Friday, June 6, 2008

Leroy Tasting at Hinawi (June 3, 2008)

Leroy, the Domaine and the Maison, is of course one of the most venerable names in Burgundy. Which, as is the nature of the beast, comes with a hefty price tag and until this tasting, I was content to leave Leroy to the oligarchs and scratch another name off my shopping list. One less temptation, you know. And this tasting did little to change my mind. Leroy's wines are surely top-notch and inspired but my rule of thumb is they usually cost about twice as much as what I would pay.

According to importer Tomer Gal, all of the Maison wines are bought as finished wines and then bottled and aged until Madame Leroy deems them ready to drink. Which sometimes, as you'll see below, can take decades. She relies on her judgment to pick wines that can bear under her scrutiny and considers her standards to be so high that many village wines that live up to those standards will be sold at other merchants' Premier Cru prices and so on up the AOC ranks.

The tasting cost 290 NIS for 9 wines which considering the shelf price of these wines, is a bargain. Speaking of prices, the prices listed below were the ones offered at the tasting itself.

Whites

The three whites tasted all displayed a similar aromatic progession in glass, starting out shy and discreet and building up to a slightly pungent flintiness.

Montagny, 2002

The first impression I had when I sniffed the wine was "this is simply charming" and I can't really say whether that impression was influenced by the wine's humble origins but who cares? The starts out with light touches of oak over citrus fruits, roasted nuts and a light mineral essance that builds up to a more extroverted flintiness. The lightest bodied of the whites, yet so very balanced, classic and delicious. 289 NIS.

Meursault, 2000

Though Meursault is, off course, a much more famous village - and justifiably so - I think the Montagny gave a very good fight (I'd reckon both to be 90-pointers). Aromatically, the Meursault is more complete and yet a bit too generous and thus less challenging. There is a distinct aromatic similarity though the Merusault adds nut oil and a perfumed/flowery musk. The palate is longer and rounder, more fruity than the Montagny, but again, just a bit too friendly. 630 NIS.

Meursault, Premier Cru Charmes, 1990

A mature wine with plenty of freshness intact. On the nose, honey, baked pears, truffles and a submerged minerality that is more of an earthiness at first until it flares up as pungent flint. Long and with a firm backbone. Ripe, juicy acidity on the finish. 1100 NIS.

Red Wines

Bourgogne Rouge, 1999

I wasn't thrilled about this wine at first sip, as it seemed just an over-priced Bourgogne but in time I saw it was pretty much a village level wine, albeit a rustic one and as such a good value (if you can overlook the Bourgogne AOC on the label). Cherries and straberries on the nose, followed by earth and old leather. It's got weight and fair structure but relatively little finesse for a Pinot. 189 NIS.

Chorey-Les-Beaunes, 2000

A very weird nose, reminding me of a Gernam Pinot though I can't quite put my finger on the "why", maybe this similarity is due to a combination of fruity, liquerish ripeness and herbs, though in time it developed an animalistic overtone around the fringes which endeared it to me. The palate is much better, clean, focused and with a minerally finish. 450 NIS.

Monthelie, 1999

A beautiful nose, complex, tempting without being unduly flattering, with cherries, strawberries and an intirguing herbal mix. Tightly structured without loss of a certain casual elegance that can sometimes be overwhelmed by structure. The ripeness of the fruit is well balanced by the ripe acidity. Again, a minerally finish. 450 NIS.

Saint Aubin, 1993

The nose is vaguely distant with ripe fruit and interesting nuances that are hard to pin down because it's like a restless child and keeps drifting off, offering some beautiful moments but no continuity. The palate offers its own set of hurdles. It is rough and rustic without being powerful, starting out very well then fading in the middle. 599 NIS and obviously not a great value by my palate. Like I said, I find Leroy's wines to be overpriced but this one was just too much so.

Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru Dominode 1974

An odd nose, with an oxidized element that is almost Sherry-like, with leather and stew and some earth in the background. The plate is surprisingly fresh and it is a delicious wine but I'd expect such long aging to give me something more, more complexity, greater depth - but besides the thrill of drinking such a mature wine, I don't see its age as a great asset, epsecially considering the price tag that goes with the age. Which is 730 NIS.

Vosne-Romanee, 2004

This is the by now famous Domaine bottling which incorporates declassified Vosne Premier and Grand Crus. The story is that Madame Leroy was too affected by her husband's death to give the wines the attention she thinks they merit so she declassified all her wines across the board. So this is a blend of some Vosne-Romanee village, Premier Crus Les Chaumes and Les Brulees and Grand Crus Romanee St.Vivant and Richebourg.

Well, this is a great wine but I can't tell just how great as it is simply too young for me. Very murky-colored and a knockout nose that is already draping the fruit with minerals, earth, smoke and exotic spices. I know the term 'boquet' is supposed to be used for mature wines but its perfume is so beguiling, even now, it almost deserves the term. Very fresh and fruity on the palate with great length and structure. Very rewarding right now which is a good thing as I can't afford its 1490 NIS tag and so will most likely never encounter it again.

No comments: