iDealwine update: Rare Jewels

The wines made by Lalou Bize-Leroy, from Domaine Leroy and Domaine d’Auvenay, which rarely come to auction, reflect the holistic and determined way in which she has created her prestigious expressions.

Rare Jewels cover image

Burgundy continues to be highly praised at auction, and we observe an increasing number of bids arising from wine investors and collectors from Asia, even though demand from traditional markets remains solid.

In recent online auctions on iDealwine, we featured a great collection of wines from Lalou Bize-Leroy: Domaine Leroy and Domaine d’Auvenay.

The history of the Leroy family in Burgundy started in the mid-19th century with Francois, winemaker and vineyard owner around Auxey-Duresses. In 1868, he launched the eponymous négociant house. In 1942, while pursuing the development of Maison Leroy, his descendant, Henri, bought half of the already legendary Domaine de La Romanée-Conti, the other half remaining in the hands of his friend Edmond Gaudin de Villaine, grandfather of Aubert. Lalou Bize-Leroy, one of Henri’s two daughters, took over the negoce business in 1971 and co-managed Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from 1974 to 1992.

With the difficulty of finding growers sharing the elevated standards of Maison Leroy, Lalou decided to expand the house’s own vineyard, buying the illustrious Domaine Noëllat in Vosne- Romanée in 1988 and the following year, Philippe-Remy in Gevrey-Chambertin. Domaine Leroy was created. Today, the vineyard spreads across 26 prestigious appellations in the Cote d’Or, totalling 22.4 hectares and including 7ha in nine grands crus. In parallel, she created Domaine d’Auvenay of which she is the exclusive owner. It spreads across 4ha and includes some of the most precious grands crus in both red and white.

Holistic Approach

An early adopter of the holistic approach, Lalou has been cultivating both domaines under biodynamic principles since the first harvest in 1988.

Even in very challenging years, such as 1993, when the mildew severely attacked her vineyard, she didn’t alter her vision. Her determination and charisma inspired many other wine producers.

At a tasting, even a Bordelais, Jean- Michel Comme, the captivating biodynamic winemaker of Pontet- Canet, praised the inspirational personality of Lalou for the wine industry as a whole.

The vineyards benefits from old vines that are replaced individually from their own cutting instead of replanting all parcels at a time. This, combined with very strict vinicultural approach, means that only four bunches grow per vine. The grapes then follow a severe selection, sometimes using more staff at the sorting tables than in the harvesting of the vines. This results in about 16 hectolitres/ha compared with nearly 40hl/ha in the area. The wines undergo fermentation in wooden casks and are aged in new French oak barrels, producing deeply concentrated juice with an exceptional potential of ageing.

Lalou’s scarce wines are already commanding premium exdomaine prices, and a much organised allocation system. They are virtually unobtainable on the secondary market, hence the exceptional nature of recent sales with a great series auctioned on iDealwine.

About iDealwine.com

> iDealwine is an international finewine e-merchant with offices in Paris, Hong Kong and London. Specialising in online auctions and fixed-price sales, iDealwine was launched in France in 2000 and is now the online auction leader in Europe, supplying to 50 countries in Europe, Asia and the US.
> Wine is sourced from private European cellars and directly from the wineries, with a large range that includes rare bottles and vintages.
> iDealwine provides wine-market data and analysis, with more than 60,000 price estimates based on more than three million auction prices.
> Contact: Arthur de Lencquesaing – arthur@idealwine.com

The Leroy name is therefore eagerly sought out by enthusiasts, not just in Europe (France, Belgium and the UK), but also in Asia. Customers from mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan bought 23 of the 51 lots from the two domaines offered in the auction that closed on 10 May 2017. From Domaine d’Auvenay, the Bonnes-Mares appellation was the star of the show: the 2000 was snapped up for €1,980 (£1,726) a bottle (+150% compared with its average auction price) and in white, the grand cru Chevalier-Montrachet fetched €1,980, up by 38%.

From Domaine Leroy, the Richebourg was no slouch either: 1998 and 2000 vintages both went under the hammer at €1,920 a bottle. Given the scarcity of these wines and their infrequent appearance at auction, these results amount to an appreciation of the respective average auction prices of 260% and 158%. A 1998 vintage bottle of Romanée-Saint-Vivant sold for €1,500. Latricières-Chambertin 2000 achieved €1,260 (+108%), while a Clos de la Roche from the same vintage sailed away at €1,680 (+158%). It is also worth noting that buyers had to dig deep at €840 for a Corton Grand Crus Les Renardes 1998 (+85%) and €630 for a Vosne-Romanée Les Genaivrières 2000 (+12%).

In December 1998, Robert Parker described Lalou Bize-Leroy in The Wine Advocate as: “an uncompromising winemaker, with a portfolio of red and white Burgundies that qualitatively have no peers”. Indeed, the combination of a remarkable historical pedigree, an extremely demanding and passionate owner and an utmost terroir make the wines of Domaine Leroy and d’Auvenay real icons and obvious blue-chip wines. The extreme scarcity of bottles in the secondary market, combined with rising global demand for such icons, notably from Asia, will certainly not stop this continuous and sharp upward trend.

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