When asked to name favorite producers in Burgundy or wines we crave the very most, there's a bit of a golden rule before answering: No Leroy! Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy, the co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, is a larger than life figure. She's paved her very particular way since starting her own domaine in 1988. Her methods within the vines and in the cellar are met with reverence and a touch of bewilderment. Her wines break rules and truly transcend appellations. Today's offer includes two vintages of her iconic Aligoté, featuring the lowest price in the entire country.
Lalou had focused on her négociant label, Maison Leroy, for years before founding her own domaine. The Maison label still exists and is a great source for high quality wine throughout the Côte d'Or, but make no mistake about it, Domaine Leroy is an entirely different beast.
She adpoted biodymanic farming principles day one after purchasing Domaine Charles Noellat in 1988 and Domaine Philippe-Rémy in 1989. Lalou's demands and unyielding personality with regard to her own vines is something of a legend in Burgundy. There are small yields, overly-scrupulous vineyard managers, and then there is Madame Leroy.
Having worked alongside her rows in the Côte de Nuits I can tell you there are three things you notice immediately:
1. She keeps about half the amount of the clusters as the next most severe grower -often 4 clusters per vine, giving an average of 16 hectoliters per hectare.
2. Large sections of rows will be without vines as replanting is done carefully vine-by-vine using the most robust plant material from each respective vineyard. This magnifies the ripeness even more, as the amount of available energy within each vineyard is going to a more limited amount of vines.
3. Visually the most obvious, there is no hedging. This means long vertical shoots are tied in a circular fashion head high, à la Princess Leia.
So what is it that makes Domaine Leroy wines actually stand out in the glass? They carry a level of concentration that has no peer. The perfectionism adopted in the vineyard carries over to the cellar where, after two sorting tables, white grapes are pressed and aged in barrel without the use of pumps.
The whites of the domaine have that noble matchstick reductive element that only a handful of vignerons can perfect. Then double down with intensity and the added flash of gossamer texture and you have a pretty good picture. This reduction gives a fresh streak and unrelenting mineral grip that's the perfect counter to the high impact vintage Leroy ripeness.
Her old vine Aligoté is the perfect place to introduce yourself to the style of the domaine. At the lowest price in the country, today's offer from one of the most revered names in the world of wine is not to be missed!
2011 Domaine Leroy Bourgogne Aligoté
$74 per bottle.
2013 Domaine Leroy Bourgogne Aligoté
$74 per bottle.