Beyond elusive … not even in my dreams. The red grands crus of Domaine Leroy and Domaine d’Auvenay are both very rare and very costly, but the whites are even further away from the snout of the Winehog.
Both the Chevalier-Montrachet and the Batard-Montrachet are in what I would call a league of their own, not to mention the d’Auvenay Criots-Batard-Montrachet and the focus of this article, Leroy Corton-Charlemagne. Even Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s Montrachet is struggling to keep up price-wise with these rarest of gems.
So while the d’Auvenay and Leroy whites are relatively unknown to the broader wine world, they are in high demand by the lucky few who can afford such treats, and who don’t blanch at shelling out for them.
Domaine Leroy and d’Auvenay – a bit of background
Mme. Lalou Bize-Leroy is the leading lady of Burgundy, with her roots in the very prestigious Maison Leroy that was founded by her great-grandfather Francois Leroy in 1868 – although he was selling wine already in 1851.
His son, Joseph Leroy, expanded the business, and his grandson Henri Leroy in 1942 acquired a large share in Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from Jacques Chambon, thus becoming co-owner with the de Villaine family.
In 1988, Mme. Bize-Leroy founded a new estate, Domaine Leroy, now one of the most prestigious estates in Burgundy.
Two years later, Mme. Bize-Leroy took over her father’s home and estate, Domaine d’Auvenay, buying out her older sister Pauline Roch (1929-2009). She then began to expand the estate with vineyards in both the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune – red and white – creating a boutique domaine alongside Domaine Leroy and Maison Leroy.
With a large share in DRC, Domaine Leroy and Domaine d’Auvenay, Mme. Bize-Leroy is a both prominent and dominant force in Burgundy, owning plots in almost all the top grand-cru vineyards from Montrachet to the Vosne-Romanée grands crus to Musigny, Bonnes-Mares and Chambertin. And also Corton-Charlemagne, to complete the list.
Corton-Charlemagne – at the top, yet not matching the top Montrachets
Corton-Charlemagne is considered by many to be the best white vineyard outside Puligny and Chassagne (perhaps not counting the elusive white Musigny).
In my world, the classification is correct in general: Montrachet first, Chevalier- and Batard-Montrachet second and third, and Criots- and Bievenues-Batard-Montrachet fourth (and sometimes third in the best cases).
Tasting a great Corton-Charlemagne, however, does make me wonder if it’s not on a par with Criots and Bienvenues. Even Meursault Perrieres is in this league when made by Coche-Dury. So perhaps the classification should be:
- Meursault Perrieres
The Domaine Leroy plots of Corton-Charlemagne
Mme. Bize-Leroy acquired her parcel of Corton-Charlemagne just after establishing Domaine Leroy in 1988, as the first vintage she produced of the wine was 1989. Please note that Maison Leroy – her negociant business – also produced Corton-Charlemagne from time to time.
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