Burgundy 2016 Bellene & Ben Leroux New Arrivals

Both Benjamin Leroux and Nicolas Potel have spearheaded a new wave of younger micro-negociant Burgundy producers in a manner that has changed the region forever. Both have tirelessly worked with growers to assist in refining farming practices along sustainable lines (both ecologically and economically), they have championed winemaking which prioritises pure expressions of terroir (read minimal intervention with common sense), and perhaps most importantly they have provided leadership to a young generation of Burgundians: showing that with passion and perseverance Burgundy can still be made by Burgundians.

This tasting has a frankly spectacular line-up of wines from two people who deserve the accolades they receive. The wines produced in 2016 by both are outstanding. SEBASTIAN

Bellene lost over 50% of their crop in 2016 and owner, Nicolas Potel, was visibly distraught when I met and tasted with him late last year. The wines are exceptional as usual and as he wrote to me later: it may be one of my best vintages. Some might think this is a big call coming after the superb 2015s but there is little doubt in my mind that he is right and I have always thought that he excels in the “classic” Burgundy vintage. His only-old-vine vineyards and the manic attention to selection suits the frugal nature of the vintage.

For those of you who are familiar with the Domaine de Bellene, the story of Nicolas is well-known. Since his foray into a Maison business bearing his name 20 years ago and then with the Domaine de Bellene he has always run counter to the crowd in Burgundy. His infectious energy is underpinned by a huge intellect and clarity of vision about what he wants his domaine and his wines to be. Nicolas has always worked with old-vine fruit and practiced a relatively minimal intervention regime in the cellars. The wines are what the vintage gives you; there are no tricks to reinvent the wine that didn’t come from the vineyard. Over the years tweaks have been made to this or that approach but generally the methodology has not wavered greatly. The increasing knowledge of the plots is one thing that we think is delivering better outcomes as well.  MICHAEL MCNAMARA

A decade after beginning his micro negociant business and beginning to work with over 50 climats in Burgundy, I would argue there are few in Burgundy with Ben’s breadth of knowledge (Nicolas Potel being the another).

In 2016 Ben has produced a balanced and fine set of wines which have all the hallmarks of classic Burgundies. They have fine acidities, suave tannins and plenty of ripe fruit and display clear terroirs – and for this reason he prefers the wines to his 2015s. Ben noted the wines always looked fresh and transparent, even during the fermentation’s and elevage which he believes is an indication of quality. SEBASTIAN ZOTTI