Founded in 1880 by the then 22-year-old Joseph Drouhin, this famous Burgundy Negociant is still family owned. Of the current, fourth generation, Veronique Drouhin is the wine-maker, Laurent is the brand ambassador in the USA, Philippe is in charge of the vineyards, whilst Frederic conducts the orchestra".
Maison Joseph Drouhin owns extensive parcels throughout the region and in Chablis extending to 73 hectares, including the world-renowned Clos des Mouches, one of the earliest purchases made by joseph. From Montrachet Marquis de laguiche through Meursault to Corton Charlemagne in the Cote de Beaune, Echezaux to Clos de Vougeot in the Cote de Nuits, the domains produce a wide spectrum from Laforat Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge to grands Crus in Musigny and Chambertin. Drouhin's foremost concern is to express the exact character of each terroir.
Since 1993 they have worked their vineyards to organic and bio-dynamic principles, bringing natural answers to natural problems". Vine stocks are grown in their own nursery to preserve their genetic heritage and control quality, and vineyards are ploughed by horse with treatments based on herb infusions and the use of natural predators instead of synthetic products. Planting is dense and yields deliberately kept low. Vinification is traditional using indigenous yeasts and as little technical interference as possible, varied according to the needs of each terroir. Ageing takes account of the origin of each wine: stainless steel vats to enhance fruit and freshness in Chablis and Maconnais, oak barrels to develop complexity and finesse in Cote D'Or. New oak barrels are made from oak trees individually selected by Drouhin which are then weathered for three years so that all coarse tannins can be eliminated. Their use and the time the wine spends in them are determined by the appellation and the vintage.
The progress of every wine is meticulously monitored and recorded at every stage: Drouhin were one of the first houses in Burgundy to apply bar codes on the barrels to ensure total traceability and every cork is stamped Joseph Drouhin, the appellation and the vintage, in order to guarantee the authenticity of the wine.
This site is a few kilometers south of Beaune, in the prestigious area known as Cote des Blancs (slope of the whites). The Premier Cru vineyard is located in the southern part of the Meursault appellation.
At one time hornbeam (or beech) trees ("charmes", in French) may have grown here, across the path from the vineyard "Perrieres", with its white and sharp little stones covering the surface. Some people like to derive its etymology from the word "charm", an apt depiction of the vineyard since it is easy to work, has a sunny exposure, a mild slope and affords a beautiful view over the valley. Other people refer to the "charm" of this wine as another possible derivation.
The soil is of limestone and clay with a plantation density of 10,000 stocks/ha in order to extract all possible nuances from the terroir.
Vines are planted in the Guyot system with a yield of 45hl/ha, low on purpose to limit the production of each vine stock.
Pressing is very slow so as to respect fruit. Juices from the very last pressings are not retained.
No cultured yeasts or enzymes are used. The wine goes directly into barrels after "debourbage" (decanting of white wine to reduce sediment).
The wine is aged in French Oak barrels (25% in new oak) for 12 months.
Joseph Drouhin insists on total control of the weathering of the oak for a period of 3 years, one of the contributing elements to the elegance of the wine.
Throughout the ageing process, decisions are taken only after careful tasting evaluation. The data obtained is then completed through technical analysis. As with every other Joseph Drouhin wine, absolute priority is given to the true expression of terroir and character of the vintage.
At first sight, the wine is a perfect illustration of its place name. It is worthy of the wonderful Meursault whose colour is golden without being yellow. The nose, concentrated and elegant, full without being heady, evokes aromas of almond, warm bread just taken out of the oven, hot croissant, then, fine spice and finally grilled dried fruit. The flavours are at the same refined level as the aromas. The body is round without being heavy; the acidity is well integrated and is never biting. The texture feels like silk without the alcohol ever being dominant. The wine develops on the palate and opens up fully until the very long aftertaste brings back some of the precious aromas felt in the bouquet: almond paste and hot brioche.