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A Dinner-Date: Domaine Leroy

empty bottlesDomaine Leroy (Vosne-Romanée) – well would you turn down the chance to really drink (no ‘tasting’ here) 12 different bottles (2004-1966) with a wide selection of food at a Michelin-starred restaurant? No, neither would I

The cost was actually less than a bottle of the ’66 Chapelle-Chambertin that we finished our dinner with – I would consider that value!

Our venue was the Hotel Adler (Eagle) – about 20 minutes from Luzerne – the hotel’s restaurant has, over many years, enjoyed a strong reputation for cuisine. This reputaion was amply justified by what we consumed – the food was uniformly excellent – I might also add that the service was very well executed too. Promoting these recent release wines was the well-known Swiss retailer Max Gerstl, but this was no hard-sell, rather a bunch of enthusiastic tasters sitting together with very good food. Max had taken-up this allocation ‘blind’, so this was also his first tasting of the wines.

All the wines were opened at the table and poured immediately – on average I think the last drop was drunk 20-30 minutes after pouring. One note/caveat; I didn’t have time (okay, okay – I didn’t remember after 12 bottles!) to interogate Max, but he did arrive with a couple of cases in-hand only 1 hour before dinner – maybe these were the Leroys, or maybe these were other wines for the restaurant, but neither of the two 66 reds were shiny-bright. So might fare even better at home if these were not ‘rested’!

One suffered for one’s art with the following:

  • Amuse-bouche
  • Gänselebertortchien mit Apfel und Balsamicogelée dazu hausegemachtes Brioche
  • Atlantik Steinbuttt grilliert auf Selleriepurée, im Petersliensud
  • Kürbissuppe mit Ochsenschwanzerépinette
  • Hausgemachte Brasatoravioli mit frischen Steinpilzen
  • Gefüllte Wachtel auf Trüffelrisotto
  • Altishofer Kalbrücken mit herbstlichem Gemüse und Kartoffelstock
  • Käseteller vom “Chas Barmettler” Luzern
1997 Leroy SA, Bourgogne Blanc  try to find this wine...
Pale golden. The nose shows hints of grapefruit and a faint oxidative note – though certainly not oxidised – together with high-toned alcoholic notes. Some sweetness in the mouth, racy and lithe, quite linear. Good persistence and surprisingly little obvious ’97 character. Despite showing very little overt fruit character this is a young wine. Interesting and no rush to drink.
1996 Leroy SA, Meursault 1er Cru Perrières  try to find this wine...
Golden. A honied nose – very Meusault, but less-so Perrières – wide with a peach-stone core. Surprisingly sweet with good fat and intensity. The acidity is good but very well covered. This is not the best Perrières I’ve tasted, it is a good but not a great one. As far as the value is concerned, however, this is by far the most interesting of this flight of wines.
1966 Leroy SA, Meursault Peruzot  try to find this wine...
Golden, with just a little brown. Plenty of oxidative notes on the nose, wide, lanolin, toffeed. There is phase where this is like an old Graves, eventually becoming creamier, then sweet apple-skins and treacle tart before stabilising as tarte-tartin, the oxidative notes remain. Super acidity with mouthwatering length, the toffeed oxidation runs like a spine through the wine, but it never becomes sherryish, this wine is very-much alive. It’s a style that I don’t love yet I’m terribly impressed by, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this wine improved for the whole of the 25 minutes it lasted in my glass.
2004 Domaine Leroy, Bourgogne Rouge  try to find this wine...
Medium-pale colour – surprisingly pale considering it contains (lots of) Grand Cru juice. The nose is fantasticly penetrating and floral, eventually turning very smoky from a high percentage of stems. The palate is lithe and athletic, perhaps a little thin for the forward acidity. I really expected more intensity given the provenance of this wine. A fantastic nose, in the end it really reminded me of Dujac’s ’95 Clos de la Roche, but for this bottle the palate has a lot of catching up to do. The nose compelled me to buy a couple of bottles but I’m still not convinced of the value.
2004 Domaine Leroy, Vosne-Romanée  try to find this wine...
Medium colour. A smokey and wide though less intense nose than the Bourgogne; it does deepen with time and shows real (if understated) complexity. Versus the Bourgogne there is a perceptible extra density and length, the acidity is more fully covered. There is just a hint of bitterness though no astringency to the tannin. Long, long, long. It is a seriously interesting and complex wine but I find it hard to reconcile that it should contain Richebourg and Romanée St.Vivant – at least Leroy’s! There is some value here I think, though like the Bourgogne, it is the aromatics that excel today.
1966 Leroy SA, Corton Grand Cru  try to find this wine...
Medium colour, only a little amber at the rim – belies its 40 years – there’s a healthy dose of ‘solids’ in the bottom of my glass so not totally bright. The nose starts wide and quickly gets deeper and deeper, very interesting and not a little ‘glossy’ in aspect. The nose goes much deeper than the Vosne if considerably less spicy and smokey. The first impression is sweetness, just a little bite to the tannin and freshness – squeaky clean in fact. This wine is long, seriously long. I must say it’s hard to pick specifics (it’s always the same with old reds), this is an incredibly impressive wine that went perfectly with the ravioli dish. A timeless wine that given age, quality and provenance, shows good value, though surprisingly I didn’t get the ‘wow’ factor.
1966 Leroy SA, Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru  try to find this wine...
Medium colour, like the 66 Corton only a little amber at the rim and also like the Corton, not totally bright. The nose is really wide and interesting, lots of high-toned aspects – perhaps a little lifted – over a base of Gevrey earth. Really perfect, wonderful satin texture. The balance is exceptional, you have to search out the components as they meld together so brilliantly well – nothing sticks out – apart (of-course) for the explosion on the mid palate – this is a dynamite wine – and the super length. This provided the ‘wow’ factor, and did so after following the Latricières! Value is personal, but I see it in spades here.
2003 Domaine Leroy, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Narbantons  try to find this wine...
Deep colour. The nose is dense and tight; there’s a little oak-gilded black fruit, only deepens a little after 25 minutes in the glass. Lower acidity than the 04’s, though quite well balanced. The finish is dominated by toasty oak – though not ashy. After the 04’s this is rather ponderous and extracted – there is also perceptible petillance – but it would be a shame to judge this so young, particularly after the ultra-different 2004’s that preceded it. Revisit when it’s 15 years old, but given the price (3 times the price of the 1999) I won’t be joining the ride!
2003 Domaine Leroy, Chambolle-Musigny Les Fermiers  try to find this wine...
Deep colour. The nose starts rather closed and meaty, only widening a little over its alloted time in the glass though the nose did eventually become a little more fruit-driven. Versus the Narbantons, this seems to have a better balance and seems less obviously extracted, though the first impression is of a shorter finish. The oak is a little less dominant and slowly the finish seems to open out and become a little creamy. This wine is quite a bit more expensive than de Vogüés young vines Musigny – (i.e. the Chambolle premier cru) and Mugnier and Drouhin’s Musignys – I know where my cash would be.
2003 Domaine Leroy, Nuits St.Georges  try to find this wine...
Deep cherry-red. The nose is dense, tight and toasty, only slowly opening but in doing so hints at the same intense floral note of the 04 Bourgogne. Lots of action on the palate, perhaps caused by the petillance. The tannins are much more noticeable though not astringent. This is a very nice wine but it’s hard to see the value.
2003 Domaine Leroy, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Combottes  try to find this wine...
Deep colour. After the Nuits the nose is more mineral and wide showing mainly black fruits, time in the glass only adds to the intensity. The palate is lithe, muscular and again black shaded. There’s real intensity and length – this wine comes across as less typical of 2003. Versus the Nuits this has a different level of refinement, focus and, frankly, class. A Fantasic wine that would outperform many grand crus – shame it costs double the price of the Nuits.
2003 Domaine Leroy, Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru  try to find this wine...
Deep colour. The nose shows more than a passing resemblance to the Combottes but is more tightly wound – it does take on a more musky and heavy impression with time but never opens out to the level of that wine. Über-concentration, achingly intense in the mid-palate and super-long. Behind is (almost) hidden tannin with just an edge of grain. This is Combottes’ bigger brother, seems less mineral and focused but then that could the masking effect of the extra concentration. Leave the glass still for a while and it fills with toasty oak aromas. Very expensive, but very impressive too.

3 responses to “A Dinner-Date: Domaine Leroy”

  1. RG

    It is such a treat to read your website. Thank you.

    I had the 1966 Leroy Corton recently and it was excellent. The structure and freshness was immediate but the layers of complexity took 3 hours to fully reveal itself. As with most great Burgundy, it is unfortunate that you were not allowed the time to let the younger wines of the dinner unfold and harmonize with oxidation.

    I was told recently that Madame Leroy is doing unusual things with some of her vines, forming a sort of lattice or canopy with them. Do you know anything about that?

  2. Tobias Gschwendtner

    Hi RG, hi Bill,

    I haven´t heard anything special about her vines, I rather heard something special abour her wines, more specific, her wine-making. Have you heard about manipulating-methods (concentrateur, enzymes, for example) in the cellar? Well, success and high prices may effect unjustifiable rumours like these (see also Remington Norman´s book about Burgundy, chapter about Leroy). Nevertheless, has anyone infirmation on that term? Maybe the reasons for Patriat leaving Leroy are in line with these roumors?

    Yours,
    Tobias

  3. 1998 jean-marc boillot puligny-montrachet

    [...] 1998 Jean-Marc Boillot, Puligny-Montrachet This has medium colour, but the colour is hovering somewhere between golden and orange. The first aromas are tight, slightly honeyed but as it opens the oxidative character comes to the fore. In the mouth there’s good acidity, sweetness and above-average density – it’s quite silky too. Particularly impressive length with intensity and many dimensions that include creamy, caramelised fruits. It starts as borderline drinkable for someone who dislikes oxidation, but fills out with ever-more complexity and interest – indeed, after a couple of hours it became very drinkable with hints of caramel and toffee pushing the oxidative aspects from center-stage. Rebuy – No Last drunk in 2005, this was a very tasty bottle. This is prematurely oxidised for sure – whether it’s the virulent ‘random’ strain of p.ox, I cannot say, but the level of oxidation was about on the same level as a 40 year old Leroy Meursault drunk here… [...]

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