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The Griotte-Chambertin of Domaine Joseph Drouhin

Of course we don’t need to go through the history of Maison Joseph Drouhin as we did some of that here. Here we are talking (mainly) about the ‘domaine’ wine of Joseph drouhin, as they now own the vines. The core of this superb 14 wine vertical was nine wines tasted in London chez Clive Coates at one of his ‘Master Tastings‘ on the 9th July 2003. Three more wines; 2000, 1997 & 1992 came from my own cellar. It seemed a shame to have a couple of gaps (1994 and 1990) so I approached Drouhin to see if I could purchase the two missing vintages – they were very helpful in filling the gaps – maybe I should go back for 1988-1977!

Their Griotte

As you look at a typical map of the Griotte-Chambertin vineyard, with Clos de Bèze above and the Route Nationale 74 below, you will find the vines of Domaine Joseph Drouhin on the right-hand side of the vineyard abutting Chapelle-Chambertin. This part of the vineyard is in a depression with both Chapelle and much of the remaining Griotte set 2-3 metres higher. Drouhin purchased their portion of Griotte around 1981 and soon decided to replant, hence, the vines are today just over 20 years old. The grapes are had picked, 75% destemmed and fermented in open wooden tanks with twice daily manual ‘punch-downs’ of the chapeau. The wine is aged in cask, utilising approximately 20% new oak.

The overall impression after tasting 14 vintages is of a wine which is absolutely deserving of Grand Cru status and remarkably consistent despite vintage variations; open, elegant and complex. Bottled Catherine Deneuve perhaps?!

The ‘Master Tasting’ wines were double decanted around 2 hours before the tasting started, the others approximately 1 hour before drinking – the reason being that I felt the ’85 and ’76 lost a little sparkle on the nose after 2+ hours.
2000 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Medium cherry red. The nose is sweet with warm red fruits – one of the rare wines in this line-up to show griottes! Rich and fat this wine shows beautiful red fruit, lovely acidity and medium, relatively refined tannin. A finish which I would describe as long in most line-ups, but merely average in this company. Whilst very primary, there is a drinkability about the wine which makes it ‘moreish’ today, but my remaining two bottles will have to wait at least until their 10th birthdays for the next viewing.
1999 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Medium cherry red colour. The nose is dense and tight, still with some oak apparent. Very concentrated palate with good acidity and very refined tannins. Superb length too, but this wine is as tight as a drum – definitely not a wine for drinking now. Will be superb in another 10 years.
1998 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Medium ruby with a cherry red colour at the rim. The nose is of red berries and a cedar note which grows with time. Lovely silky texture – more so than the 1999, though not instantly apparent there’s super fruit concentration – it’s just so well balanced with the acidity. Some slightly rasping tannin on the long and creamy finish – not quite as long as the 1999, but this wine is much more forward and drinkable. Lovely.
1997 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Two bottles in two months – only one left now. Medium-plus ruby at the core still showing some cherry red at the rim. The nose is understated with red berry fruit and floral elements. Similarly beautiful texture to the 1998 but without the tannic rasp on the finish. Fat with concentrated redcurrant and cherry fruit. Good acidity and refined tannins that only show on the long finish. The double decanting did the trick as this showed in much more exuberant fashion to the last bottle. Lovely now and still a long life ahead.
1996 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Medium ruby colour. The nose shows a little more wood than any other wine here, but there’s also a deep, deep fruit compote to fall into. The palate has superbly concentrated red fruit with excellent acidity for balance. Fine tannins and a long finish. This is excellent and a long way from the start of its mature phase – needs at least another 5 years.
1995 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Medium-plus ruby colour – the most opaque wine of the whole series. Whilst not as forward as the 1998 the nose has a slightly blacker impression to the fruit. Really concentrated, fat palate. Perfect acidity and fine tannins, though these are perhaps not as fine as in the 1996. This is a very impressive wine which I (just) prefer to the 1996.
1994 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Mature looking medium ruby. The nose is wide if not deep with a lovely focused note of raisins and stewing griottes – not cooked though – quite lovely. The palate doesn’t have the depth of many here, but with food has more than enough fat, good acidity and tannins which could still run for a few more years. Yet another example of an excellent ‘off vintage’ wine from this climat. This was a super wine with food.
1993 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Medium ruby with some colour development towards the rim. Understated, almost closed nose – just a little red fruit. Lovely weight to the concentration – vying with 1995 here. Just a little more acidity and very fine and smooth tannins. Still far too young. I think this just gets the nod over the 1995 – but it’s a close call!
1992 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Medium ruby with amber towards the rim. Again an understated red fruit nose with a little coffee and cedar. Absolutely nothing understated once the glass touches your lips; big red cherry fruit assaults the palate – after the exceptional 1993 the flavours are perhaps a little diffuse. There’s almost good acidity and medium, slightly grainy tannin. Neither the fat nor the extra length of many here, but drinking now, and supremely elegant. Probably the best 1992 I’ve tasted and no rush to drink up.
1991 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
The colour is a little more developed than the 1993. Deep nose of more roasted red fruits. The fruit comes through as roasted on the palate too. Fine concentration and fat allied to very good acidity and lovely, still drying tannins. Again a wine that is still very young. Nice if you have it!
1990 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
A wine that I certainly enjoyed, decadent and voluptuous, but perhaps a little over-ripe and at this stage not really showing as Griotte. A deep core of ruby red, fading, but barely to the rim. The nose starts nicely rounded with high flowery notes at the top, reasonable fruity depth and some complexity providing the width – the depth improves with more time in the glass giving raspberry and a slightly meaty note, slowly starts to show some Griotte character. Gorgeous soft texture, super sweet fruit – perhaps too sweet – and completely buried tannins. A long, long finish with just a hint of bitterness 2 minutes(!) into the finish – but this is transient. Personally I find this wine a bit too 1990 and not enough Griotte – I’d rather have 1993, 1995, 1996 or 1999 in the cellar – but wouldn’t be too unhappy if I had some of this :-)
1989 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
We are finally starting to see some maturity in these wines: Medium ruby with an amber rim. Not pronounced, but a beautifully understated nose to fall into; red fruits, caramel, coffee and a touch of licorice too. Despite finely concentrated fruit, acidity and still prominent, drying tannins, the palate seems a little ‘flat’ after the 1991 – a super finish though. In retrospect perhaps this is still a little too young. Still very fine, but it’s up against stiff competition here.
1985 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
Quite a dense colour but browner at the rim. When first smelled there was a pronounced red fruit compote nose – one hour later (and around three since opening) it is less fruity and a little more estery – for me, less interesting. Retains it’s beauty in the mouth though! Gorgeous texture and lovely acidity to compliment palate coating fruit and very smooth, drying tannins. In the context of this tasting, only medium-plus length to the finish but ‘ready’ and very hedonistic.
1976 Joseph Drouhin, Griotte-Chambertin
This wine actually pre-dates by 5 years Drouhin’s purchase of their holding in Griotte-Chambertin. Medium ruby, but a deep core of colour – less brown and indeed younger looking than the 1985. Deep nose that was also more pronounced and interesting an hour earlier. The texture is not quite so splendid as the ’85. There is more acidity and tannin, but also a longer and more interesting finish. This is delicious, very, very tasty. No need to rush your drinking either!

9 responses to “The Griotte-Chambertin of Domaine Joseph Drouhin”

  1. Chuck Devan

    Do you have any idea of how much a bottle of Joseph Drouhin Laforet Bourgogne Pinot Noir Burgundy is valued at? I bought this bottle at an estate sale, and cannot find much on it. Thanks.

    Chuck

  2. Chuck Devan

    I forgot to put in the year. It is a 1988 vintage.

  3. Claude Kolm

    Bill — I’ve drunk Drouhin’s Bourgogne-La Forêt since the early 1980s and I suspect it goes back a good longer than that. The red, especially, is always a reliable indicator of the style of the vintage.

  4. Vince

    Quel grand cru descend jusqu’à la route Natinale 74?Charmes,Mazoyères,Griotte.Merci d’avance

  5. Claude Kolm

    Tsk, tsk, Bill — He’s differentiating between Mazoyères and Charmes, and if you do so, it is Mazoyères: http://www.burgundy-report.com/maps/gevrey.pdf

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?