2019 Joseph Drouhin Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru
Wine Details for 2019 Joseph Drouhin Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru
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: If you have a craving for some beautiful, mind-expanding Pinot Noir, few regions can match the talent and consistency of Burgundy. The grape almost seems like it evolved for this very region, and its essence will stimulate your senses and arouse your imagination. Drink deep and experience almost spiritual enlightenment.
: As one of the oldest grape varieties in the world, Pinot Noir has a long and storied history which began more than 2,000 years ago. This story spans form the time of ancient Roman influence to modern day trailblazing; Old World and New World grape growing. It also involves the most unlikely of “characters” from Cistercian Monks to the Holy Pope and even Hollywood actors; each playing a part in the development of the Noble Pinot Noir grape variety. For a grape that appears simple on the surface, it may be one of the most complex varietals on earth, playing a major role in the formation of some of the most profound and distinguished winegrowing regions in the world.
Pinot Noir’s exact origin remains relatively unknown as it is far too ancient to have been recorded precisely. It is thought to have been cultivated in the rocky hillsides of Burgundy by Roman hands as early as the 1st Century AD. At that time, Roman agronomist Columella identified and tasted wine that very much seems to be consistent with today’s description of Pinot Noir. There are complex theories on how either the Greeks or Romans took cuttings of Vitis Vinefera (Pinot Noir) from the area of Transcaucasia (modern day Turkey, Iraq and Iran) and brought the wild vines to France. Speculation aside, what we do know is that the wine-loving ancient Romans spread their dominion far and wide, leaving grapevines in their wake. Their innovative devotion to cultivating wine in French soil set in motion, nurtured, and influenced the winegrowing culture that we very much enjoy today.
Around 1000 AD, long after the dismantling of the Roman Empire, the history of Pinot Noir in Burgundy begins to have clarity, greatly due to the extraordinary record keeping of the Cistercian Order of Monks (formed from the Benedictine Order). The Cistercian Monks began gaining authority outside the area of what we know today as Dijon. Devoted to hard labor and prayer, the monks began cultivating the rocky hillsides of early Burgundy, painstakingly documenting detailed records of their vineyards. Centuries of specifying their practices, describing exactly how and exactly where vines thrived or failed and how the resulting wine tasted, the Cistercian Monks unwittingly created the world’s first harvest reports while simultaneously inventing the idea of terroir. These records and the notion that wines reflect their growing locales, permanently shaped the fundamentals of winegrowing and making terroir a critical concept.
This concept really gained attention when Pope Urban V refused to return the Papal court to Rome from Avignon due to unavailability of Burgundy wines south of the Alps. The lack of commerce routes inhibiting the Burgundy wine trade did not affect the Cistercian Order of Monks as they were driven towards higher quality and excellence through religious devotion instead of monetary gain. Both the outward remarks of the Pope and diligent efforts by the monks helped place Burgundy in a class of its own.
Pinot Noir would eventually spread its wings and infiltrate Champagne, Loire and Alsace, Provence, Sancerre and Languedoc, finding hospitable terroir and new purposes along the way. From bubbles to “pink” wine, it adapted to the soil, revealing the terroir through the wine itself. The early developments and manipulation of the Pinot Noir grape within France was a precursor for the inevitable. The varietal spread through Europe and eventually making a trip around the globe landing in the Willamette Valley, Oregon (planted in 1965 by David Lett).
The Pinot Noir grape quickly found a niche in Willamette Valley where it shares the same latitude of 45 degrees north, experiencing similar sunlight as well as a similar cooler climate to that of Burgundy. A few years later it would be introduced to California where it found terroir hotspots in both cool and surprisingly hotter climates, thus spreading to Napa, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Carneros among others, birthing New World Pinot Noir winemaking. And, of course, there was the Pinot craze that occurred after the release of the movie Sideways which manifested “Pinot snobs” around America. The 2004 American comedy set the market on fire, increasing sales of Pinot Noir in the state of California by 170 percent.
The varietal of Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates with terroir consisting of marl and limestone soils of extremely variable composition that mimics that of its ancestral home of Burgundy. For a grape that is notoriously difficult to grow, Pinot Noir is ubiquitous in winegrowing regions around the world, spanning 115,000 hectares. It may be a fussy grape, but when planted in the right location and climate, it reveals the qualities of its host terroir in many different manners.
The Noble Pinot Noir grape has greatly impacted the world of winegrowing and making while birthing the concept of terroir; from fruit forward Pinots produced in warmer California localities to New World Oregon wines with Burgundian nuances to Rose in Provence, bubbly in Champagne to the infamous Domaine de la Romanee Conti and its eye watering prices and unrivaled quality. Pinot Noir has long lived the quiet, elegant lifestyle giving Old World winemakers and consumers an ethereal pleasure. New World winemaking has granted it the opportunity for worldwide consumption on any budget and creating the Pinot Phenom. The varietal is now enjoying the best of both “worlds.”
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: Situated just west of the beautiful river Saone, the hills and valleys of Burgundy stand as they have stood since medieval times, and you can almost hear the cheerful chatter of vineyard workers from miles away. Indeed, France's identity in the world of wine would be incomplete without the inclusion of Burgundy and its many viticultural achievements. Every little sub-region of the area boasts a unique soil composition, which, when combined with the area's climate conditions, creates an incredibly diverse and appealing selection of fine wines.
Every new bottle is an adventure of its own, and a snapshot of its birthplace. You could spend years sampling great Burgundian wines, and you would still have a lot to learn, which is what makes the region so compelling for veterans and novice wine lovers alike. No matter what your taste in wines may be, there is a winery in Burgundy that could mesmerize your mind and make your senses scream with joy. And what better way to spend a comfy summer afternoon with your friends and family than with a classy bottle from some of the region's most reputable wineries? From the noble slopes of Cote d'Or to the flatlands near various settlements, let us help you on your journey as we explore Burgundy's most delicious and renowned wines.
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: Burgundy is one of (if not the) the most fascinating, revered and mind-expanding wine regions in the world. It possesses a multi-faceted and complex wine classification system, a mesmerizing history, unrivaled terroir and centuries of winemaking “know-how”. However, vineyard space in Burgundy, let alone, the Cote d’Or, is extremely prized, coveted and difficult to obtain. While it is considered fortunate to own a single parcel of land, it is even more remarkable to own multiple plots in several appellations. The previous statement sanctions an incredible awareness for the grandeur of Domaine Joseph Drouhin, who owns holdings in nearly every winemaking district in Burgundy (and surrounding areas) including the Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, Cote Chalonnaise, Maconnais, Chablis and Beaujolais. This incredible feat is a testament to the founding family’s sheer determination, personal sacrifice and guile. Today, Joseph Drouhin is one of the finest establishments in France and one of the largest producers of Burgundian wine, with a staggering history which defines the term, “adapt, overcome, and improvise.” Furthermore, the family’s many contributions to the region have been indispensable and advantageous.
The history of the domaine dates back to 1880 when Monsieur Joseph Drouhin, upon arriving in Beaune from Chablis founded the eponymous negociant firm (Maison Joseph Drouhin). He quickly discovered that the current trend, blending wines from throughout Burgundy and even the Rhone, was giving the region a poor reputation. Realizing this as well as finding disdain for this multi-regional blending of wines under the Burgundian label, did not sit well with Monsieur Drouhin’s son, Maurice, who took over on his father’s passing in 1918. He became heavily involved with the creation of the Institut of National des Appellations d’Origine, which would ultimately establish the French appellation control system. In chorus with this venture, Maurice began to purchase vineyards, including those in Clos des Mouches and Clos de Vougeot in order to establish a domaine for the family.
At the height of the German occupation during World War II, Maison Joseph Drouhin was the exclusive distributor of wines for Domaine de la Romanee Conti (DRC) in France and Belgium. He managed to hide many bottles along with his own wines, by building a wall in his cellar and swathing it with cobwebs in order for it to appear older, thus, fortifying the small fortune in a secure chamber. The Drouhin’s also wittingly assisted with bottling lesser quality wines under the house labels to send to the Nazis and Hitler, while keeping the good wines for the locals. This would eventually be noticed by the Nazis, who then deployed a wine master to oversee production. Fortunately, this German wine master happened to be good friends with Drouhin, so again the family was able to protect its most valuable wines in secret. Maurice’s status as the Mayor of Beaune, his production of fine wine as well as his involvement with the resistance, made him a high-profile target for the Gestapo, who began searching for him. He managed to escape, via Beaune’s underground tunnel system, to the Hospices de Beaune where remained incognito until the eventual liberation of Beaune.
After the war, the region was left devastated; however, Drouhin was able to recover financially by selling the hidden wines. This was a personal sacrifice that generated enough revenue to rebound the operations of Joseph Drouhin, which Laurent Drouhin (Grandson of Maurice) declares “another of his visionary ideas to preserve the legacy of the Domaine.” Maurice’s son, Robert, took control of operations in 1957 and like his father, recognized the value of the region’s terroir. He began expanding the domaine through the purchase of parcels in Cote de Nuits, Chambolle Musigny, and 40 hectares of unplanted land in Chablis: both an homage to his Grandfather and in recognition of the land’s immense potential. Once again, like his father and grandfather before him, he adapted to the ever-changing demands of nature and the world around it by eliminating the use of pesticides, developing organic and biodynamic approaches to viticulture which remain in use. Today, his children run the House of Joseph Drouhin, perpetuating the tradition set before them by their great grandfather, continuing his legacy 144 years later, never shying away from adapting, improvising or overcoming in order to obtain elegance and perfection, the hallmark of Joseph Drouhin.
The domaine of Joseph Drouhin spans 80 hectares throughout the Cote d’Or, Maconnais, Cote Chalonnaise, Chablis and Beaujolais, with 60% of the vineyards classified as either Premier or Grand Cru (90% in the Cote d’Or). Thanks to previous generation’s great foresight and ambitious efforts in acquiring prized land, the Drouhins own parcels in some of the most famous vineyards in Burgundy, such as Clos des Mouches, Musigny, Clos de Vougeot, and Corton Charlemagne, to name just a few. The two Burgundian grape varieties are cultivated in this historic terroir; however, Laurent Drouhin states, “We do not produce Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, we produce terroir wine. The truth is in the glass.”
In order “to bring natural answers to natural problems” Drouhin’s uses organic and biodynamic approaches in order to express the exact character of each terroir. Respecting the land of their ancestors is the surest way to preserving the terroir for future generations. The soil is ploughed by horse, while grass is permitted to grow between the vines to deter erosion and to create a natural refuge for beneficial predatory animals. Drouhin allows their vines to thrive using only natural methods such as herb-based decoctions and natural composting. The vines are densely planted, taking root as deep as possible, allowing the grapes to be receptive to the faintest message emanating from each soil. All vine-stocks are grown in their own nursery to preserve their genetic heritage and to control quality. This tedious, but incredibly brilliant method of operation in the vineyard produces a line of wines that speaks of the family’s dedication to preserving the land and ultimately, the intrinsic nature of the wines that mirror the terroir from which they are born.
The incredibly diverse portfolio of Joseph Drouhin is chock-full of elegant wines that are the truest expression of Burgundy and highlighted by their numerous Grand Cru offerings including Chablis Les Clos, Bougros and Vaudesir, Bonnes Mares, Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, Echezeaux, Musigny, Batard Montrachet, Corton Charlemagne, countless Premier Cru in each sub-region of Burgundy, and various “Cru” wines of Beaujolais. For some village or regional appellations, Joseph Drouhin complements its supplies by purchasing grapes from other vineyard owners who have been long time partners and share the same quest of excellence. This massive operation is able to produces between 300,000 to 400,000 cases each year.
As the great grandson of Joseph Drouhin so eloquently stated, “These wines reflect the passion from one vintage to the next, from one generation to the next, from one dream to the next, and from one century to the next. Wine is history and it is something special for me… As my great-grandfather looks down, I am here 139 years later sharing his legacy with you, connecting us all to generations past.” – Laurent Drouhin