The 29th of July 2021 turned out to be a big day for iDealwine, as we witnessed a bottle of Leroy’s 2006 Musigny go under the hammer for €28,244. This is the highest bid we’ve ever seen on the site for a Burgundy grand cru. So, now that the initial noise has died down, let’s think about what this result means for the market.
“The thing that is seldom is wonderful.” This Irish proverb goes some way to summing up the great and increasing attraction to Burgundy, a region that makes wine lovers dream. It’s no surprise that this bottle has got people talking. A controversial sum or a reason for national pride? A sign of decline or a recognition of talent? Everyone’s got something to say, so here’s our piece.
Credit where it’s due
Behind the headline figure and its impact in the wine world, we mustn’t forget the importance of one woman and her talent. Lalou Bize-Leroy has long been hailed as an extraordinary producer, a pioneer of biodynamics in France who tends to each of her vines with meticulous care. The Bettane & Desseauve guide has said of Domaine Leroy that “every bottle from this legendary domain, like those of its twin Auvenay, is a sensory event for the tastebuds, revealing all that Burgundy’s finest terroirs have to offer, including the genius of its grape varieties and the distinctive character of each vintage”.
This Leroy bottle is a real treasure, produced from just 2,600 square metres of the appellation’s coveted ground, a terroir reputed for its exceptional red clay sub-soil. Less chalky than its neighbouring vineyards, the resulting wines are of an unmatched silkiness and elegance.
Lalou Bize-Leroy’s talent makes heads turn across the globe, flying the flag for Burgundy as one of the world’s most prestigious wine regions. Can we blame the French for being proud of the attention their top wines attract? This Musigny sale could indeed be a reason for the country – with its rich viticultural history and strong heritage – to celebrate the far-reaching charm of Burgundy bottles in the industry across borders.
The rarity that comes from low levels of production versus the globalisation of demand is an imbalance that persists, in Burgundy more than anywhere else. The Musigny appellation in question is minuscule, just covering 10 hectares (9.72 planted with Pinot Noir and 0.66 with Chardonnay). Decidedly, this is not enough to quench the thirst of every wine lover in search of the finest names. The astronomical price this Musigny went for was the result of a bidding war between several clients in the end. We’ve seen, interestingly, that top bids are losing their seasonality; it used to be that the biggest bids would happen at certain periods of the year (especially around Christmas), but the month seems to be having less of an effect. For a record-breaking result to happen during the summer months, when visitors frequenting the site tend to be fewer, is a sign of changing trends on the market.
“Nobody can afford to drink this kind of wine any more”
Staring in the face of a €28,000 price tag, you’d be right in thinking that pouring a glass of this kind of wine is reserved for the very few. Are all of Burgundy’s grands crus destined for the cellars of the super rich? Bidders for this Musigny came from France, Hong Kong, and Singapore, though a UK resident was the ultimate winner. Brexit constraints cast aside, this client was willing to go all the way to get their hands on the 2006 Leroy.
For a wine enthusiast, it’s disappointing to find that some of the very finest produce can be so unattainable. But turn that desire and curiosity to the myriad domains and regions just bursting with gems for you to discover. Once you move beyond the dazzling light of the biggest names, you’ll see just how much character and richness is on offer elsewhere. And sometimes, maybe just once in your life, a moment of mad emancipation from reason will push you to invest in the bottle of your dreams. Take inspiration from Oscar Wilde, who wrote that ‘the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it’…
“The wine will never be uncorked”
A worry sometimes expressed by winemakers when they see their bottles sell for rocketing prices on the secondary market. And also a criticism we hear in the wine community when a bottle auctions for a record price. But are these latter detractors gifted with prescient knowledge of the winning bidder’s intentions? Who are we to assume what the client wishes to do with their newly-prized treasure? Do they even know yet themselves? We can’t say for sure. Nevertheless, we do know for a fact that, yes, some buyers of highly-coveted bottles treat their purchase as an investment. Arguably more than stocks and shares, wine can represent a safe bet when it comes to planning your spending for future re-sale.
Having said this, you only have to venture into the wine industry’s booming Instagram community of influencers and enthusiasts – or simply observe the habits of your wine-loving entourage – to see how many prestigious bottles are indeed opened and enjoyed! And if the lucky Musigny 2006 buyer were planning to do the same with their legendary Leroy, we might just be inviting ourselves round…
Translated from a piece written by Angélique de Lencquesaing: ‘Musigny 2006 de Leroy adjugé 28 244€ sur iDealwine : analyse d’un record’
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