A trip to France is not complete without a food and wine experience. I don’t just mean a lunch or dinner at a village or Parisian cafe, bistro or brasserie, enjoying local cuisine and wine. While that is a large part of the equation, I wanted to meet and learn more about the winemakers and their passion to create the bottles of juice the world has on their tables.
So in June I traveled to Burgundy, France, for a week and spent three days wine tasting, talking with vignerons and wine merchants. I decided to hire Burgundy Discovery’s Robert and Joy Pygott to reacquaint me with the area. My visit five years ago gave me a wonderful overview to the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, but I wanted the perspective of someone who lived in the region to reeducate me with the Burgundian appellations and regions.
During my 2007 visit to Burgundy, my wife and I met Ulrich Dujardin at Domain Bouzerand-Dujardin. This winemaker exuded excitement and passion for his craft and I was moved by his story. He was not a local landowner nor did his family’s history include winemaking. But Ulrich’s enthusiasm and vision for the craft sparked a cord within me. I wanted to meet Ulrich again and learn more about the outsider who became a winemaker in the tiny village of Monthelie, 5 km or 3.5 miles from Beaune.
This year’s visit included an hour presentation of Domain Dujardin’s winemaking process from beginning to end, including Ulrich’s personal attention to an all hand-harvest and natural wine process. But as he spoke about his passion for winemaking, I heard something I did not catch when I spent an hour with him in 2007. Ulrich’s passionate presentation invigorated me because he obviously cared about the process. But I almost missed his side comments on how he hires disabled or handicapped people to help him in the vineyards. And when I checked on his family heritage, it did not include winemaking.
How did an outsider become a winemaker in a region which favors tradition and heritage over the new and upstart?
My first Burgundian TalesoftheCork will post tomorrow. I want to introduce Domain Dujardin and its owner: Ulrich Dujardin. Please return to read “Outsider impacts Burgundy winemaking tradition, Part I.”