Hello friends. “Chasing the dragon.” That’s how Pat in our office describes Burgundy-hunting, and it’s about as pithy a description as I’ve heard. Yes, those brave (foolish?) enough to go dragon hunting are sometimes rewarded with gold and jewels. But more frequently they’re rewarded with a mouthful of fiery Smaug breath.
Fortunately for us, we have a Pacific Northwest connection to one of the most consistent and classy producers of clean, honest Burgundy in the region: La Famille Drouhin.
We’ve offered Domaine Drouhin Oregon scads of times (on that note, did you all see this news that snuck in over the holidays? DDO doubling their vineyard holdings is a really positive development for the Willamette Valley, at least for this lover of Oregon Pinot), and our relationship with DDO has a serious fringe benefit, which is that we get access to some of the cherries from Maison Joseph Drouhin, often at outstanding tariffs.
Now, while the Drouhin roots in the Pac-NW are deep (they’ve been in Oregon since 1987), their roots in Burgundy are bottomless. Maison Joseph Drouhin was founded by Joseph Drouhin in the 1880s, and it is his great-granddaughter Veronique who helms the winemaking teams now, in both Burgundy and Oregon.
Our list members have had numerous opportunities to sample Veronique’s beautiful work with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Oregon. Today we have a chance to see the same varieties expressed through the prism of earthy Burgundy. And more specifically, through Rully.
This AOC in the Cote Chalonnaise is a value-hunter’s paradise when it comes to Burgundy. As Drouhin says, Rully sits “at the gate of the Cote d’Or” (see location on the Burg map here). Many of the soils are similar to the haughty neighbors to the north, but the pricing is quite different. The region is planted to about two-thirds Chardonnay and one-third Pinot Noir. Drouhin makes a blanc and a rouge, and we have both today:
2011 Maison Joseph Drouhin Rully Blanc
This was an incredible QPR standout in a lineup of whites, in particular showing better than the bigger-named (and $50 retail) Meursault. Before I even got to actual aromas, my note says “smells classy, expensive.” There is real complexity to this, unexpected at the tariff, with notes of smoky chestnuts (only 20% new oak here) and graphitic minerality and faint florals giving lift to a core of lemon-oil and pear fruit. The palate is noteworthy for its live-wire intensity and palate-coating character. This is a wine that is positively alive in the mouth, a glorious pastiche of mineral and fruit. It should age easily for a decade, but who can resist this right now?
Veronique Drouhin’s notes begin with: “A wine full of charm!” I couldn’t agree more. Charming juice to be sure.
2010 Maison Joseph Drouhin Rully Rouge
I was shocked to find a parcel of 2010 still available, so we went and did what we rarely do: pre-purchased the entire chunk. It shipped up from Oregon and just arrived this week, so the Rouge is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup/shipping.
What a glorious, crystalline vintage 2010 has turned out to be in Burgundy. Here’s what one of the leading authorities (Allen Meadows, Burghound) had to say about the vintage: “[TEXT WITHHELD].”
Well said, and that has been exactly my experience of good 2010s: ethereal, appetizing, characterful. That’s certainly true of this little beauty, with its precise, expressive aromatics of black cherry, silty minerals, and star anise. The nose evokes fruit and spice and soil in turn (the influence of new wood – just 10% here – is within a rounding error of zero). The palate contains a core of pure cherry fruit, framed by insistent citrusy acids and earthen/mineral bass notes. A marvel of verve and nervy energy, this rolls into a finish redolent of cherry-pit bitters, eagerly inviting the next sip. Already approachable and evocative, this is only going to get better and better.
It’s worth noting that Meadows never published a review of Drouhin’s Rully Rouge until the 2012 vintage, but he had high praise for it, listing it as an Outstanding Top Value and noting that it “would make a good choice for a house red as it could be enjoyed immediately yet should hold for a few years too if desired.”
The Blanc is first come first served up to 24 bottles; the Rouge please limit to 12, and we may have to allocate if orders exceed the stock already in the warehouse. We should have both wines in by the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.