Our appointment with Joseph Drouhin at 1445 in the first week of June 2019 didn’t start well. We were 10 mins late. Right in the center of Beune, right next to the Church of NotreDame; Joseph Drouhin is one of the largest producer in Bourgogne. His modern, elegant and state of the art showroom was very well done. We waited for the group, which left to visit the ancient cellars, to come back and finally join them for the tour.
The "cuverie" and its magnificent vaulted cellar below (Caves de la Collégiale) were built in the 13th Century. The enormous press was erected at this location in 1570. It is a wheel press, called "perroquet" (parrot). Its trough (the surface on which the juice collects under the basket) measures 16.5 m2 (148 sq ft). The wheel itself has a diameter of 3.3m (10 ft)! It was in use until the French Revolution and was put into service again to press grapes from the Beaune Clos des Mouches vineyard on a few special occasions. Two cuvées of white and red Clos des Mouches were made in 1980 for the Centennial of Maison Joseph.
Maison Joseph Drouhin's headquarters are in Beaune, in the heart of the old town, inside town walls built by the Romans at the beginning of the Christian era. Its impressive labyrinth of cellars was built between the 13th and 18th centuries. Joseph Drouhin was a daring and enterprising young man who came from the Chablis region. In 1880, at the age of 22, he settled in Beaune and founded there his own wine company. His aim was to offer wines of great quality that would bear his name. His son Maurice succeeded him and began to establish a vineyard domaine for the House, purchasing land in some outstanding appellations such as Clos des Mouches and Clos de Vougeot. Robert Drouhin, who succeeded Maurice in 1957, gave the domaine its present dimension, building up the estate with acquisitions of Grand Cru land (Grands Echézeaux, Griotte-Chambertin, Musigny, Bâtard-Montrachet…) as well as an estate of some 40 hectares at Chablis. Further afield, the Drouhin name also adorns a 60-hectare estate in Oregon, USA. And, last but not least, it should be noted that since 1948 Maison Joseph Drouhin has enjoyed responsibility for the plot of Montrachet belonging to the Laguiche family, owners since 1363. Here we have some of the finest whites that come out of Burgundy. Today, the fourth generation of the Drouhin family is at the helm. Robert Drouhin built a laboratory of oenology run by Laurence Jobard, the very first woman oenologist in Burgundy.
Some vineyards are among the most famous in Burgundy, such as Clos des Mouches, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, Musigny, Clos de Vougeot, Corton-Charlemagne, etc. With its 73 hectares, the Joseph Drouhin Domaine is one of the largest estates in the region. It was put together through the years, thanks to judicious purchases and agreements between families. It owns vineyards in all of Burgundy: Chablis (38 hectares), Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, (32 hectares), Côte Chalonnaise (3 hectares). It is comprised of a majority of Premier and Grand Crus. From vineyard to cellars the methods of cultivation, vinification and maturation of the wine employed by Joseph Drouhin remain absolutely traditional: every step aims at bringing out the personality of the vineyard parcel. The very latest technology is also used, yet only when it affords more rigorous quality control.
Be it red or white, Joseph Drouhin wines are all about finesse and elegance, and great aromatic purity. Young, they possess fruity and enticing aromas; with age, wines from great vineyards/appellations acquire a sumptuous complexity.
With the group we went trough some of the ancient cellars just below the showroom and tasted some of their wines. They were truly a full expression of the Bourgogne production.
The following day we searched for the iconic vineyards in Côte d’Or .. but this it is the topic for another blog. Follow us on the Wine Voyager.