1959 Romanee St Vivant Joseph Drouhin

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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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