Benjamin Leroux – The Good Stuff

31 Jul

All photography by James Broadway

Two weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a wine masterclass held by importers Bibendum Wine Co. at Comme in the city. The event was targeted at showcasing an ambitious, passionate and poetic young man named Benjamin Leroux whose 2010 French Burgundy wines under the same name we would be sampling.

Mr Leroux was born in Beaune in the Burgundy wine region to parents who were not in the grapegrowing industry. In fact, they were florists. An innate interest in beautiful smelling things meant that it wasn’t long before the wine bug began to hit. Mr Leroux was only thirteen years old when he admits he became impassioned and inquisitive about wine, trying the great bottles of the world with his well-connected family. By the age of 15 he was already enrolled into oenology school and at 23 was a burgeoning talent on the winemaking scene and ready to start a revolution in Burgundy. This ambitious undertaking could have happened in other circumstances but as Mr Leroux notes, a revolution will never happen in Burgundy. This did not deter the determined young winemaker. Mr Leroux soon began full-time work for the great Domaine des Epeneaux Comte Armand of Pommard. This work continues today but on the side in 2007 and with the help of friends, family and various industry contacts, he was able to fulfil his dream of creating his own wine label. Mr Leroux had an affinity for certain vineyards in the area for many years. Sometimes these terroirs were not the most well-known but he knew that they possessed a particular character worthy of being expressed individually. The results of the hard working team under Benjamin Leroux was highlighted with a great number of wines opened at this masterclass tasting (see notes below).

The afternoon concluded with Mr Leroux saying, “I will keep trying my best to make good stuff”. The crowd were grateful to hear that. This masterclass certainly proved that there is a loyal following of Burgundy lovers after this man’s pleasurable wares. It is fitting, considering that “having pleasure in life” is his life motto and “giving pleasure to people” is the focus of his work. Yes, Mr Leroux, you are the ultimate pleasure giver, and your positive influence can be seen by the reaction of Dan Sims to Travis Howe immediately after the tasting…

Dan Sims, Travis Howe, Comme, Coda, Wine Guide, Benjamin Leroux, wine masterclass

Masterclass Wine Highlights

Notes in italic from Bibendum

The 2010 vintage was difficult for the grape grower, with a cool and wet growing season and flowering happening quite late. This meant the fruit crop was small to begin with but with the resultant balanced continuity of ripening meant that the smaller crop was not necessarily a bad thing in terms of quality. 2010 is about balance and harmony and not concentration.

Benjamin Leroux Meursault 1er Cru Porusots 2010

This is Leroux’s second wine from this seldom seen 1er Cru. It comes from a small, organic parcel in the dessus, or ‘upper’, section of the vineyard, which is east-facing on a steep slope with very little top soil. A minority of fruit comes from 25 year old vines however this is buttressed with plenty of old-vine material (80+ years old). Porusots is known for being one of the most unctuous and earthy Meursault terroirs yet Leroux’s 2010 is bursting with citrus fruit and minerality; intense, silky, salty and quite savoury.

Benjamin Leroux Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot 2010

The Abbaye de Morgeot is situated in the southern part of the wider Morgeot 1er Cru on the down slope towards Santenay. It has a deep soil of marl and limestone with an obvious reddish tinge to the eye due to the presence of iron elements in its soil. Morgeots, like many of the large sites of the Côte d’Or, is in fact a collection of smaller terroirs. Some of these are richer in clay and were historically planted to red grapes. The lime-rich soils of the Abbaye de Morgeot lieu dit, like Tete du Clos, was historically known as “a white wine site” and produces one of the more elegant expressions of Morgeot, hence the separate labelling.

Great line of acidity lanolin richness with subtle oak.

Benjamin Leroux Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazees 2010

Another of Chassagne’s hidden gems, Embrazees can be bottled under the Bois del Chassagne name. This site sits right on the south western border of Chassagne above Tete du Clos and just below Les Baudines. So it is a terrific terroir with boney, shallow soils full of limestone pebbles. It is typically labeled as Embrazees even though the name on the map is in fact Embazees without the ‘r’. So pervasive is this practice that when Leroux tried to bottle his version with the correct spelling, sans ‘r’, it was rejected and he was forced to add the ‘r’ back! It’s a site noted for its minerality, a quality that this wine managed to deliver in spades.

Benjamin Leroux Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2010

Sadly the quantity made here is a miserly one or two barrels each year. The fruit comes from a tiny plot of Le Charlemagne on the Pernand side. In 2010, the site’s natural austerity is wonderfully balanced by a wave of beautifully ripe, yet balanced and pulpy textured fruit offering up a strikingly silky mouthfeel and a deliciously fine finish.

Like sticking your head in a fresh wine barrel with charry notes, beautifully balanced acidity, lanolin and intense yellow nectarine flavours with yellow peach flesh texture.

Benjamin Leroux Gevrey Chambertin 2010

Under screwcap closure. This comes from two good vineyards at the southern end of the appellation; Les Seuvrees with 50 year old vines, tucked up at the base of the Charmes Chambertin grand cru, and another highly regarded parcel, La Justice. This latter vineyard lies to the east of the town at a hollow in the hill that has benefited over the millennia from the alluvial deposits of diverse minerals. In other words, there is some great terroir going into this blend. Super elegant, seductive Gevrey with lots of class.

Displays beautiful elegance and softness right through to the finish with plenty of earthy and wild berry aromas.

Benjamin Leroux Mazoyeres Chambertin Grand Cru 2010

This is Mazoyeres dessus, the top part of the vineyard near Combottes and bordering Morey. Again a tremendously refined expression of Gevrey that will obviously need time to fully express itself.

Über-charry and swathed in dense earth, meaty aromas. A wine of substantial power and worth holding onto in the cellar.

One Response to “Benjamin Leroux – The Good Stuff”

  1. whineandcheersforwine August 1, 2012 at 5:49 AM #

    Lucky you getting to attend such an event. I need to be better connected 🙂
    Thank you.

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