A reliable, knowledgeable merchant is worth his/her weight in hard-to-find wines. Olivier Chopin is proprietor of Cave Le Vigneron in Draguignan, the city in the south of France about 40 kilometres north-east from Saint-Tropez (my house in the village of Lorgues is nearer, about 20 minutes to drive).
I have been a customer of Monsieur Chopin for the last eight years during which time I have made insatiable discoveries. Some wines, he gets allocation of just one or two cases. Their production may not be very big in the first place. Or have to be spread throughout the country, and beyond.
Also, distribution is quite decentralised in France where loyalty to old clients (between winery and retailer and vice versa) is still very much cherished. I hope Monsieur Chopin regard me as a loyal customer too.
Domaine Drouhin-Laroze is based in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin. The family has 8 parcels distributed over 4 hectares of vineyards. Head of the house Philippe Drouhin was born in 1956. After studying oenology at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune, he returned to work at the family estate when just 18 years young. Today, he is joined by his wife Christine and their children Caroline and Nicolas.
Just as I measure the quality of a Champagne house by its Brut, so I regard how good (or mediocre) a domaine is by their village – not Premier or Grand Cru – wine.
Domaine Drouhin-Laroze passes with flying colours. Not just the winemaking but the added fact it is the difficult and trying 2013 vintage (which is also one of the most challenging in Bordeaux).
Although lacking in greater ripeness and succulence (that is Nature at work), the strawberry/raspberry medium-plus-ish fruit is utterly balanced. The tannins are crisp but not edgy nor tart. Needless to say, being 2013, there is lots of freshness. Although aged in barrels, the oak is not new. The wine will continue to evolve and will be even better between 3 and 5 years as the acidity will keep it humming nicely along.
I must revisit Monsieur Chopin as soon as France lifts its lockdown. And Singapore the 14-day Stay Home Notice for returning citizens and residents.