Maison Joseph Drouhin gives you three reasons for knowing the vineyards of Nuits-Saint-Georges.
Nuits-Saint-Georges is one of the most recognizable names in the wine world, yet few wine consumers know much about it. Located in Burgundy’s Cote de Nuits, the greatest vineyard area in the world for pinot noir, the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation is formed from two villages: Nuits-Saint-Georges and Premeaux-Prissey.
It is fascinating to learn about Burgundy’s differences emerging from vineyards only a few feet from each other. Within Nuits-Saint-Georges are 41 premier cru vineyards. Maison Joseph Drouhin produces wine from three: Les Cailles, Les Damodes and Les Proces. Last month, I tasted the 2010 rendition of each.
In 1880, the then-22-year-old Joseph Drouhin founded his wine company in Beaune, the wine capital of the Burgundy region. In 1957, Robert Drouhin assumed the mantel and brought his indefatigable and meticulous nature to the business.
He purchased or leased prime vineyards, and bought grapes or recently fermented wine from quality growers. He installed Laurence Jobard as his enologist, the first woman in Burgundy to hold that title, and began reducing the use of chemicals in the vineyards long before others.
In 1988, Drouhin raised French eyebrows and enhanced the reputation of Oregon wines when he purchased land in Oregon’s Dundee Hills and opened Domaine Drouhin. Today, the fourth generation of Drouhins — winemaker Veronique Drouhin-Boss and her three brothers — continue the quest for excellence that their father instilled.
It is fascinating to learn about Burgundy’s differences emerging from vineyards only a few feet from each other.
Les Damodes is at the northern end of the appellation and has 21 acres classified Premier Cru; its other 10 acres carry the basic Nuits-Saint-Georges designation (a perfect example of why understanding Burgundy is challenging).
The 2010 Joseph Drouhin Les Damodes Premier Cruwas also purchased after fermentation, and developed and aged for more than 16 months. While it shares Les Cailles hue, its black cherry and vanilla oak scent is strikingly different. The two premier cru wines share integrated tannins and acidity, but Les Damodes binds them to its blackberry and black cherry-flavored fruit. Just 36 cases are available; its retail price is about $85 per bottle.
The other two premier cru vineyards are the bookends to the premier cru Les Proces, which sits in the middle of the appellation. It is part of the Joseph Drouhin portfolio because Laurent Drouhin owns just less than one acre — which is nearly half of the Les Proces vineyard. The Drouhin portion is certified organic, as are all the vineyards that the family owns.
The 2010 Joseph Drouhin Les Proces Premier Cru is slightly darker than the other two premier crus and its red fruit aroma carries an herbal accent. Its cranberry-cherry flavors are bound with a mineral aftertaste, reflecting the stony nature of the Les Proces vineyard. Unlike the other two premier crus, the 2010 Les Proces contains a noticeable tannin structure that requires a few years of cellaring. Only eight cases are available; the retail price is about $85.
Dreyfus Ashby is the importer of the Maison Joseph Drouhin wines.