Benjamin Leroux

The Rise and Rise of a Burgundy Wunderkind

Benjamin Leroux is widely considered to be one of the most gifted and knowledgeable wine growers in all the Côte d’Or. Born and bred in Beaune, Leroux has always been considered a prodigy, studying at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune from age 15 and taking the reins at the esteemed Domaine Comte Armand when he was just 24. Leroux would stay at Comte Armand for fifteen vintages, while simultaneously launching his eponymous négociant operation in 2007.

In 2014 Leroux left Comte Armand—in great shape, we might add—to concentrate on his young venture. The first stage of his evolution allowed him to establish the winery (in the old Jaboulet-Vercherre premises off the Beaune périphérique) and refine his ideas and understanding of the terroirs with which he wanted to work. The way Leroux structured this side of his business was highly innovative. His aim was to create the same quality standards of the finest domaines, despite not owning most of the vineyards. He has long-term relationships with the growers he works with, some of which he pays by land area rather than the quantity of fruit harvested. This allows him to dictate lower yields, ripeness, date of harvest, and so on. He only works with high-quality growers who plough or do not use herbicides or pesticides. Most are organic or biodynamic. For those that are not, there is an understanding that they will move to organics over five years.

Leroux’s knowledge of the Côte is encyclopaedic, and he has unearthed some very exciting, previously less well-known terroirs for his portfolio. It’s important not to underestimate how close Leroux works with these growers, as that is one of the keys to his ability to coax the finest fruit quality from the vineyards. He never buys juice or finished wine, only fruit; he nominates the harvest dates and will pick himself if necessary.

“He certainly has the gift of touch that seems to elevate everything from village crus to grand crus.” Neal Martin, Vinous

In tandem with his excelling négociant business, Leroux has quietly been building up his family’s impressive domaine holdings, which now run to eight hectares. Though he worked these vineyards organically and biodynamically from the beginning, it took him several years to apply for organic certification, which came in 2016. Ben’s first vineyard purchase was a 0.16-hectare slice of Batard-Montrachet in 2009, though most of Leroux’s white vineyards lie in Meursault and include crown jewel parcels in Genevrières-Dessus and Charmes-Dessus. For the reds he farms his beloved Blagny 1er Cru La Pièce Sous le Bois, in Volnay Santenots and there are a number of small parcels in Vosne-Romanée.

In terms of winemaking, this has been one of the most dynamic cellars on the Côte for fifteen years. 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 generalise about the winemaking. We can say that the cellar is using more and more 600-litre, 1200-litre, and even larger casks for the whites; and more 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). Likewise, to generalise about Leroux’s winemaking decisions, such as using whole bunches, is like trying to hit a moving target: in any given year, Leroux works with between 0% and 90%! Since 2018, Leroux has used a cold room to preserve bunches overnight, at under 13°C, resulting in a cool, slow start to fermentation.

Every year this thoughtful and precise grower keeps hitting a higher bar, continually adapting to each vintage and the ever-changing climate. He remains one of the most talented and learned winegrowers in Burgundy, and although he can release as many as fifty different wines in any given year, they are all at an astonishingly high standard. Indeed, don’t be misled by the number of wines he offers. His smallest parcel is 0.06 hectares, and many of his sites are not much bigger: most wines are produced in the one-to-five-barrel range.

The Range

Benjamin Leroux Beaune 1er Cru Les Cent-Vignes 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Beaune 1er Cru Les Cent-Vignes 2021

Natural cork. This is our second allocation of Leroux’s Les Cent-Vignes. Leroux has been working with a grower here since 2015. Convinced of the quality, he purchased the 0.5-hectare plot in 2021, so from next year’s release, this will be a domaine-owned bottling. The plot, on Cent-Vignes’ brown grèze litée gravels, is planted to two parcels. There’s a section of 50-year-old vines, as well as a young plot planted in 2016. Leroux told us that the blend of the two parcels is complementary; the old vines bring depth and intensity, while the younger vines contribute freshness. Les Cent-Vignes is one of the first vineyards you encounter if you’re heading west out of Beaune. Leroux told us he is delighted to be working in the appellation and would welcome more sources “without hesitation”. Along with the brilliant wines of David Croix, we are delighted to be offering another top grower’s wines from Beaune. It is certainly an underrated village, now on the rise.

“This vineyard was purchased in 2021 but the exploitant continues to run the vines for the moment. Lighter in colour, with a prettily perfumed nose. Really stylish, with grace length and elegance. Neither frost nor disease issues here apparently.”
90-92 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“This newly-purchased parcel will make an excellent addition to Leroux's lineup. The charming, forward fruit of the 2021 is one of the successes of his portfolio this year. The light ruby colour gives no hint of the pronounced cherry fruit, floral and mineral accents and touch of salinity that one finds on the palate. The body is light, but there is real ripeness here and a great purity to the fruit leading to a lingering finish.”
93 points, Charles Curtis MW, Decanter
Benjamin Leroux Beaune 1er Cru Les Cent-Vignes 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin 2021

Natural cork. The 2021 Gevrey hails from 50-year-old vines in Les Seuvrées (bordering Morey) and the northern, limestone-rich La Justice and Les Crais. Some old vines in Les Jeunes Rois and fruit from Champerrier and En Champs (each on the Brochon side of the appellation), complete the picture. And ‘complete’ is the operative word. There’s no doubt the old vines of Jeunes Rois bring a greater dimension to this cuvée, and we’re glad Leroux decided to keep it in the blend. (It’s so good that he has been tempted to bottle this parcel as a separate cuvée.) On the technical side, each parcel was vinified separately before blending, 80% of the fruit was destemmed, and the wine aged in 600-litre and 225-litre barrels (20% new). 

“Excellent fine bright purple. Clean and fresh, with plenty of red fruit energy. There is a crispness and precision which works really well, small red berries, Now Benjamin gets a lot of fruit from Brochon which really helps. He may do single vineyard bottlings in future.”
89-91 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“The 2021 Gevrey-Chambertin Village comes mostly from Brochon. It has a straightforward bouquet that is a little backward at first, with undergrowth and touches of tobacco. The palate has commendable weight and really fills the mouth with no hard edges. It's super-easy to drink with a sweet ripe finish. This will be ready to rock within months of bottling.”
87-89 points, Neal Martin, Vinous
Benjamin Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans 2021

Natural cork. ‘Mitans’ derives from the old French for centre, and this is likely the source of the name as this Cru lies at the heart of the appellation (on the slopes beneath the village). Leroux’s 0.65-hectare parcel is close to the Volnay 1er Cru Clos de la Barre and encroaches into the Mitans l’Ormeau lieu-dit. The soil here is fine clay shot through with limestone, and the vines are, on average, 50 years old. There is just a pinch of whole bunch this year. Les Mitans is considered one of the most elegant, fine-boned and cerebral expressions of Volnay, and this is certainly the case with Leroux’s pretty 2021. 

“Half a crop, 6 barrels made. Once again this is paler in colour. A pretty elegant bouquet, à la Volnay. Not huge in volume, a bit of strawberry, just enough fruit to reach the back, but one of the more delicate wines of the vintage, albeit persistent.”
89-91 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Benjamin Leroux Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons 2021

Natural cork. The vines here are owned by one of Leroux’s close friends and are sited in the heart of the Premier Cru, on the east-facing, Beaune side of Savigny. This tends to be the source of the most elegant Savigny wines—so, perfect for powerful years. Like most of the terrain in the Côte d’Or, the soils here are clay/limestone, but the clay here is light and sandy. Therefore, although there’s more flesh here than in the village cuvée, there is also greater finesse. The 2020 fermented with only a pinch of whole bunch. It’s an excellent-value Premier Cru that always drinks well from release—but this will certainly benefit from at least short-term aging (three to seven years). 

“Just finished its malolactic, last week. Despite that, there is a lovely perfume to this 2021 Haut Jarrons, pure and clean. Pure raspberry on the palate, then the coolness, and a touch of fresh oak to finish. Still finding its way, but with promise.”
89-91 points, Jasper Morris, Inside Burgundy
Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune 2021
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Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune 2021

Screwcap. The lion’s share of this vintage comes from the outstanding Aux Fourneaux lieu-dit in the north of the village. Leroux works with lots of Pinot Fin here (a high-quality, low-yielding cultivar of Pinot Noir); vines that give low yields and great concentration. Les Conardises also contributed this year, and both parcels were fully destemmed. The wine was matured in 600-litre barrels. 

“Also quite a pale colour. The bouquet is a little more pronounced in fresh raspberry fruit, pleasing rather than massive. Very stylish, with a good fruit acid balance. A fine and balanced Savigny without rusticity.”
87-90 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune 2021
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“You may remember that when I asked Allen Meadows, aka Burghound, 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

“Benjamin Leroux is quiet and unassuming, but his wines more than speak for themselves ... These are some of the most interesting wines being made in Burgundy today.” Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate 

Country

France

Primary Region

Côte de Beaune

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Winemaker: Benjamin Leroux

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