We visited Maison Joseph Drouhin, right in the center of Beaune, and had a tasting comprising 6 wines.
Maison Joseph Drouhin
Originally from the Yonne department, Joseph Drouhin founded the négociant company which bears his name in 1880. His son Maurice took over in 1918, buying the first vineyards including the famous Beaune Clos des Mouches. Maurice Drouhin was a significant personality in Beaune, sitting on the INAO committee and acting as Deputy Administrator of the Hospices de Beaune, including during the troubled period of World War II.
His successor was his nephew and adopted heir Robert Jeausset-Drouhin who took charge in 1957.
Today, the fourth generation is at the helm. Robert Jeausset-Drouhin Drouhin now retains a surveillance role while his children Frédéric (managing director), Laurent (export markets), Philippe (vineyards) and Véronique (oenology and Domaine Drouhin Oregon) run the business.
With its 73 hectares, the Joseph Drouhin Domaine is one of the largest estates in the region. It owns vineyards all over 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. With close to 90 different appellations, Joseph Drouhin offers a fascinating array of Burgundy terroirs.
Twenty years after Philippe Drouhin first began introducing organic practices, Maison Joseph Drouhin was awarded organic certification for all vineyards it owns, beginning with the 2009 vintage.
Long-time oenologist Laurence Jobard, engaged by Robert Drouhin in 1973, retired after the 2005 vintage and was replaced by Jérome Faure-Brac, a trained oenologist previously with Bichot, while Véronique Drouhin remains on hand to provide continuity of style.
A balance of tradition and modern techniques characterizes Maison Joseph Drouhin’s winemaking and vineyard management: on site nursery, plowing, leaf removal, 100% hand harvesting, open fermenters, fermenting and aging in oak.
The red wines are pre-macerated at 13-15º Celsius, with a very light punching down at the start followed by alternating punching down and pumping over, depending also on the needs of the vintage. The aim is to privilege the fruit in the wine, and to this end bottling is earlier than for most producers.
We enjoyed a guided tour through Beaune’s most ancient cellars followed by the tasting of 6 emblematic wines from Maison Joseph Drouhin.
At 1 Cour du Parlement de Bourgogne, the Maison Joseph Drouhin cellars are located right in the heart of Beaune.
These historic cellars cover approximately 1 hectare beneath the historic center of Beaune between the Hospice de Beaune and Notre-dame Church. These aren’t just ordinary cellars mind you; they have a bit of age on them. Once part of the original cellars of the Duke of Burgundy’s Parliament, they date back to the 13th century.
The Drouhin cellars read like a history book, with many architectural elements dating back to the 10th century. You’ll get a peek at a wine press from 1570 (still used to press grapes on occasion); and the Liberty Door through which Maurice Drouhin escaped from the Gestapo during World War II. Even the tasting room is walled in history –partially composed of an ancient Roman wall.
Of course you won’t be the first visitor to grace these cellars. America’s favorite oenophile, Thomas Jefferson, is said to have toured these finely mold covered spaces during his travels in France.
We tasted 6 wines.
2011 Maison Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru
2009 Maison Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet
2011 Maison Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru
2012 Maison Joseph Drouhin Côte de Beaune
2008 Maison Joseph Drouhin Nuits-Saint-Georges Damodes Premier Cru
1996 Maison Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos de Mouches
About Dr. Christian G.E. Schiller
I live in the greater Washington DC (US) and Frankfurt am Main (Germany) areas and write about wine. I am a member of the FIJEV (International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers). Before starting to write about wine in 2009, I was for almost 30 years an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I am currently in Washington DC.
We really appreciate the knowledge of wine expert, Dr. Christian G.E. Schiller. He really knows great wine. We want to share his knowledge with our audience. Here’s where you can learn more and buy Drouhin wines we offer.