Burgundy master Clive Coates MW tells you everything that you need to know about Domaine Leroy, along with historical tasting notes on wines from top vintages - as part of a series that looks back at domaine profiles from Clive's most recent books.
Almost a century and a half ago, in 1868, François Leroy set himself up as a wine-merchant in his native village of Auxey-Duresses, just round the corner from Meursault. The business was expanded by his son Joseph, who took over at about the turn of the century and further developed by the next generation in the person of Henri, born in 1894, who entered the family affair in 1919.
Henri diversified into eaux de vie and cognac, establishing a model distillery at Ségonzac and as well as fine wine, sold lesser bulk wine to Germany, where it was made into sekt, and brandy in the same direction particularly to Asbach.
During the 1930s Henri became, firstly a client of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and then a good friend of Edmond Gaudin de Villaine, the gérant and co-owner with his brother-in-law Jacques Chambon.
These were hard times. The DRC was a bottomless pit necessitating yearly expensive investment on the one hand, but yielding no profit on the other. It seemed inevitable that it would have to be sold. And if it were to pass out of the Chambon-De Villaine hands, Henri Leroy and his friend knew only too well, it would be the start of the slippery slope.
Before too long the vineyards of Romanée-Conti and La Tâche would be as morcellated as that of Clos Vougeot.