Producer note: Mme Bize reports that her yields in 2001 were lower than in 2000, averaging only 17 hl/ha compared to the prior vintage's yields of between 20 and 22 hl/ha. As was the case for the 2000 vintage, Domaines Leroy and d'Auvenay elected to bottle quite early; just before the harvest for the 2001s and in early November for the 2000s. When I inquired as to why she elected to bottle so early, the response was essentially that it was to "preserve freshness and to use even less SO2". I tasted the Domaine Leroy wines in late November and I will taste the Domaine d'Auvenay wines in February (a report on which will appear in Issue 10).
The Leroy 2001s are, in a word, incredible and in most cases, clearly better than her very impressive 2000s. Mme Bize summarizes the two vintages by saying "2000 is bigger but 2001 is finer and more precise". I have commented in the past that the quality of the tannic structure of the Leroy wines seems to become ever finer with each passing vintage and so it is again in 2001. Moreover, there is a purity and remarkable texture to the wines that seems even more pronounced and perhaps because the ripeness was not as high in 2001 that the wines appear to be even more transparent to their respective terroirs than usual. In fact, when taken as a whole from the top to the bottom of the Leroy range, this may rival the 1993 vintage as her finest ever. Such comparisons aside, what is absolutely clear is that this is a knock out set of wines and despite the often painful prices, it is unquestionably a vintage to buy at least a few bottles because the wines are unquestionably sensational. Note: I will review the d'Auvenay reds in the next Issue. (Martine's Wines, Novato, California)
Tasting note: The first wine to display even a hint of toast with slightly ashy notes and combines opulent, pure, very spicy and very ripe black fruit aromas and mouth coating, beautifully textured, velvety flavors and astounding persistence. This is an ever-so-slightly more complete wine than the Brulées and while the ash notes would usually be of concern, there is so much concentration and power here that I have no doubt that the toast will successfully integrate.