Last night (Tuesday, 19 August), I attended a tasting of several of the 2004 the Burgundy wines of Leroy, Domaine Leroy and Domaine d'Auvenay (also owned by Lalou Bize-Leroy), the tasting of wines imported by Tomer Gal especially for the Wine and More (Hinawe) wine stores.
2004 was a difficult year for Burgundy reds, with hail storms and a plague of oidium plaguing the Cotes de Beaune and difficult weather conditions dominating in the Cotes de Nuits and a great many of the wines turned out to be on the dilute and acidic side. The good news is that the best estates managed by very careful selection of grapes to be used, and of often using grand cru grapes for both their village and even more ordinary wines. And, as seems to always be the case Lalou (I do not know her intimately but that's what everybody calls her) managed to pull off near miracles, her best wines showing remarkably true to their vineyards, finely balanced and with great elegance.
Since 1989, Domaine Leroy has been cultivating their vines using biodynamic methods. Whether one buys into human-controlled cosmic influences on the vines or not, no one will deny that having the vines free of all chemical treatments, weed killers, pesticides, fungicides, insecticide and artificial fertilizers together with great care for the soil and the vines themselves can only be good for the grapes and thus for the wines. Nor will very many deny that the admirable Lalou-Bize-Leroy demonstrates once again that she and her wines are at the very top of the food chain of Burgundy.
My thanks to Tomer Gal and to those at Wine and More for extending the invitation and for their courtesies during my visit. My tasting notes follow, those including Israeli prices in NIS and rough translation of those to American dollars. A special note about prices – although local (that is to say, Israeli) prices are considerably higher than those in the USA, these wines were made in relatively small quantities and will thus be difficult to find in the USA. Two guesses – (1) by the time most Israelis locate these wines abroad, they will be almost sold out and prices for those that remain will have risen considerably and (2) I cannot help but wonder if a few words with Nir, the manager of the Carlibach branch of Wine and More might not help in gaining a substantial discount.
Leroy, Bourgogne Blanc, 1999: Not only alive but alive and kicking! Light golden in color, crisply dry, with well focused fruits and an appealing floral overlay. Medium-bodied, with honeyed notes over the crisp citrus and pineapple fruits and a generous lemon-rind finish. Drink now-2009. Score 89. (Re-tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Leroy, Bourgogne Rouge, 1999: Light- to medium-bodied, light and almost watery in color, and opening slowly on the nose, disappointing at first but when the wine does open it does so very nicely indeed. With its appealing raspberry, cassis and cherry jam notes, remarkably soft tannins and hints of fresh forest floor, this one will remind some of a fine Gamay. Drink now-2010. NIS 254 (about US$ 70) Score 89. (Re-tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Domaine Leroy, Bourgogne Rouge, 2004: Pale ruby towards garnet, a bit cloudy at this stage of its development and with a light and tantalizing hint of Brett, opens nicely on the palate to show cassis, red plums and earthy notes on first attack, these followed by notes of mushrooms, tobacco and a hint of sea salt, with the fruits rising on the long finish. Best 2009-2013. NIS 732 (about US$ 203).Score 90. (Tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Domaine Leroy, Nuits-St.-George, 2004: Dull garnet, almost appearing watery, but that is misleading because this rich, almost muscular and generous medium- to full-bodied wine opens nicely on the nose and palate to reveal spring flowers and generous red berries and cassis fruits, those complemented nicely by notes of espresso coffee, garrique and, on the long, near-sweet finish, notes of smoky cedar wood. Give this one time to show its elegance. Best 2010-2020. NIS 2012 (US$ 560). Score 93. (Tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Domaine Leroy, Chambolle-Musigny, 2004: At one moment bright garnet, at another somewhat dull in color with a hint of brown, another of those Leroy wines whose color belies its excellence. On first attack raspberries and red plums, those opening to reveal generous granite- and flint-like minerals, garrique and a distinct note of iron (am I the only one to find that iron imparts a somewhat salty note?). Excellent balance between dense but soft tannins, acidity and fruits lead to a long and generous fruit-rich finish. Approachable and enjoyable now but best 2011-2025. NIS 2012 (about US$ 560) Score 94. (Tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Domaine Leroy, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2004: Medium-dark red towards garnet with a somewhat pale rim, again belying the richness to come. Still an infant but already showing balance and structure that bode very well for the future. On first attack generous earthy minerals and a note of jerked beef, those followed by red and black berries, black cherries, and spicy oak notes and from mid-palate on an appealing note of fresh forest floor. Approachable and enjoyable now but best 2011-2025, perhaps longer. NIS 2012 (about US$560). Score 93. (Tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Domaine Leroy, Vosne-Romanee, 2004: Medium- to dark ruby qua garnet, a concentrated, intense and finely-tuned wine. On the nose and palate a tempting array of red and black berries, red plums and black cherries, those matched handsomely by spices that play nicely on the palate, at one moment simple salt and pepper, at another a complex mixture of Oriental spices. A powerful wine at this stage, needing time to show its elegance and smoothness. As this one develops look for notes of wild flowers, forest floor and tantalizing hints of near-sweet smoked meat that will come into play. Approachable now but best 2010-2025, perhaps longer. NIS 2012 (about US$ 560). Score 95. (Tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Domaine d'Auvenay, Chambolle-Musigny, 2004: Raspberry towards dark cherry red, opening with earthy and citrus peel notes, opening in the glass to reveal raspberry, currant and citrus peel, all on a background of minerals. A deeply aromatic, fat wine with just the right level of acidity to keep it all in balance and on the super-long finish a tantalizing hint of bitter herbs. Approachable and enjoyable now despite its youth but don't hesitate to cellar this one until 2025. NIS 2541 (about US$ 700). Score 95. (Tasted 19 Aug 2008)
Domaine d'Auvenay, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2004: Ruby towards garnet in color, with a bit of traditional Lalou fading at the rim, opening with a near-sweet floral note on the nose and generous cherry fruits on the palate, those soon parting to make room for notes of wild berries, red currants and a light hint of smoky cedar wood that goes on well into the long, long finish. A bit astringent at this stage but no fear for all this one needs is a bit of time for its elements to come more fully together and reveal its elegance. A wine that is simultaneously hedonistic and "intellectual". Best 2012-2025, perhaps longer. NIS 2541 (about US$ 700). Score 94. (Tasted 19 Aug 2008)