2016 Vosne-Romanée, Benjamin Leroux, Burgundy
Neal Martin - 29/12/2017
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
The small commune of Vosne-Romanée is the Côte de Nuits’ brightest star, producing the finest and most expensive Pinot Noir wines in the world.. Its wines have an extraordinary intensity of fruit which manages to combine power and finesse more magically than in any other part of the Côte d’Or. The best examples balance extraordinary depth and richness with elegance and breeding.Situated just north of Nuits-St Georges, Vosne-Romanée boasts eight Grand Cru vineyards, three of which include the suffix Romanée, to which the village of Vosne appended its name in 1866. The famous La Romanée vineyard was formerly known as Le Cloux but was renamed in 1651, presumably after the Roman remains found nearby. In 1760 the property was bought by Prince de Conti, and subsequently became known as Romanée-Conti.
Vosne is the home of the phenomenally fine wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti; divine wines that are, as they say, not for everyone but for those who can afford them. The region also boasts some of the world’s most talented, quality-conscious and pioneering producers: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti of course, but also Henri Jayer, Lalou Bize-Leroy, René Engel, as well as the Grivot and Gros families, to name but a few.
Vosne-Romanée has the greatest concentration of top vineyards in the Côte d’Or, including the tiny Grand Crus of the astonishing La Romanée-Conti (a monopoly of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti producing about 600 cases a year), the classy, complex La Romanée (a monopoly of Vicomte Liger-Belair, but until 2002 bottled under Bouchard Père et Fils, producing a minuscule 300 cases or so a year) and the little-known La Grande Rue. As the name suggests, this runs up the side of the road out of Vosne. Originally a Premier Cru, it was rightly upgraded in 1992, although its rich, spicy, floral Pinots are yet to reach their real potential under Domaine Lamarche who hold it as a monopoly.
By convention the wines of neighbouring Flagey-Echézeaux are considered part of Vosne-Romanée. These include the large, very variable 30-hectare Echézeaux (divided between 84 different growers) and the more consistent, silky, intense, violet-scented Grands Echézeaux Grands Crus.
La Tâche is another monopoly of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. It is explosively seductive with a peerless finesse, and is almost as good as their legendary eponymous wine. Richebourg is one of Burgundy’s most voluptuous wines and is capable of challenging La Tâche in some years, while Romanée-St Vivant, which takes its name from the monastery of St Vivant built around 900AD in Vergy, has a lovely silky finesse but is slightly less powerful.
If that wasn’t enough, Vosne-Romanée also boasts some absolutely magnificent Premiers Crus headed by Clos des Réas, Les Malconsorts (just south of La Tâche, and arguably of Grand Cru quality) and Les Chaumes on the Nuits-St Georges side, Cros Parantoux (made famous by Henri Jayer), Les Beaux Monts and Les Suchots on the Flagey-Echézeaux border. The old maxim that ‘there are no common wines in Vosne-Romanée’ may not be strictly true, but it is not far off.
Drinking dates vary, but as a general rule of thumb Grand Crus are best drunk from at least 10 to 25 years, while Premier Crus can be enjoyed from 8 to 20 years, and village wines from 5 to 12 years.
There are no white wines produced in Vosne-Romanée.
- 99 hectares of village Vosne-Romanée.
- 56 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (14 in all). Foremost vineyards include Les Gaudichots, Les Malconsorts, Cros Parentoux, Les Suchots, Les Beauxmonts, En Orveaux and Les Reignots.
- 75 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Romanée-Conti, La Romanée, La Tache, Richebourg, Romanée St Vivant, La Grande Rue, Grands Echézeaux, Echézeaux.
- Recommended producers: Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Leroy, Cathiard, Engel, Rouget, Grivot, Liger Belair.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
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This wine is a bin-end, discounted by 20%. Excludes BBX stock.
A blend of three vineyards – Maizières, Violettes and Ravioles – this has become a significant cuvée for Ben, and it’s clear his style complements the silky, red- fruited profile of Vosne. A good proportion of whole- bunch has been used here, providing a lovely floral lift to the silky strawberry and redcurrant fruit. Simply very Vosne. Drink 2020-2026.
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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