- Vineyard Area: 6 ha
- Varieties Cultivated: Pinot Noir
- Country: France
- Winemaker: Claude Dugat
Claude Dugat is the undisputed star of Gevrey-Chambertin and one of France’s most respected winegrowers. The family’s viticultural history began in the early 19th century, when Annet Dugat, a mason from the Auvergne, came to Burgundy to work on the region’s canal systems. He married a vigneron’s daughter in Gevrey and established a path for himself and the generations of Dugats that followed. Claude’s father, Maurice, bought the Grange des Dimes in 1955, a historic landmark in Gevrey, and changed the name to the Cellier (Cellar) des Dimes. This ancient barn-turned-winery, built in the 13th century on Gallo-Roman ruins, had once stored tithes of grapes and grains being given to the Church. In focusing on the preservation of the family terroirs at every step of the process from grape to glass, he has since been able to achieve powerful yet elegant Pinot Noirs and earn himself a worldwide reputation for excellence.
Today, the domaine is still a family operation. Claude currently vinifes 6 hectares with the help of his wife, Marie-Thérèse, and his three children, Laetitia, Bertrand, and Jeanne. In both the vineyards and the cellar, the governing principle is the protection and preservation of the terroir—a cliché, perhaps, in a region like Burgundy, where the notion of terroir is so deeply ingrained in the culture, however the Dugats put their beliefs into action. They farm some of the region’s oldest vines, some of them 70 years old, throughout the vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin. In Gevrey, they farm a Bourgogne Rouge, a Gevrey-Chambertin village, two premier crus (including Lavaux Saint Jacques), and three grand crus (Charmes Chambertin, Chapelle Chambertin and Griottes Chambertin). They own 3 ha in Gevrey-Chambertin, or approximately 18 plots throughout the appellation. Some of the most important lieux-dits within Gevrey where they have vineyards are: La Marie, Les Marchais, Puits de la Baraque, Aux Etelois, Champ Francs, and Clos Prieur-Bas. The Bourgogne is sourced from 1.5 ha in the Gevrey appellation as well, though not classified as such.
The Domaine is deeply entrenched in traditional methods-they even work some of their parcels with horse and plow to prevent erosion. To achieve a profound expression of these soils, the Dugats believe in heavy pruning to achieve low yields of 18 hectoliters per hectare, less than half the average in the appellation. While they have the same number of grape clusters per vine as many of their neighbors, their low yields produce smaller berries, which concentrate the flavors of the grapes. They further strain the vines by only applying natural fertilizers every four years. All of their grapes are harvested by hand.
In their historic and beautiful cellar, the Dugats focus on the preservation of terroir through simple vinifications. The grapes are de-stemmed, pressed, and allowed to decant slowly over two days before fermentation begins. Fermentation in concrete lasts for about two weeks on native yeast, during which time the must undergoes two daily punch-downs to extract the fruit as gently as possible. The wine is then racked into Burgundian barrels crafted by François Frères, where they age for 12 to 18 months. The Bourgogne Rouge ages for 14 months in one-year old barrels, the Gevrey-Chambertin village ages 50 percent new barrels and 50 percent one-year old barrels, and the premier crus and grand crus are aged in 100 percent new oak for 16-18 months. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. The finished wines display power and intensity with an ethereal grace.