Vivid, Elegant, World Class Chenin: Leroy Anjou Monbenault

Posted by CrushWine

Vivid, Elegant, World Class Chenin
2006 Leroy Anjou Blanc Monbenault
A New Loire Master for as Low as $23.40

The short list of top Loire Chenin producers has remained pretty stagnant over the years: Huet, Foreau, Joly, etc. That's until Richard Leroy burst onto the scene with wines so compelling that he was suddenly mentioned in the same breath as the greats.

Leroy, a former Paris banker, definitely has that special touch - a care in the vineyard and cellar that renders finely wrought wines with an absolute singularity. He is a self-proclaimed lover of Riesling, and it shows.

Chenin is often marked by rich, earthy flavors; in youth it can carry its weight awkwardly, feeling chunky or even clumsy. Leroy, however, is able to imbue the grape with sunshine and a unique nervousness. Sounds like the Riesling of Chenin Blanc, right? It sort of is.

Leroy's 06 Monbenault leads with notes of Meyer lemon, lemon verbena and tangerine that give way to orchard fruits, apple and quince. The finish is all soaring almond blossoms framed by a slight richness of oak. The style of this wine, though, is what's so thrilling - a nimbleness and a strong burst of freshness. 

Even in 2006, a vintage not known for its high acidity, this is Chenin at full verve.

At as low as $23.40 a bottle it's also just a great idea; a wine to consider as a meditative sipper as well as a versatile accent at the table. Seriously, Chenin Blanc is one of the most dynamic food wines out there, able to be paired with anything with a certain richness: pork to scallops with a lemongrass beurre blanc.  

Monbenault is a small, two-hectare vineyard of 50-year-old vines planted on volcanic schists. The combination of soils and the site's privileged exposure lead many to consider it one of the finest sites in the Coteaux Layon.

To say that Leroy is militant about his vineyard work may be an understatement. Consider this: Between 1996 and 2006, the vineyard yield ranged between seven and 30 hectoliters per hectare (most high quality producers fall in the 50+ range). Leroy also works organically with biodynamic methods; there is a respect here for the work, for the vines, and for the land.

For the Chenin Blanc scholar, this is a wine that should not be missed, though the combination of quality, value and rarity should put it on just about everyone's radar.

Note that this bottling was a discovery of our former General Manager, Tom Stephenson, during his fall 2009 Loire Valley trip. One of his parting gifts was to lock up a 10-case parcel of this wine. We've already drunk two bottles, so we have only 118 left to offer, and that's it - this is the entire U.S. allocation of this wine.

For those eager to enjoy the 06 Leroy, have no fear of opening this wine immediately - though a sizeable decant will help. This is also a bottle, however, that will transform itself in the cellar - Chenin Blanc is a notorious late-bloomer. Our 3-pack price is intended to encourage everyone to put at least two bottles away for 3-5 years.

Please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463 to place your order.

Stephen Bitterolf
Joe Salamone
Wine Buyers
Crush Wine & Spirits

Richard Leroy

2006 Anjou Blanc Montbenault

Special 3-Pack Price: $70.20 ($23.40/btl)

Special Bottle Price: $25.95

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A quick note on Leroy's use of oak: Using new wood on Chenin is controversial, but Leroy's use is deft to say the least. With aging, his wines seem to almost magically absorb oak to the point where its presence is almost undetectable. What's gained by its use is more depth, a richness and sleekness to the structure, not to mention a more tactile presence on the palate.

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