Twenty years after Philippe Drouhin first began introducing organic practices to the vineyards making up the family company’s domaine (estate), Maison Joseph Drouhin (MJD), the highly regarded producer of Burgundy wines, has been awarded organic certification for all grapes grown within its vineyards beginning with the 2009 vintage. Announcement of the certification was made by Frédéric Drouhin, chief executive officer and president of Joseph Drouhin.
Although the Drouhin vineyards have been organic for years, official regulations require a three- year “conversion” period during which the rules of organic production are applied and verified in the vineyards. The certification process began in August 2006 with a lengthy application to Ecocert, one of several registered companies documenting organic production.
While 2009 is the official vintage year for organic certification, Philippe Drouhin, one of the four siblings running MJD and the one in charge of the company’s 73-hectare (182.5-acre) estate, including 38 hectares (just under 93 acres) of Chablis, now known as Chablis Drouhin Vaudon, began introducing organic practices back in 1990, shortly after joining the family firm. His father, Robert, had already returned to “culture raisonnée,” more traditional viticultural practices, in the late ’70s, but, as he says, “Philippe went further than I.”
Since he took over, Philippe has moved away from all but the most simple and natural treatments of the vine toward a non-interventionist approach and, beginning in 1997, has instituted many of the practices of biodynamie. Considered a leader in the field by fellow Burgundians, Philippe’s credo – and that of the entire family and company – is to bring natural responses to natural problems. Some vineyards are plowed by horses in the steepest areas; grass grows between vines to keep down weeds, fertilization is with natural compost; and treatments are done with herb infusions.
While many wine marketers trumpet organic and “green” credentials with seals, stickers, neckers and brochures, Maison Joseph Drouhin, in its principled and understated way, will confine its achievement only to press releases and web site information. Consumers may be assured, however, that beginning with the 2009 vintage, wines from Joseph Drouhin vineyards, most bearing the words “propriété de famille” on the label, are officially organic – as they actually have been for the past 20 years.
Known and appreciated for their elegant, refined style, the wines of Joseph Drouhin are imported into the U.S. and distributed nationally by Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., based in New York City, whose mission as an importer is to maintain loyalty to all that is special about family-owned and