The relationship between wine and the Drouhin-Laroze family stretches back centuries to 1850 when Jean-Baptiste Laroze established his business in Gevrey-Chambertin. It was a marriage in the early twentieth century that brought the current name into existence as well as expanding the portfolio to include Chambolle Musigny from the Laroze family.
The sixth generation is currently at the helm with Nicolas and Caroline working alongside their father Philippe Drouhin to manage a portfolio that includes the grand crus Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, Latricières-Chambertin and Chapelle-Chambertin as well as Musigny, Clos de Vougeot and Bonnes Mares. This is in addition to holdings in the premier crus of Lavaut St-Jacques, Clos-Prieur, Au Closeau and Craipillot, as well as the Village appellations of Chambolle Musigny, Morey-Saint-Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin.
As his role at Drouhin-Laroze has expanded, Nicolas Drouhin has effected a number of modifications to vineyard and winery practises. In the vineyard, the number of bunches per vines has been reduced for enhanced flavour intensity and in the winery a higher portion of whole bunch fermentation is used. The extraction methods have been changed from punching down to pumping over in a bid to achieve more gentle extraction and to enhance the quality of tannins. The maturation regime for the grand crus consists entirely of new oak, for the premier crus equal measures of new and second-use oak and the village wines are aged in one-year-old barrels.
Descriptors such as ‘majestic’, ‘superb and ‘eminently drinkable’ are frequently employed with respect to wines of Domaine Drouhin-Laroze and within the portfolio a distinctive mineral character is often revealed with the wines of Gevrey-Chambertin. Tim Atkin MW finds in the 2015 Lavaut-St-Jacques a wine that is “Minerally, crunchy and refreshing, with a backdrop of serious tannins, stylish aromatic oak and a core of juicy, tangy blackberry fruit”, while Allen Meadows of Burghound writes of the 2014 Au Closeau, “The finer and more mineral-inflected medium weight flavours possess a lovely sense of underlying tension … ”
Of the 2015 vintage, Jancis Robinson MW describes the Bonnes Mares, as a wine of “Great balance and suavity on the palate. Truly grand cru stuff with taffeta texture and a great spread of ripe fruit across the palate. Refined and really rather majestic.” Robinson awarded it 18+ points. The 2015 Chapelle-Chambertin was equally well received by Tim Atkin MW, who says that it is, “The most floral and refined of the Drouhin’s mouth-watering line up of Grands Crus...”
The future is definitely bright for Domaine Drouhin-Laroze and this excitement is shared by Neal Martin of Wine Advocate when he describes the 2014 Latricières-Chambertin, “This was one of the best expressions of this Grand Cru that I tasted: intense and yet elegant, shimmering with tension with great precision and detail on the finish. It stood out among their Grand Crus, representing a beacon to aim for perhaps.”
However, the final word might best come from Bill Nanson when he writes of the 2015 Gevrey-Chambertin Village, encapsulating exactly why the wines of Domaine Drouhin-Laroze are so enjoyable, “… Plenty of tannin but a nice fresh and complex aspect about this wine. Yum!”