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Tasting at Benjamin Leroux was very enjoyable. Despite the slight confusion with the appointment time, Benjamin kindly showed us around and gave us an interesting tasting of his 2017 portfolio of whites and his selection of Grand Cru reds plus a few eccentric vineyards as a bonus. My favourite was his Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres and his Chambertin, as well as a couple of surprises from his Clos Vougeot and Nuits Saint Georges Les Boudots.

Benjamin Leroux started his negociant business in 2007 after he left Domaine Comte Armand, his sizeable estate is located just outside of the Beaune ‘ring’ D470 (or as I like to call it, the Beaune ‘M25’). Even though this Maison is a fairly big operation in terms of total production size, he usually only produces a couple of barrels of each cuvee. Benjamin sources his grapes through 3 methods, 1) manages the vineyards (mostly organic/ biodynamic) / works closely with growers and picks the grapes, 2) buys the grapes from growers and, 3) his own vineyards (i.e. Meursualt Genevrieves, etc). Benjamin Leroux never buys juice/ wine as the quality tends to be unreliable and there is no guarantee the wines are what they say they are.

Screw Caps

One of the most controversial topics within the wine industry is the wine closure. Traditionally wines are enclosed with natural corks and are still hugely popular amongst producers and consumers especially in the old world despite the risk of TCA and (arguably) the premature oxidation they carry. Benjamin Leroux is one of the most innovative winemakers in Burgundy, he believes the benefit of screw caps outweighs the tradition and romance of natural corks. Benjamin has been experimenting with screwcaps for more than a decade and he found out that unsurprisingly, the screwcapped wines showed more freshness and significantly less bottle variation from the same batch of wines. Admittedly, he told us there were some premox issues in his 2008 vintage that was closed by natural corks. Since 2014, most of his white wines where he exports to major markets (i.e. UK, Japan, US, and Scandinavia) were bottled in screw caps.

Winemaking Style

In 2017, Benjamin Leroux had a fruitful yield of 48hl/ha on average. c. 20-50% new oak (from various coopers) for the village to Grand Crus. High percentage of whole cluster in the reds. The whites are bright and lively with a drizzle of 2007 energy, a great vintage that shows lovely balance between weight and fruits, and close to 2014 quality without the tight acidity. The reds are in general supple with fairly good concentration and firmness (especially Clos Vougeot), a vintage that can be approached young (like 2014).

Tasting Notes

Bourgogne Blanc 2017

From a blend of Meursault Bourgogne appellation vineyards, this Bourgogne Blanc offers refreshing array of fruits and acidity. Aged in oak for 10 months and 10 months in stainless steel tank, 10% new oak, no filter. An easy going Bourgogne blanc that you can drink as soon as released. Uncomplicated, a decent Bourgogne Blanc. (82/100)

Meursault 2017

The generic Meursault is from a blend of 5 parcels, including Les Criots, Blagny. Supple and easy-going, lively pear fruits and supple cream. (83/100)

Meursault Les Vireuils 2017

Les Vireuils is a cooler climate lieux dits in Meursault, slightly more generous flavours of stone fruits with lovely density and supple minerals. Gentle village with bright acidity and refreshing wet stones. (84-85/100)

Puligny Montrachet 2017

Cool tree fruits with firm structure, lively lemons and retrained crystalline fruits of Puligny Montrachet. A lovely entry level Puligny with supple lees and limes on the finish. Clean and expressive. (86/100)

Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres 2017

This is my highlight of Benjamin Leroux’s white wines, the Meursault Les Genevrieres is from Benjamin’s own parcel, planted in 1960. Great richness and sophistication. A charming smoked minerals characteristic, stylish orchard fruits, soft citrus, and chewy extract. A broad shoulder Genevrieres without being fat or clumsy. (90/100)

Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Abbey de Morgeot 2017

The 2017 Chassagne Montrachet Abbey de Morgeot offers great energy and brightness, sweet tree fruits, pear, oak, and touch of tropical fruits. Medium bodied, showing more fruits than his Meursault wines. (89/100)

Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embazees 2017

Les Emazees is a Premier Cru vineyard adjacent to Tete du Clos, bordering Santenay. Bright tree and orchard fruits with more oiliness than Abbey de Morgeot. Refreshing yellow fruits and wet stones. Medium weight but can be consumed at an earlier stage. (89/100)

Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines 2017

Located above Les Embazees, the vines in Les Baudines was planted in 1980. This 2017 Les Baudines offers good roundness and texture. A fine boned Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru with lemon, pear, and supple white flowers. (89/100)

Nuits Saint Georges 2017

Supple floral nose, light red fruits. Lightish weight with soft tannins, there are some resemblance to 2014 without the focused acidity. Gentle grip with supple whole cluster lift. (85/100)

Vosne Romanee 2017

The Vosne Romanee is comprised of 2/3 grapes from vineyard near Flagey Echezeaux side with 1/3 from Aux Raviolles (below Nuits St Georges). Good richness for village level with juicy dark berry fruits, charming spices and floral lift. 2/3 whole bunch. A lovely wine to drink from 2021-2040. (87-88/100)

Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots 2017

Benjamin Leroux started making this wine in 2015, a vineyard I really adore as it is has more ‘Vosne Romanee’ character than Nuits Saint Georges. Lovely concentration and dark fruits with firm richness and plush tannins. (88-89/100)

Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Au Dessus de Malconsorts 2017

A new addition to Benjamin Leroux’s portfolio since 2015, this vineyard is located right next to Les Gaudichots, a tiny low key 1er Cru vineyard right next to La Tache. Mostly whole bunch. A serious array of dark fruits with deeply laced spices and rose petals. Suave scents with solid 1er Cru richness. A wine build for mid-long term ageing. (90-91/100)

Clos Vougeot Grand Cru ‘Petit Maupertuis’ 2017

Benjamin Leroux buy grapes from ‘Petit maupertuis’, a lieux dits next to Grands Echezeaux. The vines here are 80+ years old. Only 2 barrels made in 2017, 50% new oak. Great richness and smoky dark fruits. Impressive concentration and depth. Sexy whole cluster and ripe stems, iron and minerals. (92/100)

Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru Les Chaffots 2017

Les Chaffots is a new addition to Benjamin Leroux’s portfolio, this vineyard is located above Clos Saint Denis. Deeply laced blackberry, sappy cherry and herbs. Great perfume and wild herbs & stone. Good firmness with lovely length. (90/100)

Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru 2017

Benjamin Leroux buys grapes from a plot top to bottom of Mazis Chambertin from Les Mazis-Hauts to Les Mazis-Bas. Farmed biodynamically,  this Mazis Chambertin offers a lovely bouquet of lifted dark berries, hints of liquorice, and Indian spices. Silky with great energy. Concentrated yet there is a sense of weightlessness, very good. (92/100)

Griotte Chambertin Grand Cru 2017

Only 2 barrels made in 2017. The Griotte Chambertin offers more fruits than the Mazis Chambertin, dark cherry, blueberry, gravely spices and hints of summer flowers. Very charming with an earthy layer of nuance. This should drink nicely in 8 years time. (93/100)

Chambertin Grand Cru 2017

The Chambertin offers the most round and complete richness of complexity, just like Montrachet of the 5 Grand Crus in the Montrachet hill. Deeply laced dark fruits, intense spices, smoked meat and raspberry. There is plenty of tightness and tension. This will need at least 10 years of cellaring. (94+/100)

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