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“The Natural Heir to Henri Jayer”: 2020 Ben Leroux Part II – Les Rouges

Posted on: 08/11/22 12:37 PM


SHOWSTOPPING


“Back in October of 2021, I ventured out of the US for the first time since COVID. Yes, it was surreal. But it was also pleasant in its own way: Terminal E at Boston Logan Airport was empty. Security took 3 minutes. And my flight to France had dozens of empty rows. Not seats, rows.



I was encountering the 2020s for the first time – what I would come to see as one of the truly great vintages of the past two decades. And, while, yes, we encountered a few clunkers, there were far more truly profound wines – complex, engaging, intense, and, frankly, simply delicious.

 

While we visited many top producers, two visits were by far the most impressive. And Benjamin Leroux was one of them.

These are – simply put – showstopping wines. There’s no other way to put it. Buy as much as you can. Because not only are these great, but there’s virtually nothing coming in 2021.

From previous offers: I would like to call Ben Leroux’ wines “Domaine,” rather than négociant. I know, technically, it’s not correct. After all, Benjamin only owns a small passel of his own vines, but he farms the vines himself or works only with growers who adhere to and follow the same strict demands he employed himself at Comte Armand, namely lutte raisonnée or biodynamism. There are no herbicides or pesticides employed in any of the vineyards and the rows are ploughed by horse. At present, more than 50% of the vineyards he exploits are certified organic or biodynamic.

Suffice to say, after his star turn with Comte Armand, and with the impressive results from his upstart Maison Benjamin Leroux, the press has been wild for these impressively opulent, intensely mineral and beautifully crafted wines. Just two examples:

“… wines … that rank alongside the illustrious names of Burgundy. He certainly has the gift of touch that seems to elevate everything from village crus to grand crus. ” – Neal Martin

“You may remember that when I asked Allen Meadows, aka Burghound, on this video who he thought might be a natural heir to the late great Henri Jayer of Burgundy, one of the two people he cited was young Benjamin Leroux of Domaine Comte Armand.” – Jancis Robinson, January 2009

In the cellar, the winemaking is as demanding and detail-oriented as it was at Comte Armand. The reds are also naturally fermented in tank or barrel fermented, depending on the appellation. Oak is used judiciously, no more than 40% new for any of the wines. Benjamin prefers, instead, to let the vineyards speak for themselves, prizing the purity of the fruit and natural concentration achieved by rigorous work in the vineyards.

It should be noted that, Benjamin has focused on Puligny and Volnay, and his style fits these appellations excellently: elegant, but powerful; regal, and seductive; aromatically intense and yet long and bright on the palate. Simply put, these wines are exceptional and I cannot recommend them to you more strongly.

After my visit to his winery and tasting through the range for several vintages now, I am convinced that these are wines to get in front of, as they represent some of the best work coming out of Burgundy today.

Benjamin Leroux represents the new order in Burgundy – wines that age miraculously and show their terroirs beautifully, and yet have a suavity and purity of fruit that drinks wonderfully well young. I can’t stress just how good these wines are, with legs to age, but an undeniable glory in their youth. Loading up here is not just wise … it’s necessary!



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Posted in Burgundy List By Ian Halbert