In the Côte de Beaune region of Burgundy, Domaine Philippe et Arnaud Dubreuil is a relatively ‘young’ family estate that has been producing critically acclaimed wines for more than 7 decades. Arnaud Dubreuil represents the 3rd generation now overseeing operations, but it almost didn’t end up that way.
Despite his father and grandfather being winemakers, it was never Arnaud’s plan to follow in their footsteps. His passion was plants, and he initially started down his path of studies with the aim to becoming a horticulturalist. But that path still led to his inevitable destiny in becoming a winemaker.
Arnaud explained to us that in Beaune when you study vegetation, part of the curriculum includes the studying of vineyard plants and agricultural plantations which landed him at the local wine school for that part of the program.
“That was my first foot into the wine world and that’s the foot that I followed. I have now worked with my father for 22 years.”
Arnaud’s grandfather Paul Dubreuil founded the family business in the late 1940s under the name Dubreuil-Cordier and Paul’s son Philippe (Arnaud’s father) had established his own estate which was in the village. Paul died suddenly in 1989 and, as a result, the 2 estates totalling 10 hectares were merged and renamed Domaine Philippe Dubreuil-Cordier.
Arnaud joined the family business in 2000 and a decade later he took over operations and the Domaine is now known as Philippe et Arnaud Dubreuil.
Since 2010, the Domaine acquired another 2.5 hectares that includes half a hectare of Hautes Côtes de Beaune white, half a hectare of Hautes Côtes de Beaune red, along with Corton grand cru Les Grandes Lolières.
“From our 12.5 hectares, we are in Savigny-lès-Beaune…and 6 first (Premier) Cru in Savigny. In Savigny you have 22 different first crus in the village. For me, I produce 6 different [premier crus]…and Aloxe-Corton first cru, and I have a grand cru…in Corton, not Charlamagne, only Corton. It’s so little in the Corton appellation, you have only 5% of Corton white in the area of red Corton.”
There are two main buildings on the property. One is a beautiful chateau covered in vines and the other is the working winery complete with a traditional wooden press they still use today. As we stepped inside the main chateau, Arnaud grabbed a basket of wine glasses and led us downstairs into the cellar. As we wound around the stacked barrels of ageing wine, he found a cozy corner and set up our glasses for a tasting.
As we sipped through his lineup of wines, he told us about the winemaking at Dubreuil.
As with most traditional wineries in Burgundy, his philosophy is very low intervention and gentle when it comes to winemaking. All the fruit is hand harvested and hand sorted. Depending on the vintage, he may or may not do whole cluster fermentation for the reds which he said he prefers for more complexity and higher ageing potential.
Fermentation lasts approximately 2 weeks and once the fermentation is complete, “the tank is drawn and put on one of our vertical presses to finish extraction. After 24 hours, once everything settles, the must is poured into barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation.” The reds are aged a minimum 8 months and a maximum 14 months, depending on both the vintage and the vineyard appellation.
For the white, the fruit is pressed as soon as it is brought to the winery and put into vats.
The juice is cooled to 10 degrees Celsius and racked after 24 hours. “Fermentation usually starts naturally after a day or two. We ferment in the vats…and at the end of the alcoholic fermentation the musts are lowered in barrels to finish.” Arnaud tells us the process can take up to 2 months with constant monitoring. Malolactic fermentation also happens naturally, and the ageing will also range between 8-14 months.
From harvest to bottling everything is done by them and a very small team. The results of the effort are obvious from the first wine we tasted to the last, and this winery is definitely worthy of being considered an absolute gem in Burgundy
What strikes us most about Arnaud is the genuine humility he possesses. As storied a wine region as Burgundy is, the star is the region not the winemaker and that was evident with every winemaker we were lucky enough to meet on this trip. The reverence for the terroir, along with the history and the lessons learned before them are deeply respected. And while it wasn’t Arnaud’s original idea to become a winemaker, the Dubreuil family, wine lovers, and the region of Burgundy, are all benefitting because he ended up meeting his destiny after all.
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