Joseph Drouhin – 2018


Véronique Drouhin, 2019Tasted in Beaune with Véronique Drouhin, 14 November 2019.

Maison Joseph Drouhin
7 Rue d’Enfer
21200 Beaune
Tel: +33 3 80 24 68 88

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Véronique on 2018:
2018 started wet, but in April it was warm and the vines exploded into growth. May 19th we saw the first flowers and the weather was dry with good light a little wind and the sun. Veraison was already seen in mid-July. August warm and very dry. The good news was that there was no pressure from mildew, botrytis or oïdium.

“Harvest started August 29 and was easy – the Côte de Beaune was largely done by September 7th – in 2 weeks we’d picked practically the whole estate – so it was quite a fast harvest. The decision was ‘should we pick on acidity or should we pick on fruit?’ We can’t pick 80 hectares on one day so managing this was some work, but we waited a little, choosing phenolic ripeness. The whites needed no sorting as we had no oïdium. After pressing the choice was how much or how little lees to keep – it was very clean, so we kept a lot – but we also didn’t want the wines to be too heavy – lees can contribute to that – so we decided to do no batonnage.

“Mainly the malos were completed – they were slow – but some wines were stopped before completion. I actually didn’t expect the wines would retain so much freshness – I’m really happy with that… We pressed 90%, and 10%, so the (10%) end of the press is usually higher pH (lower acidity) – we acidified this part – usually declassifying it, but for the rest practically not.

“For pinot we chose the full phenolic ripeness, so whole clusters were important – we used a lot – even in the Beaune 1ers where we usually don’t have much – for us it was high – 25-50% were kept. As you can see there’s plenty of colour so we tried to avoid extraction as all was happening naturally. The 2018s have a kind of charm – but less than in 2017 – but I think fine balance. 12.5-14.3° is the range – reds and whites – 12.5 for the Macons and Chablis.

“Those who pick very early face having to deal with premox.

The wines…

A producer that always manages to captivate me – but not in 2018.

Their whites showed modestly, their Côte Chalonnaise reds only a little better. Many wines showed a lot of oak character but some of their emblematic wines – at this time and this tasting – barely resembled pinot noir to me. I was completely shocked. Such was the result that I have to question the samples/sampling process.

Drouhin make a massive effort to take wine from every barrel to make a properly representative sample, and this has functioned well in previous tastings. But there are two tastings; one in London and one in Beaune – roughly 1 week apart – but with the same samples. It should be noted that we did have some variation in the samples that were poured in Beaune, 1 week later than in London. Then there is the question of the alcoholic volatility of a number of wines – I would rarely comment on this as it is something often seen with pre-bottled samples but departs in the degassing phase before bottling, but such was the prevalence in many wines, it seemed much more relevant to the vintage.

If it was only a question of ‘older’ samples, then those presented in London, one week earlier, would have been okay. I asked the question of somebody present in London and their response was very clear “If the wines in London are representative of the vintage as a whole – I won’t be buying any 2018s…”

There are impressive reds here – but often in a style that resembles Barossa Shiraz – which I used to buy and enjoy – but I wouldn’t pay €100 (plus, plus…) for! I buy Drouhin for their sophistication, elegance and delineation of terroir. I really didn’t find any that in this tasting. Of all the Grand Maisons of the Côte d’Or, this was the only address that offered such a pastiche of Burgundy.

The format was the same as the previous three years – a ‘walk-around’ tasting of cuvées, before a sit-down tasting with some commentary from Véronique. First, the speed-tasted ‘stand-up wines:

2018 Brouilly
A little pyrazine freshness. Open, fresh, some energy, high-toned fruit. Good.

2018 Fleurie
Also quite a pyrazine on the nose. Less sweet, good energy. Wide. The finish is the best part.

2018 Rully
Deep aroma, not an expressive nose. Nice in the mouth though.

2018 Chorey-lès-Beaune
The most important part is Beaumonts, a mix of estate and purchases
A little more open. Sweeter, good freshness. Nice wine with a great finish.

2018 Savigny-lès-Beaune Clos des Godeaux
Estate wine above Lavières
Hmm, thats the first nose with a pretty freshness. Depth, good layers of flavour, oaky but tasty finishing.

2017 Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Aux Fourneaux
More fruited, nicer line, less oak. Good wine.

2018 Beaune 1er Les Grèves
‘All estate ‘Sur les Grèves’ so high on the hill.
A modest impact, but higher-toned nose. More open, more complex. That’s good! Oaky finishing though (again).

2018 Nuits St.Georges 1er Procès
‘Not the easiest to sell, but this cuvée is delicious’ – made since 1996… Owned by Laurent Drouhin
A little oak. Fuller, more volume. Great complexity, very oaky today though (again!)

2018 Vosne-Romanée
Higher toned. Nice texture and width. I like the energy, complexity too – lovely.

2018 Chambolle-Musigny
Not domaine but have bought the grapes for 40 years.
A little higher toned again. Nice shape, open good freshness. Long.

2018 Gevrey-Chambertin
25-30% 1er in here, each year.
A tighter nose. Lovely width. Fine grained texture. Good wine.

2018 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
A newish wine – the 3rd vintage – three good suppliers including Petits-Monts, Malconsorts and Chaumes
A narrow nose that slowly grows into a wide band of finely spiced fruit. Depth of layered flavour, delicious and complex. An excellent first impression from this wine, then a nice diminuendo of finishing flavour – lovely!

2017 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
All domaine from seven parcels. A blend of north and south, not a big cuvée this year
Vibrant, almost volatile. Lovely shape and texture. Complex finishing

Les Blancs:

2018 Macon-Lugny Les Crays
It was always from Crays but we didn’t know, so now it’s on the label!
Sweetness, quite inviting. Wide, easy, lacking a bit of zip but nice texture and flavour.

2018 St.Véran
Same sources – 17 partners – 20% in 500l barrels the rest in tank
Mineral, herbed, deeper fruit on the nose. Sweet, more mobile and interesting, tasty but low acid.

2018 Rully Blanc
Faintly sulfurous nose. Open, easy, modestly mineral. Okay. Nice texture

2018 Chablis Reserve de Vaudon
All biodynamic, all stainless steel – same for the 1er crus that follow.
Wide, good texture, low acid but tasty. Fine finishing.

2018 Côte de Beaune
Nice freshness. Mineral, a nice line of flavour with depth, a touch of oak too – but good!

2018 Chassagne-Montrachet
Oaky. Nice volume and minerality in the mouth but way too much oak for me today.

2018 Puligny-Montrachet
Also oaky, but less. Nice width, concentrated with good texture, slowly adding some complexity – tasty in the finish!

​2018 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Les Embazées
All barrel – the 1ers an average 20% new
Toasty. A nice line and freshness here – this is really quite good. Intense, layered finishing. Excellent!


2018 Mâcon-Bussières Les Clos
Both of first 2 wines are ¾ 500l barrels the rest in tank. This a small climat and Drouhin work with about 75% of the appellation – a cooler site, probably one of the very entry wines of Drouhin, not much more expensive than the aligoté
Hmm – here’s a nice blast of fresh aroma. Round, supple, ripe but open – there could be more drive, but it’s tasty wine!

2018 Pouilly-Vinzelles
A small AOC of 50 ha. Of course, the less well-known than neighbour Pouilly Fuissé. From Chateau Vinzelles – but not allowed to write on the label as they have the rights to that – and they own 17ha, Drouhin controlling 12 just now. One-third in 500 l barrels
A tighter nose. More drive and freshness, fine texture, cool minerality. This is excellent.

2018 Chablis Mont de Milieu (Maison wine)
Recently a new domaine parcel here – 2 years – plus some bought grapes. Zero oak here.
Fresh, wide, mineral. Good texture and a nice sparkly complexity – it would be really super with a touch more acidity, but it’s really not bad as it starts.

2018 Chablis Bougros
Domaine, a small vineyard, very steep, still horse-ploughed. The barrels are 2-5 years old from the Côte d’Or.
More aromatic impact, some oak here though. Wide, open, finely mineral. Melting. The oak is more than I like, today, but this will fade over 2-4 years. A fine finish, almost fizzy but I didn’t find gas…

2018 Meursault
A faint, proper, spice. Weight, density even, plenty of salinity and width – very Meursault – generous – but really I’d prefer more energy. The finish is fine though and slowly mouth-watering.

2018 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Folatières
More overt aromatic freshness – if not a very wide nose. More volume, more mineral style of structure. Layered. Not that much tension but certainly delicious wine. Long finishing. A wine that will surprise with age – I’m sure – but today not.

2018 Meursault 1er Genevrières
Bought in must.
Hmm – that’s got a good mineral freshness – very faintly but not unattractively oaked. Vibrant flavour – fine – depth, decent energy, complex – certainly oaky, but this will be super in another 2 years. The best balance yet – Yum!

2018 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Morgeot, Marquis de Laguiche
For a long time sold as Morgeot, not Morgeot 1er, but it was always a 1er. Laguiche owned since 1361, together with Drouhin since the 1940s, usually 3 different harvests
Rather a tighter nose, only suggesting depth. Fresh again, layered but again with nice energy – here no oaky make-up. This plays well over the palate. Delicious, excellent wine!

2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches
1921 purchased, 1928 first white vintage. Some declassifying this year – ‘whatever we didn’t think good enough’ – this all went into the Côte de Beaune Blanc.
Round, cushioned sweetness but still a suggestion of complexity. Lovely width, a little oak, a modest acid intensity, layered flavour – fine agrumes. Serious wine, slowly fading in the finish. Nicely phenolic finishing. In its prime in 5 years. Excellent, maybe even better!

2018 Corton-Charlemagne
From Les Languettes. One of the first Drouhin vineyards to be converted to biodynamics in the mid-1990s. Early picked – August 29 – all estate, still 8 barrels. Separately there is also a Maison Corton-Charlemagne.
Hmm. Almost a little sweet caramel on the nose – narrow but deep – almost vertical. Full, mineral, complex – this has good acidity. Fine middle and finishing complexity – the oak always relatively modest. A fine, fading finish. Very good!

2018 Montrachet
From 5 parcels named 1 to 5 – nice! 3 different picks as there are 2 hectares and because the vines have different ages
Quite an open nose – easy but attractive – slowly adding some pretty floral complexity – the first. Full, rich but balanced, you ride a wave of balanced flavour into the finish. More a wine for keeping than early drinking as it hasn’t a massive energy/vivacity today – but elegance it certainly has. Acidity excepted, there is more here, in all directions than all the other wines.

Les Rouges…

2018 Côte de Beaune
Young vine Clos des Mouches – hence the similarity of the label – plus other parcels, including other Beaune 1er crus and others in the Côte de Beaune.
Hmm – very aromatic – then tightens but a nice mineral salinity. Round, supple, tasty fruit – unctuous. Delicious, but lacks zip… Long finishing though.

2017 Beaune 1er Cras
Véronique’s dad’s favourite wine!
More impression of depth, but it’s a tighter nose. More structural, more depth to the layers of flavour. Equally delicious, but rich and needs more energy. Long finishing again.

2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches
A guarded nose – really tight if faintly spiced. Wide, mouth-filling, depth of great flavour, layered, I’d still like a bit more energy but compared to all the previous wines this a Beaune tour de force! Excellent.

2018 Vosne-Romanée 1er Petits Monts
Hmm, honestly this intense nose seems almost a little volatile – though it’s far from bottling so should improve here. Full, intense, really concentrated. Mouth-staining flavour. There are a lot of whole clusters here, nearly 50%, but the elegant freshness that they can bring is not yet evident. That said, there is certainly a lot of wine here – wait 10-20 years and drink the more elegant Vosne 1er in the waiting time…

2018 Corton
‘Bought grapes – this a blend of Hautes Murottes and Renardes – as our Bressandes has been pulled out’
A vibrant, practically volatile nose. A super combination of richness – but not too much – with fabulous texture. Cushioned velvet. The flavour is really over the top right now – a wine to wait for. Hopefully the last of the elevage will tone down the almost volatile aromas and flavours.

2018 Charmes-Chambertin
From Mazoyères – a contract for about 5 years.
Practically black. Dark, dark-red fruit – almost black – less impression of volatile, if faintly caramel, but still in that general direction. Supple, layered, great texture again, wide, luxurious in the mouth. Deliciously long finishing. Impressive über-tasty – but tiring wine to drink given the relative lack of freshness.

2018 Chambertin Clos de Bèze
A blend of estate and purchased grapes
A nose of high-toned impact like the others – there is a little something extra here – but it’s struggling to be heard. More compact, more mineral in the mouth. I like the more open energy here, but the fruit in the middle is not attractive for me in its ripeness. Super long finishing though.

2018 Clos de Vougeot
So deeply coloured. Super ripe but a more compact nose. More scale, more structural but open as good Clos de Vougeot should be. A modest astringency frames this wine. It’s complex and has good energy. One of the best for energy.

2018 Grands-Echézeaux
All estate grapes.
A little more airy (relatively) than all that have gone before – no impression of volatility. Better energy here, not quite incisive but getting there – mineral, almost graphite finishing. Long. Good.

2018 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Amoureuses
Very dark and ripe but here is, at least, a sense of aromatic calm. Open, a more visible complexity, modestly tannic but no grain. One of the best finishes – there is an open width of complexity here. “The most refined and delicate wine of Burgundy” says Véronique. Maybe, but not this wine, not this vintage.

2018 Bonnes-Mares
Lots of colour. Really a nose that is tending towards volatile – but less overtly than some others – and there’s an extra fresh complexity that I don’t see in other wines. Ripe, wide, beautifully textured. Just a little too much ripeness in the middle. Clean finishing though.

2018 Musigny
A compact but deep nose – very faintly whole-cluster spiced above. Wide, not too mouth-filling, a super texture, accented with astringency – but a subtle accent. Even the finish seems mouth-filling – that’s rare. An impressive wine.

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