On the 19th of April we received Benjamin Leroux in Shanghai for his second ever visit to China.
After having participated in our Burgundy weekend at the Peninsula in Beijing last year, this was Ben’s first visit to Shanghai and the events kicked off with a dinner held at the Michelin-starred restaurant Phenix at the Puli Hotel in Jing’An.
Alongside with the 20 guests we tasted through a range of Ben’s wines, going from the freshly released 2015s back to his first solo-vintage: 2007.
After a brief introduction of the estate and Ben’s working philosophy, we went straight into two whites: 2011 Meursault Porusot and 2015 Corton Charlemagne. The Porusot comes from 90yr old vines and has an intensity and level of dry extract that make it a truly fascinating wine. Remarkably fresh and capable of ageing for at least a decade or more, this not an easy wine to like, but both Ben and I hugely enjoyed it. Compared to this, the 2015 Charlemagne was a real crowd-pleaser: rich, superbly aromatic and concentrated it had everything you could hope for in a 2015 white Grand Cru.
From this point on, we moved into the reds: starting with a pair of 2007 Volnay Roncerets and 2010 Nuits St Georges Aux Thorey en magnum. The Roncerets was one of the first wines Leroux made under his own label, and as he saw it to be a very rustic effort in its youth, he hasn’t really released much of it until last year. At this stage, however, it has developed into a fantastic, classical rendition of Volnay; aromatic, elegant, and juicy it is a most civilised wine to drink now and over the next decade at least. Very much representative of the vintage and parcel, it was a perfect illustration of Ben’s style with a wine that is just about to start drinking in its prime.
From then on, we moved into more serious things and the Grand Crus. First up was a 2013 Corton, which is still a few years away from really opening up, but can be enjoyed with plenty of air. Next came a magnum of 2009 Bonnes Mares, which usually counts among Ben’s finest wines. Whilst the Nuits Thorey just about started to drink well, the Bonnes Mares still needs a few years to really strut its stuff. That being said, it’s an impressive, very rich wine.
Finally, came arguably the rarest wines of the evening: 2011 and 2012 Griottes Chambertin. Only around 2 barrels of this are made per year, which are exclusively sold to Hong Kong, making it one of the wines that few have a chance to taste. Incredibly, spicy, aromatic and definitely more elegant than the Bonnes Mares, these were unsurprisingly some of the favourite wines of most guests.
This was a fantastic journey through Ben’s evolution as a winery and the stylistic changes that took place during this period. Having taken possession of more and more vineyards in the last years, it will be exciting to follow him over the next decade or two to come!