Dominique may have officially retired, but he still spends his days in the vineyards and in the cellar, tasting with Julien Altaber and Carole Schwab; the duo who have taken over the domaine. Honouring Dominique, they continue to make the wines under his name and according to his vinification practices, for this is not simply a retired vigneron. Dominique has been a friend, teacher and influence for so many aspiring farmers and winemakers who wish to work without chemicals.
Here, it has never been about making fancy, dressed-up wines in their tuxedos, dresses and heels. Rather, this is Burgundy in the nude - it is the skin and bones of these old vines that speak through the unadulterated wines.
“It was my childhood dream: to make wines that I like to drink. If I’ve succeeded in doing that, then I’m happy. It might not be so ambitious, but that was always my goal.”
People: Dominique Derain, Julien Altaber and Carole Schwab
Place: St Aubin, Pommard, Mercurey and Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy, France
Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Beurot
Wines: Click here
Did You Know? Since the beginning of his path of biodynamic farming, Dominique’s goal has always been to freely discuss and share knowledge. This would eventually lead to him leaving Demeter (a biodynamic association) when its membership fees were increased; in his eyes it had become too commercial. Instead, he and colleagues formed their own group together with Alain and Julien Guillot. They meet twice a year, and welcome wine growers from all over to join, for no cost; just for open discussion and a casse croûte.
Several of Dominique’s plots are planted to very old vines; sometimes older than 100 years old, and his Mercurey "La Plante Chassey" plot, planted in 1936, still has some Pinot Beurot (a mutation of Pinot Noir, like Pinot Gris). Once upon a time this was common in the region, but it is now a rarity to find in a world that is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay obsessed. He says,
“Pinot Beurot is such a pretty Burgundian variety and it’s really special. The name might come from the old French word, bure, which was the name of the clothes the monks wore. The monks did a lot for wine.”
There is also some Aligoté interplanted in his old vineyards, and he also has some vineyard plots planted solely to Aligoté. Together with Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, they began selecting old vine examples, which are now preserved in a conservatory vineyard, to ensure the genetic diversity is not lost.