It’s not every day that you get to sit down and break bread with a legendary Burgundy producer.
Yet that is precisely what happened when I was invited to lunch recently with Laurent Drouhin of Burgundy’s renowned Maison Joseph Drouhin at Seattle’s Virginia Inn by Pike Place Market.
Founded in Beaune in 1880, Maison Joseph Drouhin’s cellars have spread from the historical Cellars of the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France in Beaune (12th-18th centuries) to the Moulin de Vaudon, an 18th Century watermill in Chablis.
The Joseph Drouhin Domaine was assembled parcel by parcel over the years and comprises today 73 hectares (182.5 acres) of vineyards in Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Chablis. It is one of the most important domains in Burgundy, with more than two thirds of the vineyards classified as Premier and Grand Crus.
Laurent Drouhin who, along with his sister Véronique and brothers Frédéric and Philippe, are the latest fourth generation to run the venerable grower and negociant house in the village of Beaune.
The Virginia Inn is a Pike Market institution offering classic French bistro fare so, naturally, I ordered the Boeuf Bourgignon. It arrived at a perfect time because we finished whites and were starting on the reds. It was old school and excellent!
Laurent guided us through a tasting of 11 wines; 5 white and 6 red:
2015 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis $21.99
Nice mineral notes result from the region’s poor pebbly soils of Kimmeridgian limestone. Good value here. Fresh apple, lemon and stony flavors that play off the lively acidity. Stays juicy and long on the finish.
2015 Pouilly Vinzelles $19.99
“Clean and focused, this white evokes lemon, oak spice and mineral flavors. Has plenty of tension and builds to a long aftertaste of citrus and mineral.”
90 points Wine Spectator
2015 Chassagne-Montrachet $65.99
“Notes of petrol, resin and essence of pear and white peach can be found on the nicely layered nose. The rich, full-bodied and very generously proportioned medium weight flavors possess lovely mid-palate concentration while delivering good length on the relatively powerful finish. This is not especially complex at present though there is better aging potential here and this may surprise to the upside.” Burghound
2015 Meursault $55.99
“A ripe but classic nose of hazelnut and fresh white orchard fruit aromas is trimmed in a hint of matchstick. The rich, full and naturally sweet middle weight flavors also possess fine depth and length for a villages level wine. This is seductively delicious if a bit less energetic but richer and one that should repay 4 to 6 years of cellar time.” Burghound
2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Chardonnay $31.99
“Pale yellow-gold. Intense, mineral-inflected orchard and pit fruit, lavender and buttered toast aromas are complicated by oyster shell, fennel and vanilla nuances. Concentrated yet nervy and light on its feet, offering palate-staining, oak-kissed pear nectar, Meyer lemon and candied ginger flavors underscored by a vein of smoky minerality. Shows superb energy and power on the floral-tinged finish, which hangs on with serious, mineral-driven tenacity.”
Josh Raynolds, Vinous
2015 Chorey-lès-Beaume $27.99
“Bright, full red. Cool aromas of cherry, licorice and menthol. Juicy red berry flavors are accented by a hint of licorice. The tannins are firm but not dry, with the persistent finish displaying attractive perfumed lift. This makes the Rully seem a bit rustic by comparison.” Stephan Tanzer, Vinous
2015 Savigny-lès-Beaune $37.99
This is Chorey’s more muscular brother with richer, darker fruit. Laurent said that they declassify some premier crus here, as they do with other village appellations. 18 months in French oak barriques.
2015 Gevrey Chambertin $61.99
“Captivating aromas and flavors of pure cherry, mineral, tobacco and spice mark this supple red. Beautifully balanced, this remains long on the finish, driven by succulent acidity. Best from 2020 through 2033.” Wine Spectator
2011 Beaune Clos de Mouches 1er Cru $114.99
The 2011 Beaune Clos des Mouches impresses for its intensity. Green pears, exotic flowers, mint, citrus and crushed rocks are all very much alive in the glass. The flavors are beautifully defined in a salivating, crystalline wine full of personality. Clos des Mouches remains one of the undiscovered jewels of Burgundy in its price range. The 2011 is likely to enjoy broad drinking window that will last several decades. Antonio Galloni, Vinous
2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Zéphirine Pinot Noir $31.99
“Brilliant red. Vibrant, spice-accented red fruit liqueur, floral pastille and incense aromas, along with an intense mineral topnote. Stains the palate with sweet raspberry and spicecake flavors that show impressive depth as well as delicacy and nervy cut. Silky, seamless and precise, finishing with outstanding energy and velvety, slow-building tannins that harmonize smoothly with the deep fruit.”
Josh Raynolds, Vinous
Arnie Millan is Esquin’s European Buyer and Resident Expert on all things Burgundy.