497: Robert Drouhin Is From A Good Vintage

JAN 7, 2024103 MIN
I'll Drink to That! Wine Talk

497: Robert Drouhin Is From A Good Vintage

JAN 7, 2024103 MIN


Robert Drouhin and his family own Maison Joseph Drouhin in the Burgundy region of France, as well as Domaine Drouhin in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Robert describes moving to Burgundy as a child, and his experiences around Beaune during World War 2. His adoptive father, Maurice Drouhin, owned the Maison Joseph Drouhin winery, and began instructing Robert in the specifics of wine. Maurice was a wine producer, making wines from vineyards near Beaune. Robert remembers Maurice also as a sales agent for the wines of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, and a Vice President of the Hospices de Beaune. Robert recalls Maurice hiding from arrest by the Nazis during the war years, taking shelter for months in the Hospices de Beaune. When Maurice had a medical emergency, Robert assumed control of the Maison Joseph Drouhin winery.

Robert discusses the notable Burgundy vintages of the 20th century, from the 1930s through the 1990s. He also talks about his decision making after taking control of Maison Joseph Drouhin at the age of 24. He recalls traveling to California and meeting Robert Mondavi. He then describes the development of enology and new techniques for wine in the 1950s, his experiments, and eventual response to the wines produced with new methods. Robert talks about the wave of vine replantings that took hold in Burgundy after World War 2, and what that meant for the wines. He expanded the Drouhin vineyard holdings in the Cote d’Or and in Chablis, and Robert talks about the characteristics of famous vineyards like Le Montrachet, the Clos des Mouches, Griotte-Chambertin, Musigny, Bonnes-Mares, Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, and Vosne-Romanee Les Petits Monts.

Robert talks about his children, and their roles in the Drouhin businesses today. He remembers hiring Laurence Jobard at Drouhin in the 1970s. He talks about the style of the Drouhin wines, and takes up the question of tannins and extraction in red Burgundy wines. He also speaks about the changes in the Drouhin winemaking in Burgundy since the 1960s, touching on topics like temperature control, filtering, fining, new oak, and the timing of bottling. Robert experimented in the 1980s with vinifying wine by hand destemming and natural fermentation, utilizing a sixteenth century press and adding sulphur in the old way. He compares the results of those methods to the Drouhin wines made in the contemporary way. He shares his reflections about what makes for a good wine, and at what stage it may be drunk at its best.

In the 1980s, Robert Drouhin purchased vineyard land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and he speaks about what led up to that purchase and the formation of Domaine Drouhin in Oregon. He talks about exchanging experiences and ideas with grape growers in Oregon, and divulges what he learned there. He also recalls the blind tastings that launched his interest in Pinot Noir from Oregon. He then describes the differences of the wines from the divergent vineyard parcels Drouhin owns in Oregon today, and mentions that further knowledge of the different growing areas of Oregon is something that is still in development. Robert contends that organic farming is easier in Oregon than it is in Burgundy, because of the different weather patterns in those places. He also speaks about the introduction of organic practices in some Drouhin vineyards in Burgundy. He gives an overview of the vineyard practices of Drouhin in Burgundy.

This episode features commentary from:

Jason Lett, The Eyrie Vineyards

Steve Doerner, Cristom Vineyards

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