Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, April 20 2023

Laurent Drouhin

By: Anthony Gismondi & Treve Ring
Bon Beaune Family Style

The Drouhin label is one of noble heritage. Burgundian Laurent Drouhin was in Vancouver this month to talk about the family wines, a surprising number of which you can buy in BCL stores, which is a pleasant surprise.

The Drouhin label is one of noble heritage. Burgundian Laurent Drouhin was in Vancouver this month to talk about the family wines, a surprising number of which you can buy in BCL stores, which is a pleasant surprise.

Laurent lives in New York and oversees the U.S. and Canadian markets for Domaine Joseph Drouhin and Drouhin Oregon.

In 1880 founder Joseph Drouhin, an enterprising young man from Chablis settled in Beaune at 22. There he founded the eponymous Burgundian Negociant firm with the noble aim of making excellent quality wines. His son Maurice succeeded him in 1918 and began establishing vineyards in the renowned Burgundy appellations of Clos des Mouches and Clos de Vougeot.

In 1957, Maurice’s adopted son Robert Drouhin set out to give the company its present dimension, acquiring many more vineyards across Burgundy. He made several significant decisions to put the company on the path to making high-quality wine while expanding its reach and production to become a thriving Burgundian négociant house and one of its most important estates before stepping back in 2003.

Robert’s firsts were many, as in the first Burgundian producer to buy significant land in Chablis. He was the first in Burgundy to introduce “culture raisonnée,” eliminating harmful pesticides and going organic and biodynamic in his vineyards. He was the first in Burgundy to hire a woman winemaker in Laurence Jobard, now considered one of Franc’s best enologists. His decision to acquire vineyards in Oregon in 1987 was equally bold, and 36 years later, it has proven phenomenally successful.

Today, Maison Joseph Drouhin is run by Robert’s four children, Frédéric, Philippe, Véronique and Laurent. After dreaming of a life as a windsurfer and working in private banking, Laurent soon realized he was missing Burgundy and the business of wine. His passion ignited, and he is now a valued member of the all-family team. We met to discuss and taste some of the 16 labels in government stores and select private wine shops.

Modern-day Domaine Joseph Drouhin is one of the largest estates in Burgundy, with 82 hectares of vineyards in Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Chablis and some of the most famous labels in Burgundy, like Clos des Mouches, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, Musigny and Corton-Charlemagne. Laurent describes the Drouhin style as a combination of complexity, elegance and finesse. I would add that at times of skyrocketing prices in Burgundy; it still offers relative affordability.

Beaune is at the core of the Drouhin business and two signature Cote de Beaune wines. The Blanc and Rouge are widely available in B.C. The Côte de Beaune is in the southern half of Burgundy’s legendary Cote d’Or region. It is renowned for its extraordinary Chardonnay wines and often underappreciated for its elegant Pinot Noirs.

The foray into Chablis in 1968 spawned several outstanding labels led by two Grand Crus or the best of the best, Les Clos and Les Vaudesir. Both are currently listed in BCL stores.

Two stylish reds to look for that will ease you into the world of red Burgundy include the Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaune 2020 and the Joseph Drouhin Côte de Beaune Rouge 2017. The former is classic Beaune, well-balanced and full of juicy red fruit flavours with a modicum of tannin from a vineyard first planted in 1237. The latter 2017 Cote de Beaune, now five years old, is a beautiful introduction to the appellation and an excellent example of how bottle age can help any wine overcome some of the vagaries of the vintage, in this case, a year with little fanfare.

The current labels have more than just the name Drouhin in common. Each has what Robert Drouhin had imagined they would be so many years ago — exceptional quality wines reflecting the noble grapes and revered appellations they come from.

Listen to a special two-part interview with Laurent Drouhin:

B.C. Food & Wine Radio, March 1, 2023

Written By:
Anthony Gismondi & Treve Ring
Anthony Gismondi & Treve Ring

Every week Treve Ring and Anthony Gismondi collaborate on our Top Ten list, released on Thursday morning, often with a timely theme. If you count carefully the list will more than likely exceed ten names but only because we believe if any wine is tied by a score that makes our list it should be included. We know many of you are wine savvy and can do your own sleuthing to locate our weekly picks but for those who asked: BCLS means it is sold in government retail stores; when we say private wine shops we mean it could be in any private wine shop or liquor retail store (LRS); winery direct means check with the winery online. If it’s not sold in BC we usually try and give you a suggested retail price. Prices change hourly in BC – the price we post is what we are given at publication.