Sat about halfway up the hillside village of Pernand-Vergelesses is the domaine of Dubreil-Fontaine. Christine is the 5th generation of the family since 1879, to run the domaine from Pernand. At 20 hectares and producing 20 different cuvées that cover all the hierarchy – it’s no small operation. Other than a 2001 Corton-Charlemagne which resides in my cellar, I only really noticed this domaine’s well-priced bottles since the offers I received for the 2005 vintage – three cuvées of which ended up in the cellar – in fact all wines that I first tasted and decided to rebuy! Given its size and the apparent quality of its produce, I’m surprised that I don’t find more reference to it.
About 50% of their production is exported, respectively to; Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Japan… etc…
It was in 1879 that Pierre Arbinet established a domaine which he later passed to his son-in-law Julien Dubreuil. Julien’s son Pierre Dubreuil-Fontaine was responsible for further expanding the vineyards. Today Christine Gruere-Dubreuil manages the domaine after succeeding her father, Bernard Dubreuil.
In his 1989 book, Robert M Parker was a fan though Anthony Hanson’s book was more positive about the potential of the succession to Christine. From my limited exposure to the most recently bottled vintages, they are uniformly excellent from 2005, and the notes that follow show a high quality that is worth follow-up. Interesting to note that my only older vintage from this domaine is the 2001 Charlemagne, recently tasted it was tasty, but much less ripe than many other producer’s bottles and because of that, very young and so, who knows, perhaps p.ox free…
Vineyards and Vines
The production is mainly of red wine, though 25% of the domaine’s bottle contain white – recently they added two more Pernand premier crus to their range – Les Fichots and Sous Frétiles. The domaine is blessed with mature vines – almost all the vineyards average more than 40 years old.
The grapes are all hand-picked and sorted then further triaged on a sorting-table. For the whites a bladder press is used – settling the juice for one day before barrel fermentation and a weekly batonnage until the malolactic fermentation starts. New oak is used at a level of about 25% for the villages wines up to 35% for the Corton-Charlemagne. For the reds, there is complete destemming before fermentation in large stainless-steel vats with some temperature control. There is about 5 days of cold maceration (a little longer in 2008) and a twice daily pigeage.
The following wines were tasted at the domaine in November 2008:
This south-facing vineyard has been in the family for a long time, and was promoted to 1er cru in 2000. 2005 was actually the first vintage as a 1er cru chez Dubreuil-Fontaine as the vines were too young in 2000. The wine is obviously nice and fresh – though Christine says that this is the least mineral Pernand white. The mid-palte shows well with plenty of intensity and also finishes freshly.
The 1.5 hectare Clos is surrounded by a wall and is a monopole of the domaine. It is planted with 1 hectare of chardonnay that is classed as a 1er cru and 0.5 hectares of pinot noir that is only classed as a villages as there’s no AOC for red 1er here. The vines have been in the family since 1969/70 and were rented by them even before that, and the average age is about 40 years. Christine says that this wine is more mineral than the ‘Sous Frétille’ and, hence, more typical of white Pernand-Vergelesses. There is an intense core of fruit on the nose that is also reflect on the palate. Perhaps a little riper than the ‘Sous Frétille’ but it shows a lovely minerality in the mid-palate. A lovely wine.
The grapes are from Pernand, and this was bottled in September. A deep nose showing a little brioche. This starts very mineral and tight in the mouth but then bursts across the mid-palate before slowly decaying. Powerful and very well balanced. Super.
Medium colour. The aromas are sof soft red/black fruit and a floral note – perhaps peony. Fills your mouth quite well and there’s a striking bitter chocolate aftertaste. Unpresumptuous and very tasty.
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose goes much deeper than the ‘Clos Berthet’ and shows a darker fruit complexion. There’s much more concentration and structure here and the breath of flavour seems much wider. Again a hint of chocolate on the decent length. Very nice.
More compact but denser aromatics – rather impresses. There’s real depth here and the fruit has a sweeter profile. Quite understated structure but good balance. Super.
Medium, medium-plus colour. Aromatically tight fruit over a mineral base. Smooth, no real fat, yet concentrated. Understated tannin that has a minor edge of astringency. Overall a little plush and very lovely.
Medium colour. The nose is much more red coloured and higher toned – strawberry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth the tannin is more obvious despite having an ample covering of fruit and there’s a very good length. More powerful than the ‘Ile des Vergelesses’, but not necessarily better.
Nice, somewhat friendly red fruit aromas. Velvet tannin and rather elegant fruit. The flavour builds nicely into the mid-palate and lingers well. Rather a sophisticated Epenots.
Medium colour. Intense, focused red fruit. In the mouth it’s full and powerful and there’s plenty of obvious tannin. At this stage the balance seems in favour of the structure, yet the clean flavours linger very nicely. Needs at least 6-8 years in the cellar I’d say.
Domaine P. DUBREUIL-FONTAINE Père & Fils
F – 21420 PERNAND-VERGELESSES
(Côte d’Or) FRANCE
Tel. +33 (0)3 80 21 55 43
Fax. +33 (0)3 80 21 51 69