Created by Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy in 1988, Domaine Leroy is considered by many today a pinnacle for quality in Burgundy. But there is one domaine just as consistent and even more exclusive. It should come as no surprise that that domaine – Domaine d’Auvenay – is the personal domaine of the same Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy.
As Clive Coates MW wrote of her, ‘How do you determine great? Is it size? Is it quality? Is it price? Is it ‘reputation’ (whatever that is)? Is it the amount of media coverage? However you compute it, the greatest domaines of Burgundy today must be those under the control of Lalou Bize: the Domaine Leroy and her own Domaine d’Auvenay. The estates of Jadot, Faiveley and Bouchard Père et Fils are far larger, that of Romanée-Conti the most splendid in terms of the percentage of grand cru terroir, but for the nobility of its wines, pride of place must go to Leroy and to Domaine d’Auvenay. The sheer concentration, depth and intensity Lalou Bize manages to squeeze into her bottles is breathtaking.’
Quantities produced at d’Auvenay are so small that even single bottles get seasoned Burgundy aficionados excited. But the chance to taste 6 examples in one night is not only exceptional – it is more useful than that. It allows us to really get to know the style. How could an evening of fine, rare Burgundy possibly be improved? Well, there is one way. By experiencing the d’Auvenay wines side by side with the most famous domaine for each terroir, we not only get to see relative quality, we also get to see relative style. This opportunity is made even more certain by pairing the same vintage each time for direct comparison.
So this evening we see Domaine d’Auvenay Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru paired with Domaines Dujac (’95), Roumier (’96), and de Vogüé (’98); for Mazis-Chambertin with Domaines Rousseau and Dugat-Py (both ’01); for Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru with Domaine Leflaive (’04), and for Puligny-Montrachet ‘Les Enseignères’ Domaine Coche-Dury (’13).
Does it really matter which is ‘best’? Maybe. But more importantly, here is the opportunity to appreciate, enjoy and understand such wines. After all, the total production of most of these Domaine d’Auvenay wines is less than 1000 bottles per year.