Joseph Drouhin is one of the most respected names in the world of wine. Founded in 1880 by Joseph Drouhin, this prestigious Burgundy firm is presently being run with great critical and commercial success by the fourth generation of the Drouhin family: Frédéric, Laurent, Philippe, and Véronique Drouhin are firmly at the helm. They have taken over for their legendary father, Robert, who retired in 2003.
A négociant (wholesale merchant) and domain grower and producer, Maison Joseph Drouhin fashions many of Burgundy’s greatest red and white wines, including several spectacular Premier Cru and Grand Chablis, and the celebrated Marquis de la Guiche Montrachet, a wine that has been called “the world’s greatest white wine.” Furthermore, the tremendous critical acclaim Drouhin’s wines have received across the board in recent years underscores just how terrific the entire Drouhin portfolio is from top to bottom. Beholden of 150 acres of prime Burgundy vineyards, which are spread throughout the region’s top communes, plus 125 acres in Oregon, one could spend a lifetime discovering the wines of Burgundy and the lure of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, without ever leaving Maison Drouhin.
Equally adept with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Maison Drouhin possesses some of the finest vineyards in Chablis and Chassagne-Montrachet for white wines and equally superb holdings for reds on both the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. All of Drouhin’s estate wines are grown and produced using sustainable methods of agriculture. The Drouhin fields are plowed and natural compost is spread; and wild grass still grows between the vineyard rows, which means no chemical fertilizers or herbicides are ever used. Moreover, Maison Drouhin has for years used the most natural weapons against insects and vine diseases by introducing natural bacteria and predators into the vineyards, rather than resorting to systemic control through chemicals. All of Maison Drouhin’s grapes remain hand harvested and, for the estate’s red wines, only natural, wild yeasts are employed during fermentation. The results are simple: Drouhin produces only the best at every level of quality.
Chablis is a distinct part of Burgundy as well as one of the world’s finest white wines. Since the 12th century, when Cistercian monks introduced Chardonnay into the region, the name Chablis has been synonymous with outstanding white wine. No wonder, then, that so many generations of California producers tacked the name Chablis onto their inferior generic wares, hoping to elevate their simple white wines in the eyes of consumers.
Today, all authentic Chablis is derived exclusively from Chardonnay grapes that are grown in Chablis’ chalky, limestone-rich soil known as Kimmeridgian. The name Kimmeridgian is in reference to an identical landmass that scientists identified in England’s Kimmeridge Bay. Chablis possesses one of the world’s greatest terroirs for the cultivation of white grapes; the Chablis appellation (A.O.C.) sits upon what was once the floor of an ancient sea bed dating from the Second Jurassic Period (also known as Kimmeridgian) that now feeds the region’s Chardonnay vines. Because of this special terroir, Chablis yields unique, dry, mineral rich wines of considerable finesse and flavor.
The French National Institute of Appellation d’Origine Controlée (A.O.C.) recognizes four distinct areas of Chablis: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru, and Chablis Grand Cru. All offer the taster a special experience. However, in recent years it is the Chablis and Premier Cru appellations that have come to fore, producing some of the region’s finest quality and value. In total all four districts of Chablis cover just 7,000 hectares (15,400 acres). The best parcels typically occupy the region’s hillsides, making such choice parcels in Chablis and the surrounding Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards the most apt to yield the region’s fullest, most complex wines.