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Burgundy 2021 En Primeur: Domaine Bachey-Legros

 
Like many domaines, Bachey-Legros was badly hit by frost in April 2021, with an overall reduction of 50% on a normal harvest, white wines being hit hardest and some, like Santenay 'Gravieres' producing just 10% of a normal yield!  Allocations are limited this year as a result, so if you would like to buy some, en primeur may be your only opportunity to do so.
One of the keys to quality at Bachey-Legros is vine age.  It's worth reminding ourselves what an impact this has on quality.  The vines in Clos Rousseau 'Les Fourneaux' 1er Cru were planted in 1914 and even the humble lieu-dit 'Clos des Hâtes' dates back to 1935. 
 
Strangely, 'Vieilles Vignes' is an unregulated term on French wine labels and some producers use it for vines as young as 20 years old, a world away from Sam and Lénaïc's 80 and 100 year-old vines.  The average at the domaine is 50 years.  Even the uninitiated would spot these in a vineyard; small, gnarly stumps of great thickness, which yield around half the crop of more vigorous young vines. 
 
Old vine berries tend to be small, thick-skinned, and highly concentrated.  This was apparent in the 2021s, particularly the reds, which had plenty of smoky, dark fruit, whilst still being true to the balanced, terroir-driven style of the vintage, with great elegance in the 1er Cru-level wines.
 
We tasted a wide range of the various cuvées here, but not all of the wines allocated to us, hence some are offered without notes, below, with every confidence. 
Prices show modest rises, but still offer amazing value!  We think these will rise in successive vintages as more people discover the domaine, so please don't miss this opportunity. 
 

Offered en primeur and on allocation.  Due to land in the UK in December 2023.

 

Domaine Bachey-Legros, Santenay

Producer Profile

Domaine Bachey-Legros, Santenay

Amongst the blue-chip domaines of the principal Côte d'Or villages, Bachey-Legros is an outlier, both geographically and for the charming, slightly buccaneering energy of brothers Samuel and Lénaïc Legros.  Neighbouring Chassagne-Montrachet and at the southern end of the limestone ridge which forms the Côte de Beaune, Santenay is a gem of a town, with an "off the beaten track" air to it. The slopes behind the village are beautifully situated, with numerous fine terroirs. Very helpfully, these fall into distinct sub-zones, with more oolitic limestone in the soils neighbouring Chassagne giving more powerful wines, versus more limestone-marl soils to the south, giving more finesse.

The Legros brothers have 18 hectares here, inherited from their grandfather who, by 1993 had almost ceased wine production, contracting out many of his vines to other growers. It was Sam and Lénaïc's mother, Christiane, then living and working as a psychologist in Dijon, who returned to the family domaine to begin re-building it, gradually taking back control of vineyards as those leasing contracts expired (maybe this is why it feels as if this domaine has come from nowhere and remains relatively undiscovered). Today, it still has the air of a work in progress, with the unrestored stone buildings pressed into service at what is clearly a growing business.

The Clos Rousseau, on the upper slopes to the South of Santenay

In contrast to the sleepy air at most of the domaines we visited, Bachey-Legros was a hive of activity, with a lorry delivering a huge quantity of frost candles for the winter ahead (quite an investment, at 8 Euros each, with 300-400 needed per night, per hectare). There was also a mobile bottling line in full swing, with bottles being packed by a young team in another outbuilding. Sam and Lénaïc themselves project a laid-back energy and are instantly likeable. The other thing which stands out here is the volume of wine in tank and in barrel (compared to the many bare-looking cellars we visited). We have said several times over the last couple of years what amazing value this domaine's wines are. Seeing it in person really helps to understand how they achieve this, with a combination of outstanding raw materials (their holdings of ancient vine are second to none) and an unstuffy, no-frills approach.

Old vines play an important role in their success and you will see the vineyard planting dates proudly listed next to many of their wines, from 1950 for 'Les Charmes' back to 1914 for 1er Cru Clos Rousseau 'Les Fourneaux'.  Caring for these old vines is clearly a labour of love and they describe themselves as working like 'curators in a botanical museum'!  Deep-rooting older vines are very resilient to annual vintage variations, giving consistently brilliant wines each year.   

RED 2021 5 cases Bachey-Legros - Chassagne Montrachet 'Les Plantes' Momières Vieilles Vignes 75cl £295 per case of 12 Bachey-Legros
Chassagne Montrachet 'Les Plantes' Momières Vieilles Vignes
2021 / 5 cases / 75cl
£295 per case of 12
IB
WHITE 2021 2 cases Bachey-Legros - Chassagne-Montrachet 'Morgeot' Les Petits Clos Vieilles Vignes 1er Cru 75cl £295 per case of 6 Bachey-Legros
Chassagne-Montrachet 'Morgeot' Les Petits Clos Vieilles Vignes 1er Cru
2021 / 2 cases / 75cl
£295 per case of 6
IB
Tasting NotesVines planted in 1950-51. 'Morgeot' is a very large premier cru and contains several other smaller premiers crus, of which 'Les Petits Clos' is one. Morgeot wines are often blended from parcels across the vineyard, but this is from a single plot of 2 hectares. Facing south-east, the soils here have lots of white clay and limestone. White fruits on the nose, some peach, smoky citrus, more stone fruits and ginger on the palate. Excellent length. As per the previous vintage, there is something instantly likeable about this wine, all of its complex layers are immediately accessible. RKL
WHITE 2021 4 cases Bachey-Legros - Santenay Blanc Clos Les Gravières 1er cru 75cl £160 per case of 6 Bachey-Legros
Santenay Blanc Clos Les Gravières 1er cru
2021 / 4 cases / 75cl
£160 per case of 6
IB
Tasting NotesFrom younger vines in the lower, northern part of Santenay and is mostly a young vine cuvée. The vineyard is planted with 3% of a chardonnay clone which gives a rich style with almost Muscat-like aromas. The finished style is similar to Chassagne-Montrachet with lots of richness and texture, presumably influenced by the use of lees stirring and ageing in 30% new wood. Balanced citrus and yuzu fruit on the nose, lovely fresh acidity balancing the concentration, some white flowers, tangerines on the palate. Quite different to the tropical notes and glyecrine-texture from some recent vintages of Gravieres. Good energy. RKL
RED 2021 1 case Bachey-Legros - Santenay Rouge Clos Rousseau 75cl £150 per case of 6 Bachey-Legros
Santenay Rouge Clos Rousseau
2021 / 1 case / 75cl
£150 per case of 6
IB
Tasting NotesThe 'Clos Rousseau' is from three parcels of old vines; Les Fourneaux, planted in 1914, Le Grand Clos Rousseau (1980), and Le Petit Clos Rousseau (1955). Not tasted.
RED 2021 2 cases Bachey-Legros - Santenay Rouge 'Clos Rousseau Les Fourneaux' Vieilles Vignes 75cl £160 per case of 6 Bachey-Legros
Santenay Rouge 'Clos Rousseau Les Fourneaux' Vieilles Vignes
2021 / 2 cases / 75cl
£160 per case of 6
IB
Tasting NotesVines planted in 1914. Les Fourneaux is a lieu-dit within the Clos Rousseau Premier Cru, one of the Santenay's best sites. 30% new wood. Les Fourneaux literally means 'the ovens' (or furnaces)! After the Clos des Hates this offers another level of polish and refinement. A great example of how 2021 is a terroir year, this 2021 is more expressive of this elegance than in hotter years, feels like I finally understand Les Fourneaux! Words like balanced, harmonious and composed sum it up. A real success in this vintage. RKL

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