Burgundy, France

Dominique Gruhier has had a rough ride. Yet he is one of the warmest, most charming, welcoming, well-mannered, and smiling men we know. As his domaine and his (currently) obscure appellation attract customers, he has been able to make the investments and changes that were necessary to let his talent shine. What beautiful wines have emerged! Fine, sexy, juicy, vivacious, saline and chalky. They are some of the greatest values in our entire portfolio for Pinot Noir, but not just any Pinot Noir: Chablisien Pinot Noir.

Starting in 2003, Dominique began to organically farm all of his Côte de Grisey. The rest of the domaine was farmed with only minor synthetic treatments around flowering time. In 2010, he began the organic certification process for the entire domaine. In 2012, overrun by the appalling vintage conditions, Dominique made one synthetic treatment, and even that not on all of his vines. “It was useless anyway because I sprayed too late,” he says. He had expected Ecocert, the certifying agency, to dock him for a single year, but it ordered him to start the three-year process over from square one. Organic certification for the entire domaine is expected in 2016.

In 2011, Dominique planted a conservatory to preserve the genetic diversity of his vineyards through massales selections. For example, there is a particularly good selection of Pinot in the Dannots, originally from the Aube, only a half-hour drive from Epineuil. It produces very long bunches that are loose and aerated, with a morphological resistance to rot.

On the winemaking front, it has taken Dominique practice to learn how to best work with the assertiveness of his terroir.

“When I began [pre-global warming] there were years when the wines only reached 10 or 10.5 degrees alcohol. They were undrinkable,” he says. “It took time to comprehend the terroirs, time to get over the desire to produce monster wines. There is already an intense fresh minerality, but stone is not butter. If you add unripe tannins to the minerality, you get wines that taste triangular. It’s not Chambolle here. I’m getting better. But when I was young, I made conneries de jeunesse, stupid youthful mistakes.”