Domaine Leroy   Chambolle Les Fremieres

2011 Chambolle Les Fremieres

By Domaine Leroy

2011 Chambolle Les Fremieres from Domaine Leroy, Burgundy, France

The 2011 vintage in Burgundy was a year marked by contrasts, a test of a vigneron's mettle, with climatic whims leading to reduced yields. Yet, it is precisely these vintages that separate the wheat from the chaff, allowing a domain of the calibre of Domaine Leroy to transcend mere weather. The 2011 Chambolle Les Fremieres is a testament to the adroit hand of Lalou Bize-Leroy and her team under such capricious skies.


Articulate Expression of Terroir and Time

In 2011, vignerons across Burgundy faced a race against time with an early start followed by a bafflingly cool and wet August. Nevertheless, Domaine Leroy's vigilant guardianship over their cherished Chambolle Les Fremieres vineyard has yielded a wine of exquisite equipoise. The fruit, although harvested earlier than usual, reveals an inimitable elegance that imbues this particular interpretation of Pinot Noir with a dignified grace. Fine tannins and luminous acidity are harmonized in a balletic display of vinous finesse rare for such a challenging year.


Investment Worthy: An Ode to Superior Winemaking

In the context of fine wine investment, the allure of Domaine Leroy's creations is well established. The 2011 Chambolle Les Fremieres resonates with collectors who understand the rarity imbued by the vintage's unique conditions, enhancing its desirability. Moreover, this wine elevates its investment potential through its stellar ageing capacity; it presents an opportunity to secure a slice of Burgundian history poised for graceful evolution.

To partake in the Chambolle Les Fremieres from this year is not simply to savour fine wine; it is an engagement with nuances sculpted by nature's hand and refined by human artistry. The 2011 vintage bears witness to exceptional dedication, resulting in a wine that eloquently articulates its origin – one that sophisticated investors and gala party claret jugs will covet equally for its narrative as much as its sensory delight.

Domaine Leroy has, through adept craftsmanship and profound respect for their terroir, nurtured not just vines but also an understanding among connoisseurs that even vintages like 2011 can yield treasures. With 2011 Chambolle Les Fremieres emerging as one such gem from Burgundy, it affirms the wisdom in following viscerally the pulse of each year's offering.

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The 2011 Chambolle-Musigny Les Fremieres unfurls in the glass: blackberry, raspberry leaf and touches of oyster shell. The palate is full in the mouth: a Chambolle with fine volume, just a touch of graininess with hints of cooked meat infused the red fruit profile that lends it a savory feel. There is lovely length here. The finish is understated, leaving just a touch of soy lingering at the back of the mouth. Since I started visiting chateaux and growers in 1997, I have been fortunate to have ticked off most of my personal Holy Grails, yet a handful remain. One was to visit Domaine Leroy and taste with Lalou Bize-Leroy, who I have only met briefly on two occasions in London. Given the responsibility of covering Burgundy, I avowed to tick that one off as soon as possible. So, on a sultry Thursday morning, I finally pulled into the pebbled courtyard of her winery in the village of Vosne with maybe just a single butterfly fluttering around inside. Lalou was stepping out of her 4x4, beloved dogs yapping around their mother and perhaps warning her of an intruder in their midst. They are not exactly cut out to be guard dogs – no offence intended. Lalou was exactly how I remembered – with her wiry frame, like a titanium alloyed twig. Her piercing hawk-like blue eyes and angular cheekbones would give Kate Moss a run for her money. She was attired like a fashionable thirty-something and exuded the vivacity of a twenty-something with a penchant for the occasional rock climb. After pleasantries we discussed her belief in biodynamism and the ways in which the cosmos affects Mother Nature down to the Earth’s core. We toured the rudimentary winery occupied by the black-painted wooden vats and then down below to a vaulted tasting room, bottles lying hither and thither of what must constitute every wine she has made since acquiring Charles Noellat’s holdings in 1988 to establish Domaine Leroy. She was courteous to the point of occasionally scolding herself for vocally enthusing about the wines, mindful of not disturbing my perspicuity. Did the wines stand up to their reputations and let us face it, stratospheric price? The answer is “Yes.” Here was a master-class in terroir: the wines made in almost identical fashion in the winery, so that what is perceived in bottle is the interplay between Mother Nature and vine (under the guiding hand of Rudolph Steiner philosophy). Of course, one must always remain objective, and I have been around the block enough times to simply relate precisely what I find within the radius of a wineglass. And in 2011, it was clear that the wines of Lalou Bize-Leroy seemed to deliver a sensational level of quality that would make most winemakers curl up and weep, asking: “How does she do it?” I had to inquire at the end of the tasting whether they were all matured entirely in new oak, so seamlessly was the wood embroidered into each cuvee. Tasting through the entire range of 23 wines, before zooming down to Domaine d’Auvenay, the high points were scintillating Nuits-St-Georges Village Crus that transcended all my expectations and the sheer consistency of the Grand Crus, perhaps with the exception of the 2011 Latricieres-Chambertin, which I have always found wanting in the past. The Romanee-St-Vivant could be the apotheosis of the vintage, certainly one of the finest that I have tasted from the domaine and even dared “out-finesse” the Richebourg. What amazed me was the otherworldly precision, as if you could pick out each aroma or flavor from the air. Only the Chambolle-Musigny Charmes appeared unruly when compared to its peers, a little too feisty on the nose for my liking. Otherwise, this is just magic in a glass. Importer: Martine’s Wines, Novato, CA; tel. (415) 883-0400

Neal Martin - The Wine Advocate, 28 August 2013

Vintage performance