Brother-and-sister team Virginie and Romain are at the helm at this domaine. It has 13 hectares on the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits, with grands crus including Clos des Lambrays, Charmes-Chambertin, Corton-Rognet and Mazoyères-Chambertin. These seventh generation winegrowers are typical of the new crop of young Burgundian vignerons who are realising the full potential of priceless family vineyard parcels through sensitive viticulture and thoughtful winemaking. The average age of the vines is 50 years, and they've been worked organically since 2001. All grapes are de-stemmed, with 25% new oak used for the village wines and 40% for grand and premier cru. Virginie looks after sales while Romain works the cellar, producing structured, self-assured Burgundy that expresses the vineyards well. The wines are getting better and better – as shown by a truly exciting set of 2013s.
Talk about a gift that keeps giving. Our friend Stephen Pannell once gave us some assorted wines to say thanks for a favour. In the mix were a couple of bottles from name we didn’t know: Domaine Jean Tardy & Fils. We drank them and they were a revelation.
In 1966, Jean Tardy started working vines in Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Clos Vougeot under a crop-sharing arrangement with Domaine Méo-Camuzet. From the 1980s, he started slowly but surely to build his estate, acquiring land in the likes of Chambolle-Musigny, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin over the next 30 years. Son Guillaume took charge of the winemaking in 2001. With only five hectares all up, these traditional, precise and elegant wines are domaine-bottled in tiny quantities. No wonder it took a little help from our friends to track down Jean Tardy & Fils. But now we’re in on the secret, it’s clear why the privileged few see this as one of the finest producers on the Côte d’Or.
I like the style here: rich, balanced and pure, plump and intensely flavoured. Clive Coates MW, The Wines of Burgundy
This is the personal domaine of Lalou Bize-Leroy, based in Saint Romain. It has village and premier cru vineyards in Meursault, Auxey-Duresses and Puligny, plus the grands crus of Chevalier-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Bonnes-Mares and Mazis-Chambertin.
After several years now working with Lalou, we are only just starting to see the fruits of our labour by being offered a tiny parcel of d’Auvenay wines (no more than a dozen or so bottles of each) alongside those of Domaine Leroy. Admirers of Coche-Dury or Domaine Leflaive (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) would be well advised to take a very serious look at these d’Auvenays.
It’s almost impossible to put into words the significance of Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy in the world of wine. Burgundy authority Clive Coates MW posits that "the greatest domaines of Burgundy today must be those under the control of Lalou Bize: The Domaine Leroy and her own Domaine d'Auvenay". Having started out as a négociant for the family's Maison Leroy in the 1950s, Lalou and investors bought the vineyards and winery of Domaine Charles Noëllat in Vosne-Romanée in 1988 and renamed it Domaine Leroy. “At Domaine Leroy, we have been cultivating our vines under biodynamic conditions since 1989," says Lalou. "This means that our wines are free of all chemical treatments, weed killers, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and artificial fertilisers. Instead, we have stepped back in time and use cosmic rhythms to ensure correct soil tilling and recuperation as well as effective vine care through all phases of the year's cycle.”
The wines are magnificently impressive too. The old vines have been jealously preserved. The yield is cut to the quick and reduced even further by the domaine's insistence on cultivation according to biodynamic principles. There is no destemming, a long cuvaison and plenty of new oak. The results are breathtakingly intense, pure and concentrated, and curiously quite different in style from those at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, despite the approach being superficially similar. Clive Coates MW, The Wines of Burgundy
No matter what guise they come in, the wines of Lalou Bize-Leroy are as unique, captivating and hard to pin down as the Guardian of Great Wine herself. From Maison Leroy comes an invitation to hear the Côte d’Or as interpreted by perhaps its most sensitive composer. “Every vintage is, for her, a new challenge to overcome: to produce, from the lowest possible yields, wines that are the absolute voice of their terroir,” as La Revue du vin de France puts it.
Lalou started out as a négociant working for Maison Leroy, which was founded in Auxey-Duresses in 1868 by her great grandfather, François. Since then, her fame has spread right across the world of fine wine as part-owner and former co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, as well as being the formidable driving force behind Domaine Leroy and Domaine d'Auvenay.
These Maison Leroy wines, meanwhile, exude tradition from every drop. Négociants are both the backbone of Burgundy and the glue that holds this fragmented vineyard together. All of a sudden it seems the notion of the ‘négoce’ – the art of finishing off, blending, enhancing and bottling carefully selected parcels of wine – has come right back into vogue. And right on cue, here's Lalou and the wines of Maison Leroy hitting an all-time high note.