The quality of David Duband’s wines has steadily advanced since he took over his family’s domaine in 1991. In 1999 he began the move away from conventional farming and became completely certified organic in 2006. In 2005, his friend and business partner, François Feuillet, managed to buy vineyards from Jacky Truchot, which included privileged old-vine parcels in the Grand Crus, Clos de la Roche and Charmes-Chambertin. Things have gone David’s way, but he’s not at all become complacent.
Sometimes it’s not big fundamental changes that set the world on fire, it’s steadfast evolution, one small step at a time from year to year to year. David’s 2008 vintage marked a significant shift in direction and the year was as good as any to make the move. (2008 Red Burgundy is often misunderstood because of how late it was on every front, from the harvest date to the malolactic fermentations finishing, followed by a misread from most of the critics—who a year later revised what they had written from the year before when many of the wines were tasted next to the outstanding 2009s). There was a light in his wines that seemed to turn on and many took notice. David would likely attribute it to his newly found interest in including stems, and a more gentle approach in the cellar.
We began to work with David’s 2009s after tasting his 2008s, and each year since the wines continue to shed unnecessary elements, such as extraction and body. The minuscule details between two vineyards can sometimes be only five to six more centimeters of topsoil before the bedrock, a little less clay and more rock, or a slight change in aspect. These characteristics, while seemingly small differences, can now be felt earlier on in his wines while they are still fresh, vibrant and primary. They’re now sensitive and precise, and attempt to articulate a more intimate engagement with their terroir.
To fully appreciate the range of David’s wines today, one must be able to read between the lines. I’ve heard it said that with his approach, the wines are not so different from each other, but it is true that the differences from one parcel to the next often exist within the realm of subtlety, not always the obvious—especially in Burgundy, where there are far more similarities in soil and sun exposure than differences between vineyards or appellations.
While some growers work each terroir differently in the cellar, there are others who craft their range using the same vinification, aging and overall approach for their Bourgogne wines all the way up to their Grand Crus—save a few minor adjustments, like stem quantities, oak, etc.
This kind of observation and focus on fewer elements of a particular subject is similar to how artists study the ways that lighting and atmospheric conditions can change so much of a composition but not the subject itself. Take Monet’s Waterloo Bridge series of more than forty compositions, and Rouen Cathedral, with more than thirty, both rendered from the same respective vantage points. Painters use canvas and paint, Duband uses limestone, clay and Pinot Noir. His wines are transparent enough to demonstrate the slightest differences in shade and contour of each terroir to further reveal its uniquely nuanced origin.
**All the details of David’s winemaking approach and each wine are covered on each product page. -TV
Lay of the Land
Most wine Francophiles are familiar with Burgundy. It’s divided into a few major areas, starting from Chablis in the north, the Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and finally Beaujolais to the south, just above France’s second largest city, Lyon. The grapes are principally Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on Jurassic limestone bedrock (pretty much everything between Chablis to the Mâconnais), and Beaujolais’ red grape, Gamay, where the soils are largely granite and metamporphic bedrock from the ancient rock formations in France’s Massif Central.
Duband’s vineyards are all located in the Côte d’Or’s northern sub-zone, the Côte de Nuits—almost exclusively Pinot Noir country. He maintains a stellar collection of entry-level wines, village wines from all the major communes from Gevrey-Chambertin to Nuits-Saint-Georges, and 1er Crus in Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-Saint-Denis and Nuits-Saint-Georges. For Grand Crus, he’s got six, with the famed Chambertin the flagship—not bad.
There’s so much written about Burgundy, with special attention to the Côte d’Or, that it seems redundant to have yet another lengthy explanation of the big picture, and futile to get caught up in all the specifics for every given wine. It’s the regions that are not excessively or even hardly written about where I will make the effort to bring forth details that are difficult to find on the Internet.
That being said, for information on Burgundy, I suggest exploring the many thorough accounts by authors like Jasper Morris, Remington Norman and Clive Coates. Plus, there’s an immense amount of coverage from critics who uproot tons of new and interesting details with each new publication—some notables are Burghound, A View from the Cellar and Vinous. Also, one shouldn’t miss out on Becky Wasserman’s website www.beckywasserman.com for a lot of great content and the website www.bourgogne-wines.com where a good collection of videos and free downloadable vineyard maps are available, along with general overview content for each area.
Within each of David’s product pages on our website are details of each of terroir (or climat, if you prefer) and how they are crafted in the cellar. You’ll find information there not included in the aforementioned Burgundy bibles, as well as a few recordings on some of the products, so you can plug in and geek out while you’re on the road. -TV
David Duband - 2013 Clos de Vougeot
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