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Average critic rating : 91.0 points
The 2012 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres is a little subdued on the nose at first. But it unfurls to offer hints of chalk dust, gravel and citrus peel. The palate is well-balanced with a confident, spice-tinged opening. There is good weight and presence in the mouth here with traces of orange zest and mango, building all the time until it fans out on the finish. It just needs to develop more intensity on the nose to “complete the package” as it were. ||The matriarch of Maison Joseph Drouhin, Veronique Drouhin, escorted a group of writers and scribes through her 2012s in London, except for the Grands Echezeaux that happened to not be showing well. Hers were the only 2012s tasted outside Burgundy for this report, in respect of the miniscule quantities. Less for us critics: more for punters, even if it is a drop. The omnipresent story of depleted crops was the same here. In fact, 2012 is their smallest vintage for 50 years. “Everything that you think could happen, did happen,” rued Veronique in her fluent English. “We had frost, hail, storms and even sunburn.” There was some redemption though, a vital one too. “The only thing we did not get was botrytis and so the fruit was healthy. There had been a poor fruit set and a lot of coulure and millerandage. This meant the berries were small and not clustered close together, allowing good air flow between the berries and therefore inhibiting grey rot.” However, the unpredictable growing season proved challenging in the vineyard. “We are 100% organic, so we had to go over and over in the vines. We had to use natural responses to natural problems.” The 2012 vintage also demanded prudent approaches in the winery that could enhance the wines. “One of the most surprising things we found was that it took five to seven days for the fermentation to start. During this period you could extract some interesting things (color, polyphenols etc). Also, we found that the fruit had a long post-fermentation period of up to two weeks, which also benefited the complexity of the fruit. We also had a different approach to the vin de press. When we pressed the white grapes, we separated the end pressings. Using whole clusters means that the stems tend to increase the pH and the acidity goes much lower, which can dilute the cuvee. We had to separate the vin de presse and work each one differently. But in 2012 we did not include much of the vin de presse.” The vinification of such a small quantities springs its own set of problems; after all, you cannot fill all your barrels with marbles to keep them topped up. Fortunately, there was plenty of time to prepare because the February frost had burnt the buds. Poor flowering and fruit set early in the growing season meant that there was plenty of time to place orders for appropriately-sized barrels. “We used 500-liter barrels, which were very useful and similarly sized stainless tell vessels for the wines,” Veronique explained. “We hired a person who specializes in bottling small quantities. Jerome likes them (500-liter barrels) very much. They do not extract much, but they can make very elegant wines.” Perhaps one silver lining is that it has given producers such as Drouhin experience of using alternatively sized vessels that may be used in the future when vintages are more bountiful. At the end of the day, Drouhin have overseen another impressive set of Burgundy wines. While they do not possess the structure of the 2010s, the acidity levels are not dissimilar, although they seem to have more sweetness on the finishes. I concur with Veronique that two appellations that prospered in this vintage are Chassagne in the Cotes de Beaune and Chambolle in the Cotes de Nuits. In particular, the latter is very strong chez Drouhin in 2012, right down to the village cru. She also opined that Rully exceeded expectations, perhaps because the vines were so affected by hail in 2011 and strove to compensate in the following year. Here both the white and red come highly recommended and will probably represent good value. Prices are expected to rise, possibly 10-15% for the village and premier crus, 20% for the grand crus, although nothing had been set at time of writing. eRobertParker.com.December, 2013
Joseph Drouhin: The Importance
Founded 130 years ago and still family owned, Joseph Drouhin is one of the most important domaines in Burgundy. In the words of John Gilman, “[there has been an] emphasis on elegance and terroir at this domaine since its inception”. On tasting the 2014 vintage, Burgundy authority Allen Meadows wrote “I was extremely impressed by the quality of the Drouhin reds… these are wines to make a special effort to find and cellar.”
The estate consists of 35 hectares across 90 appellations in Burgundy and is largely located in the Côtes de Nuits and Côte Chalonnaise. 90% of Drouhin’s holdings are Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. The estate also owns Clos des Mouches, a historic vineyard in the Cote de Beaune with a notable claim to fame: the 1973 Clos des Mouches place fifth in the historic “Judgement of Paris”. Outside France, Joseph Drouhin also owns Domaine Drouhin, located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Joseph Drouhin: The Insight
The white wines are the most consistent jewels in the Drouhin crown and chief amongst them is the iconic Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, a wine which the family has been cultivating on behalf of the Laguiche family since 1947. Their Chablis is also a go-to for those in the know, with Wine Doctor Chris Kissack commenting “Drouhin has been, for decades, a reliable source of Chablis”.
However their reds are not to be overlooked, especially the Muisgny, which Allen Meadows has previously called ‘zen-like’, and of which John Gilman wrote “I have a hard time thinking of a top red Burgundy over the last forty years that has been more consistently successful than the Joseph Drouhin Musigny. Certainly there are a number of other top grand crus that have equally impressive track records for aging, but none that surpass this wine.” Indeed, of Drouhin’s top-scorers, the most consistent performer is the Musigny, with vintages such as the 2005, 2009 and 2012 all receiving excellent scores of 96 points upwards.
The Drouhin style can be said to be very fruit-driven: they are confident in the quality of their raw materials and like to let these take the front seat in their wines, with a focus on minimal intervention in the winery. In recent years they have incorporated increasing numbers of large casks into the fermentation and ageing process, allying themselves with a number of Burgundian producers who believe that this leads to a less-pronounced Oak feel, allowing the original terroir to shine through.
This is also achieved by relatively early bottling compared to many other Burgundian domaines. John Gilman explained the effect of this in several statistics: “As most readers already are aware, the traditional Burgundian barrel is 228 liters in volume. To give just a few examples of how the Drouhins are utilizing larger casks for certain wines, the lovely Pouilly-Vinzelles is half raised in 600 liter casks now, the Chablis “Vaudésir” is raised in 350 liter barrels, and the Chablis “Bougros” is also raised in 600 liter casks.”
Their Oregon wines are also not to be overlooked. The U.S. branch’s top cuvee is the Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Louise, which has been consistently well scored by Robert Parker and has previously led him to comment: “Domaine Drouhin has been on a roll since the 2002 vintage. Dare I say it, the winery seems to be making better wine in Oregon than they are in France.” While we can’t say we agree on the assessment of the French wines, it is certainly an indication of the quality of Drouhin’s American project.
Joseph Drouhin: The Background
Joseph Drouhin founded the domaine in 1880, passing the reigns to his son Maurice in 1918. It was Maurice who bought the first vineyards, including Clos de Mouches. Maurice was an active member of Beaune’s winemaking landscape, sitting on the INAO committee and working for the Hospices of Beaune for a significant proportion of the 20th century. He was succeeded by his nephew Robert Jeausset-Drouhin in 1957. As of 2017, the team included Robert and his four children: Frederic, Laurent, Veronique and Phillippe.
The family first went stateside in the late 1980s, transporting their century of experience from the slopes of Beaune to the Dundee Hills of Oregon, with great success.
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