Last week we tasted nine of the wines from this offer in a Zoom link-up with Benjamin in Burgundy. We loved them all. Our notes are included below with plenty of third-party praise as well. 2019 is a ripe vintage, yet nothing extreme. They show the elegance of a cooler year, yet are a little more fleshy than the 2018 vintage. They are very approachable now. It’s a fantastic vintage for both red and white and from the quality of the wines tasted, we can strongly recommend the entire offering. Benjamin thinks it’s his second-best vintage ever, after 2010. Ian & Ches Cook, FWC.
"Leroux’s whites were exceptionally successful. And if I absolutely had to say which colour I favoured from 2019, based on all the wines tasted so far, it would probably be white, whose yields were generally much lower than the reds, often shrunk by frost.” Jancis Robinson MW
“Another excellent range from Benjamin Leroux in both colours in 2019... This is certainly the finest range of reds I have ever tasted from Ben...” Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“He certainly has the gift of touch that seems to elevate everything from village crus to grand crus.” Neal Martin, Vinous
Firstly, the wines are delicious—crazy delicious—in both colours. The confluence of gorgeously ripe and fleshy fruit and excellent acidities has ensured manna from heaven for growers and drinkers alike. Despite the apparent ripeness, the wines retain great freshness, finesse, sublime textures and vineyard transparency. Across both red and white, these are arguably the finest Leroux wines we have shipped. Leroux himself considers 2019 as one of the top two Burgundy vintages he has produced. (We’re guessing the second is 2010).
Jasper Morris has called Leroux’s 2019s excellent in both colours yet singled out “the finest range of reds I have ever tasted from Ben...”. Going by the small sample of five reds we tasted on Tuesday, we have no cause to disagree. Alternatively, the whites seem just as strong—with Jancis Robinson rightly calling them “...exceptionally successful”. Jancis went on to state that it is the whites from Leroux’s 2019 vintage, in general, that she favours.
To simplify, while the climate records may file the vintage under the warm and dry bracket, the growers will tell you 2019 was not a year with the extremes encountered at times in 2018 and 2020. Winter was certainly dry, but the growing season was not especially so, nor was it an exceptionally early harvest.
So on paper, and in the glass, 2019 looks more like a modern classic than anything else.
Going some way to explain the density and flesh apparent in the wines of 2019 were the low, if not catastrophic, yields. The dry winter and two episodes of frost in April had an impact here, before a period of windy, damp weather at flowering further reduced the crop potential. Leroux estimates he was down 30% on 2018, and around 15% down on an average vintage. Gevrey, Puligny and Chassagne were more significantly affected than other communes. This reality, plus an evolution in sourcing means there is no Corton-Charlemagne or Morey-St-Denis for 2019, and no Gevrey 1er from Goulots, Perrières, or Champeaux. Volumes in Chassagne were also well down. On the plus side, some of these losses were compensated by good yields in Meursault and Vosne Romanée.
For many years, this has been one of, if not the most dynamic cellar on the Côte in terms of winemaking. Leroux works with some 50 appellations, and every wine has its own bespoke treatment according to the conditions of each vintage. This makes it difficult—and sometimes misleading—to try and generalise certain aspects of his élevage. We can say that in the large, the cellar is constantly moving away from traditional, smaller format oak, and towards 600-litre and 1200- to 1500-litre foudre for the whites, and 450-litre to 600-litre barrels for the reds. It is also becoming moot to talk of new oak, of which so little is now used (especially for the whites). Then, we have to make a distinction between oak use in fermentation and élevage.
For some years, Leroux has been using his new oak quota to ferment small portions of his white cuvées, whereby after roughly six to eight weeks, the wines are transferred to used, larger format vessels. These ‘new’ barrels are then used to age the reds (which in turn, also leads to less oak impact here). In 2019 only a single white was aged within a portion of new wood, and that was the Bâtard-Montrachet. So, when the notes below may mention “20% new oak” for example, we’d like you to be aware of the ambiguity. (In future offers, we may do away with these percentages entirely). Likewise, to generalise about Leroux’s winemaking decisions such as the use of whole bunches is like trying to hit a moving target: in 2019 Leroux worked between 0% and 80%!