Posted on: 04/17/18 7:42 PM
“Elegant, fresh, energetic and super-transparent to the underlying terroir”: 2016 Joseph Drouhin
Drouhin, alongside Jadot, Bouchard P&F, and Faiveley, represents the pinnacle of production quality at the négociant end of the spectrum. This is largely because all of these négociants own a significant number of the vineyards they produce. All of them, in many ways, should be thought of as very large Domaines, rather than négociants. In fact, when you begin to look at the numbers, often one or two cuvées skews our perception of their status. For example, Drouhin produces about 3 million bottles a year. Almost 1.5 million of them are Bourgogne La Fôret. The same is true of Jadot. How much of their annual production do you think Beaujolais Villages represents? Answer: a disproportionate amount.
But savvy customers have known this for a long time. The top négoce bottlings sit very comfortably and very favorably alongside the small growers, and, often, can outperform them. Often times, wine falls into large dichotomies in the popular imagination. One popular idea many people seem hung up on is that big is bad and small is good. Obviously, this hobbles the négociants in the reputational hierarchies. But small is not always best. Consider Armand Rousseau. Surely, a “small grower” as we understand them. But why are his Chambertin, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze and Clos St. Jacques always so damned good? It’s not that Rousseau is so good, it’s that his parcels are relatively large! The Domaine can be more selective with grapes and their holding represents a larger swathe of the vineyard making for greater consistency.
All of this is just beating around the bush, though. We all know that Joseph Drouhin is among the leading producers in Burgundy today, crafting some of the greatest wines of the region every year. With a hallmark style of fresh elegance that does not forsake concentration, this bastion of excellence has been at the top of its game for some time. Véronique, the sensible and sensitive Drouhin at the helm of the winemaking operation, has essentially assured this for well over a decade now.
As for the vintage, it is a great success chez Drouhin, where the mineral elegance and finesse the estate is known for is well matched with the vintage’s charms. Check out Meadows’ glowing assessment:
“‘The 2015s are impressively ripe, rich and powerful wines but the 2016s come from the other side of the stylistic spectrum in that they’re elegant, fresh, energetic and super-transparent to the underlying terroir.’ I very much agree with [Véronique] in terms of her description of her 2016s and overall I found the quality here to be outstanding.” – Allen Meadows & Véronique Drouhin on the 2016 vintage
Quantities for many of these wines are severely limited, however, I would secure as much as you can of these wonderful, traditional and seriously elegant wines – in both colors – as you can afford. Drouhin rarely misses these days, and in a vintage like 2016, you can’t have enough!
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