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Profile: Domaine Dujac (Morey St.Denis)

dujac_01
The core of what is today Domaine Dujac, was the Domaine Marcel Graillet in Morey St.Denis. Marcel Graillet was a vigneron in Morey, working either behind a horse or on a tractor in the 1960s. It was not a large domaine, covering about 4.5 hectares, but it included vines in such prime locations as Clos de la Roche, Clos St.Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Combottes. It had been an even larger domaine, but had sold its monopoly Morey 1er Clos de la Bussière to Domaine Georges Roumier in 1959. Where there is one sale, there may perhaps be others…

Louis Seysses was the owner and president of a biscuit factory, but away from the day-job he also had a keen interest in fine dining and, of-course, the appropriate wines as accompaniment – he introduced his son Jacques to such important matters whilst Jacques was still very young. Later Jacques would work a couple of vintages with Gérard Potel at Domaine Pousse d’Or in Volnay (his father Louis already had some financial interest in that domaine) and despite having experienced working as a banker in both New York and Paris, he found himself being further drawn to the Côte d’Or. Inevitably, and with the backing of his father Louis, Jacques set out looking for a domaine he could call his own – Domaine Marcel Graillet perfectly fit the bill and towards the end of 1967 a deal was done – Jacques had his foothold in burgundy, but it still wasn’t a full-time rôle; in the 1960s, 4.5 hectares was not enough to support some-one – even if it had a lot of grand cru!

The first year for Jacques, 1968, was a tough one. Not only were his winemaking facilities underpowered (Graillet had sold everything in bulk to négoce), but because Graillet had no client base, he would have to build one from scratch. There was also the not inconsiderable matter of Jacques’ shift away from chemicals and herbicides – radical indeed in those years. In the end he sold off the whole vintage to the négoce – but better times were just around the corner.

By the start of the 1969 vintage there were an additional 0.7 hectares of vines in Echézeaux and 0.30 hectares from Bonnes-Mares to harvest, and Jacques had largely managed to update the winemaking facilities – apparently there was insufficient time to insulate the new constructions so the cold winter meant that the wines evolved at a glacial pace – but it was a very good vintage. Clearly a market had to be found, but Seysses père came up trumps with his many restaurant contacts – still today, sales to restaurants are a significant market for the domaine. If the 69 vintage had been a technical success for the new domaine, the 1970 vintage put them on the road to commercial success when the US importer Frederick Wildman came calling; first he tasted, then he wanted to buy everything! Jacques offered him half…

Vines

The Seysses family have chosen to live and work on their own lands. The area of vines they manage is today just over 15 hectares, the most recent jump coming in 2005 when, as part of a consortium, they added approximately 3 hectares of well-sited vines from Domaine Thomas-Moillard. The new Bonnes-Mares vines are on terres blanches (white soil) versus their original parcel which is rooted on darker (terres rouges) soil.

Vineyard Holding (ha)
Bourgogne Blanc 0.19
Morey Saint Denis Blanc 0.65
Morey Saint Denis 1er Les Monts Luisants 0.60
Morey Saint Denis 2.92
Chambolle Musigny 0.64
Morey Saint Denis 1er 0.79
Chambolle Musigny 1er Les Gruenchers 0.32
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Les Combottes 1.15
Vosne Romanée 1er Les Beaux Monts 0.73
Vosne Romanée 1er Aux Malconsorts 1.57
Charmes Chambertin 0.70
Clos Saint Denis 1.29
Clos de la Roche 1.95
Echézeaux 0.69
Bonnes Mares 0.58
Chambertin 0.29
Romanée Saint Vivant 0.16

These 15 hectares are tractor hoed, grass is allowed to grow to keep the topsoil firm, and a balance of insects are not just tolerated, but encouraged as a natural form of pest control.

Two-thirds of the vines in 2007 and 100% in 2008 would be classed as being managed in an organic way – certification will begin in 2010. ‘‘We are biodynamic, but I try not to make too much of it – we will certainly never be putting our organic status on the bottles. It’s just about good winemaking,” Jacques is quoted as saying, ‘‘In the end it’s not about what we do, it’s about the soils and plots of Burgundy. Great wine was made long before science and technology were introduced to winemaking.”

In the vineyards much work has been done finding the right clones for consistent yields of smaller berries and bunches. The target is six bunches per vine which should come out at about 35 hl/ha – their 60-year-old pre-clone vines in premier cru Chambolle-Musigny Les Gruenchers produce small healthy berries and bunches so for some time were used as a mother vineyard for regular sélection massale. The Morey St.Denis blanc comes from vines planted after the frosts of 1985 sited between the Seysses house and the RN74.

Traditional vinifications – using whole bunches

The 1995 book ‘Côte d’Or’ by Clive Coates suggests 4 phases in the winemaking of the domaine, the latter two covering the tenure of Christophe Morin who joined in 1986 as a full time vineyard manager until his tragic death in a motorcycle accident in 2001. Lilian Robin, his number 2, moved-up to take his place. Today we have a new phase as son, Jeremy Seysses manages the vinifications with his wife, Diana, a UC Davis graduate in oenology managing the cellar management. Younger son, Alec Seysses, is taking on the domaine’s administrative duties. Jeremy also manages a small négociant operation, Maison Dujac Fils et Père with wines made from purchased grapes from various village appellations.

The domaine has traditionally vinified with 100% stems, i.e. whole grape-bunches, low-temperature fermentations and a significant percentage of new Allier French oak. The oak has a normal 30 month drying cycle and is specified as low toast. Recent vintages have shown their more flexible side; plenty of de-stemming in the 2001 vintage, but only 10% to 20% of the fruit was destemmed in 2002. “2004 was a year where sorting was a big thing. We had healthy grapes, but the hail made it difficult – We destemmed more among the fruit from the vineyards with the most hail. You had to be careful not to over-extract vegetal elements”. 2006 – “we used anywhere from 50 to 100% whole clusters.”

The different wines evolve for 12-16 months in cask and are typically racked only once, just after the malo. They remain in cask until bottling. Dujac reds are bottled without fining most years and unfiltered in all. The grapes for the whites whites are only very lightly crushed, and there is no battonage.

A selection of wines tasted at the Domaine

30th May 2009. For my palate, the style of the wines has evolved since the mid-1990’s. Today they retain the elegance and finesse of older bottles but unlike a majority of producers who retain their stems (Arlot, Bourée, Prieuré-Roch etc) the aromatic influence in the Dujac bottles is becoming ever-more subtle – I think only DRC and Leroy regularly achieve this level of ‘integration’. The typical smokiness is beginning to give way to higher tones and complexity. Never cheap bottles, but this is a knock-out selection of 2007s – much as I am a Clos St.Denis fiend and much as I thought the Combottes to be super, I was surprised to find the Morey 1er Blanc to be my ‘lieblings weine’ from this selection.

2007 Dujac, Morey St.Denis Blanc try to find this wine...
From the lower part of the slopes. Pale yellow. High tones mix with a faint oak note. The oak begins to fade as the aromas take on more depth – just a hint of sulfur on the nose. Across the tongue it is wide, with a lovely freshness. The flavours of ripe fruit slowly penetrate the tongue. This is lovely.
2007 Dujac, Morey St.Denis 1er Monts Luisants Blanc try to find this wine...
Pale yellow. The nose is more understated than the villages but offers up a finer selection of agrume style aromas. Flowing acidity, minerality and a wonderful intensity – even nervosity. I am smitten by this. A beautiful, beautiful wine.
2007 Dujac, Morey St.Denis try to find this wine...
Aromatically high-toned with a very pretty red-black fruit melange. In the mouth there’s a pleasing width of creamy red fruit and nice minerality. Good underlying acidity and hidden tannin. Lovely.
2007 Dujac, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Combottes try to find this wine...
These vines were mainly planted in two tranches in 1987 and 1991. Medium colour – just a little deeper than the villages. This beautiful nose that just hints towards stems is just so fine and soft but offers beautiful depth. Silky texture with a super dimension of creamy fruit. The finish lingers with a little oak bitterness – this will fade. I think this wine is gorgeous.

I love to compare Clos St.Denis and Clos de la Roche when in the same cellar and here is one of the best addresses to do this. I guess my notes essentially capture the typical difference; Clos St.Denis – perfume, fruit, beauty; Clos de la Roche – power minerality…

2007 Dujac, Clos St.Denis try to find this wine...
Wide aromatics – the depth initially seems a little ‘clipped’ but slowly it opens up and widens out with shades of stems and becomes ever-more perfumed. After the Combottes, there is more minerality and as good as that wine was, there is yet extra dimension of mid-palate fruits. Superbly long – beautiful.
2007 Dujac, Clos de la Roche try to find this wine...
The nose offers flashes of perfect fruit and faint smoke. Mineral, wide and with good acidity – there’s almost a salty ‘tang’ to the very long finish finish. More power and minerality than the Clos St.Denis, but less comfortingly fruity.
2007 Dujac, Vosne-Romanée 1er Beaux Monts try to find this wine...
This was previously a small cuvée for the domaine – 0.024 hectares, replanted in 1987. The addition of the 0.5 ha Moillard plot changes that. The vines were neighbouring and much older so the character of the domaine’s wine is now changing. They have moved them from cane to spur pruning and in this transition phase for the vines they are experiencing low yields. On the nose there’s a taught beadth of red fruit that overlays a faint muskiness. Very silky in the mouth, understated creamy intensity (maybe it’s only understated because it follows the Clos de la Roche!) in the mid-palate. Again, a long, mineral and satisfying finish.
2007 Dujac, Vosne-Romanée 1er Malconsorts try to find this wine...
This is a little more ethereal on the nose – not so much impact – the red fruits slowly take on more clarity. If I may not have guess Malconsorts on the nose, there is ample demonstration in the mouth-filling flavours; width, dimension and complexity. Again there’s a minerality that travels the full length of the considerable finish.
2007 Dujac, Echézeaux try to find this wine...
This is from vines planted N-S in Champs Traversins. Starting with the healthiest vines in 2001, various portions of vines were moved to ‘bio’ farming – each year a little more. 2007 is the first vintage where everything was organic/bio. Medium colour. The notes starts just a little diffuse, but slowly comes together to show flashes of brilliant fruit against soft, smoky stems. The tannin, whilst velvety, is the most visible in any of these wines – there is no astringency though. Whilst there is really good dimension in the mid-palate, this is clearly a wine of complexity rather than overt power. Just a little oak flavour on the finish, but no oak texture. Fine.

Domaine Dujac
7, rue de la Bussière
21220 Morey Saint Denis
France
Tel. +33 380 340 100
Fax +33 380 340 109
http://www.dujac.com/

3 responses to “Profile: Domaine Dujac (Morey St.Denis)”

  1. phil eaves

    Bill Have you tried other vintages of the Monts Luisants white to compare ? I always find this a fantastic white.

    Phil

  2. Sangreal by Farr 2004 • Geelong, Victoria | VinoVeracity – that Wine & Food Guy

    […] Farr apparently spent time in California at Josh Jensen’s Calera Vineyards as well as time at Domaine Dujac, with Jacques and Rosalind Seysses in Morey St. Denis.  I’ve tasted and drank quite a few […]

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