The name Domaine d’Auvenay is inextricably linked with that of winemaking legend Lalou Bize-Leroy. Madame Leroy is truly a master of her art, producing microscopic quantities of magnificent wines of unrivalled intensity and concentration that are exceptionally true to the unique terroir of each of her vineyards.
Madame Bize-Leroy hails from a family of Burgundian “”royalty””. Her father Henri operated his grandfather Joseph’s négociant business, Maison Leroy, with such success that in 1942 he acquired a 50% stake in Burgundy’s most iconic estate, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. DRC is co-owned by the Leroy/Roche and de Villaine families to this day. Bize-Leroy eventually stepped back from Romanée-Conti and focused on her family business. She had expanded the family portfolio in 1988 with the purchase of new vineyards and began to make wine under the name Domaine Leroy, at the same time as pursuing her own personal passion project, Domaine d’Auvenay.
Comprising just 4 hectares of vines in miniscule parcels spread over 16 different appellations – including Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru, Criots Batard Montrachet Grand Cru and Batard Montrachet Grand Cru – the name d’Auvenay today is synonymous with some of the finest, rarest and most prized wines to be found anywhere in the world. Along with the top vineyards, D’Auvenay’s aligoté is much-coveted. Bize-Leroy has proven that aligoté is a grape that can be fascinating when treated with care, and several other Burgundy producers are now reviving this deserved variety.
In the vineyard, Bize-Leroy practises a fastidious form of biodynamic and chemical-free viticulture that requires endless hours attending to each individual vine, all of which have a notably high average age. Exhausted vines are replaced by massale selection – germinating new life using cuttings from the finest old vines in each vineyard. Strict pruning and bud removal restricts yields to as low as 4 bunches per vine. Each individual grape is given a meticulous inspection both pre-harvest and on the sorting table, before arriving in whole bunches into the fermentation vats.
Yields are extremely low. In 2010, the D’Auvenay production averaged 10 hectolitres per hectare with the 2019 harvest so memorably low that just a single barrel of each cuvée was produced. These ultra-low yields create superb wines, but so tight and concise in their early years that it is imperative to allow them enough time and rest to come into their own. This process is overseen by Bize-Leroy herself, whose philosophy is to distribute her wines when she believes they are truly ready for presentation, regardless of vintage year or market demand.
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