassagne, the wine has plenty of white peach and citrus fruit, and an oily, spicy edge that gives weight and complexity. Excellent balance and a lovely finish with notes of torrefaction. Drink 2020-2025.
Adam Bruntlett, Burgundy Buyer
Having created a name for himself as régisseur (general manager) of Comte Armand in Pommard from 1999 until 2013, Benjamin Leroux established a small négociant business based in Beaune in 2007. The emphasis is on Côte de Beaune whites and Côte de Nuits reds. The company also owns a small holding of Bâtard-Montrachet and since 2014 some vineyards in Meursault. In a short space of time Benjamin Leroux’s wines have built an impressive reputation. Ben is a big fan of his 2016s, praising the sizzling tension of the whites and the beautiful quality of the Pinot fruit, which allowed him to use more whole bunches than in 2015. In early stages of élevage he drew comparisons to 2010, and feels these are wines which will surprise people and gain complexity with time. Thanks to his strong relationships with suppliers, Ben was able to maintain production at around 2015 levels despite the frost, although in general he has less Village and Grand Cru wine and more at the Premier Cru level. For reasons of space, the limited volumes of Grands Crus have not been included in this catalogue. Since the 2014 vintage, all white wines are bottled under screwcap.
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