2016 Echézeaux, Grand Cru, Domaine Dujac, Burgundy
Neal Martin - 29/12/2017
About this WINE
Jacques Seysses created Domaine Dujac in 1967 having decided to turn his passion into his vocation. He purchased, a somewhat rundown, Domaine Graillet in Morey-St Denis and quickly turned things around to make a showstopping debut with the 1969 vintage.
About Domaine Dujac
This is every bit the family business. Jacques’ wife Rosalind arrived from California to work the harvest and never left. They married in 1974 and today their sons Jeremy and Alec, together with Jeremy’s wife Diana, run the estate day to day. They remain under the watchful eye of their parents.
In the vineyard
Jacques first purchase was a small estate of 5ha, which today has grown to around 17ha. The jewels of the domaine are the seven plots in Grand Crus. Away from these exalted sites there are impeccable village vineyards and magnificent 1er crus, including Aux Combottes in Gevrey and Les Malconsorts in Vosne. Both of which are immediate neighbours of Grand Crus and produce extraordinary wines.
Jacques and Rosalind began running the vineyards according to the principles of lutte raisonée (where minimal chemicals are used) in 1987. Working consistently towards a more natural approach, in 2001 they experimented with organic viticulture in 4ha of their prime sites. Then adding biodynamic farming principles to the repertoire in 2003. They were so encouraged by the results in the bottle they made the switch to organic for the entire estate in 2008, earning certification in 2011. Their intensive work to create a natural and varied ecosystem is driven by their belief that the health of the soil is the key to unlocking great quality and producing more expressive wines.
In the winery
The evolution of the winemaking at Dujac has been guided by the principle that the largest imprint on the wines should be from the vineyards themselves. The approach is all about simplicity. The use of whole bunches in fermentation is a distinctive feature here and something for which Jacques has been a leading advocate. Jeremy feels that they add complexity and give silkier tannins, but they must be ripe so the approach is carefully adjusted according to the vintage.
In the winery they have sought to reduce manipulation wherever possible. After crushing the must is gravity fed into the cellar, avoiding the need for pumping which can exert too much force on the nascent wine. They have also been able to regulate alcohol and malolactic fermentations more precisely with improved temperature control. Dujac’s wines are not renowned as the most powerful and nor do they want them to be. These are wines of polished finesse and restraint, elegant aromatics, and depth of fruit. They are nothing short of beguiling.
The small commune of Vosne-Romanée is the Côte de Nuits’ brightest star, producing the finest and most expensive Pinot Noir wines in the world.. Its wines have an extraordinary intensity of fruit which manages to combine power and finesse more magically than in any other part of the Côte d’Or. The best examples balance extraordinary depth and richness with elegance and breeding.Situated just north of Nuits-St Georges, Vosne-Romanée boasts eight Grand Cru vineyards, three of which include the suffix Romanée, to which the village of Vosne appended its name in 1866. The famous La Romanée vineyard was formerly known as Le Cloux but was renamed in 1651, presumably after the Roman remains found nearby. In 1760 the property was bought by Prince de Conti, and subsequently became known as Romanée-Conti.
Vosne is the home of the phenomenally fine wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti; divine wines that are, as they say, not for everyone but for those who can afford them. The region also boasts some of the world’s most talented, quality-conscious and pioneering producers: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti of course, but also Henri Jayer, Lalou Bize-Leroy, René Engel, as well as the Grivot and Gros families, to name but a few.
Vosne-Romanée has the greatest concentration of top vineyards in the Côte d’Or, including the tiny Grand Crus of the astonishing La Romanée-Conti (a monopoly of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti producing about 600 cases a year), the classy, complex La Romanée (a monopoly of Vicomte Liger-Belair, but until 2002 bottled under Bouchard Père et Fils, producing a minuscule 300 cases or so a year) and the little-known La Grande Rue. As the name suggests, this runs up the side of the road out of Vosne. Originally a Premier Cru, it was rightly upgraded in 1992, although its rich, spicy, floral Pinots are yet to reach their real potential under Domaine Lamarche who hold it as a monopoly.
By convention the wines of neighbouring Flagey-Echézeaux are considered part of Vosne-Romanée. These include the large, very variable 30-hectare Echézeaux (divided between 84 different growers) and the more consistent, silky, intense, violet-scented Grands Echézeaux Grands Crus.
La Tâche is another monopoly of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. It is explosively seductive with a peerless finesse, and is almost as good as their legendary eponymous wine. Richebourg is one of Burgundy’s most voluptuous wines and is capable of challenging La Tâche in some years, while Romanée-St Vivant, which takes its name from the monastery of St Vivant built around 900AD in Vergy, has a lovely silky finesse but is slightly less powerful.
If that wasn’t enough, Vosne-Romanée also boasts some absolutely magnificent Premiers Crus headed by Clos des Réas, Les Malconsorts (just south of La Tâche, and arguably of Grand Cru quality) and Les Chaumes on the Nuits-St Georges side, Cros Parantoux (made famous by Henri Jayer), Les Beaux Monts and Les Suchots on the Flagey-Echézeaux border. The old maxim that ‘there are no common wines in Vosne-Romanée’ may not be strictly true, but it is not far off.
Drinking dates vary, but as a general rule of thumb Grand Crus are best drunk from at least 10 to 25 years, while Premier Crus can be enjoyed from 8 to 20 years, and village wines from 5 to 12 years.
There are no white wines produced in Vosne-Romanée.
- 99 hectares of village Vosne-Romanée.
- 56 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (14 in all). Foremost vineyards include Les Gaudichots, Les Malconsorts, Cros Parentoux, Les Suchots, Les Beauxmonts, En Orveaux and Les Reignots.
- 75 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Romanée-Conti, La Romanée, La Tache, Richebourg, Romanée St Vivant, La Grande Rue, Grands Echézeaux, Echézeaux.
- Recommended producers: Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Leroy, Cathiard, Engel, Rouget, Grivot, Liger Belair.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
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The 2016 Echzeaux Grand Cru was reduced by 50% due to frost. It has quite a closed, quite broody bouquet that takes time to open. This is actually not unlike a Malconsorts. However, the palate is very classy with a fine line of acidity, red and black fruit mingling together with a saline, marine-like finish that defines the final third. It does not quite possess the effortless harmony and focus of the Aux Malconsorts. But it has a satisfying focus with impressive length, to wit, a great success considering the growing season.
Neal Martin - 29/12/2017
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