Domaine Derain are biodynamic producers in Burgundy with vines in a number of different Burgundian appellations.
Dominique Derain started his career making wine barrels but decided, instead, to study winemaking in Beaune. In 1988 he and his wife Catherine purchased 5.5 hectares of vineyards in Saint-Aubin just south of Beaune and began tending the vines biodynamically and making their wines in a non-interventionist way as well.
The Saint-Aubin appellation is one of the hidden secrets of Burgundy because the vineyards border those of the premier crus of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet but do not command anywhere near their price.
A few years ago, Dominique officially retired. His long time assistant Julien Altaber and his partner, Carole Schwab (who also worked for Dominique managing the administration) bought the domaine from him. Julien, in addition to working for Dominique, had started his own domaine (Sextant) some years before, initially making his own wine in Dominique’s cellar, so it was a natural changing of the guard.
You can see the change of ownership in the labels. The older labels reference ‘Catherine & Dominique Derain’ and the new wines are labelled ‘Domaine Derain’. We still have wines from both eras for sale.
However, although no longer an owner, Dominique is still intimately involved in the cellar and vineyard. He may not have the responsibility any more but as a mentor he is still ever-present. We have not had one visit to the cellar since the change of ownership where Dominique has not been there. He maybe waxing (he is still the master) or labelling bottles and he always tastes the Derain wines with us.
For us, it has been a wonderful generational change. Plus thanks to his freedom to travel more, we have the occasional unique cuvée from somewhere else where he has been making wine – last year it was Chile and this year it is the south of France.
The wines are certified biodynamic by Ecocert and have been certified since 1989.
Domaine Derain Las Nubes 2018 (from Chile)
Dominique Derain has been making wine in Burgundy for almost thirty years. He has recently handed over much of the work to Julien Altaber and Carole Schwab from Sextant. This has freed him up to engage in other projects. Through a Parisian friend he met up with a Chilean vigneron called Julio Denoso who asked him if he would be interested in making some of his wines in Chile. Dominique agreed and he travelled to the vineyard in the Casablanca region where the vineyards benefit from proximity to the ocean and also an altitude of 350 metres. The technique Dominique used to vinify the hand-harvested grapes was quite complex involving drawing off some of the juice quite early in the maceration. The juice fermented in steel tanks and was bottled without fining or filtration. The final wine is a very light red that is eminently smashable!
Domaine Derain Vin de France Allez Goutons 2019
The Allez Goutons is a beautiful white wine made from Aligoté, one of our favourite white wine grapes.
This wine is made by Dominique as an early drinking style to be consumed within a couple of years of being made.
If you are a fan of this grape variety then you certainly should give this wine a try. Despite the fact that it is a drink-now style it has incredible complexity and very good length.
It was recently in a tasting at Melbourne’s Blackhearts and Sparrows who described the wine in the following terms:
“Bottled on its lees, it’s a cloudy, savoury wine dominated by notes of tart fruits, salinity, lemon pith and crunchy apple that are framed around chalky minerality and assertive earthiness. The name is pun on the variety from which it’s made. Aligoté being roughly homonymous with ‘allez, goutons’, translating to something like ‘go on, taste’. Once you do, you’ll understand how great it tastes and you too will be grateful a wine made it in such small quantities made it to Australian shores.“
For this vintage we see Dominique handing over the reins to young rising star Julien Altaber, and Julien’s talent can be seen in the quality of the wine. The wine is still sold under the Derain banner, but if you look closely at the fine print you can see that Julien, who runs the Sextant domaine, now has begun to produce this cuvée.
RRP: $57 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine Derain Vin de France Allez Goutons Rouge 2018
We have been fortunate to secure some of the red version of the Allez Goutons again this year.
It is a fresh lively red wine made from the Pinot Noir grape variety and designed for early drinking.
We were delighted when it arrived in Australia fresh as a daisy and ready for immediate drinking.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Domaine Derain Bourgogne Les Riaux Rouge 2018
The Les Riaux is back with a stunning label and even a second name just to confuse everyone! It also now sports the name “Tentation” to reflect the label. This wine is an entry level Bourgogne red with the vines thriving on the Puligny-Montrachet plains quite close to the Aligoté vines.
The grapes are harvested from the tiny Les Riaux vineyard which is close to the village of Saint-Aubin which lies just south of the central city of Beaune.
The yields here are painfully low at only 30 hectolitres per hectare so expect this red to have good fruit flavours and good structure. It also has a bright and cheerful new label this year! Dominique destems most of the grapes with just a few whole bunches thrown in. After pressing, the juice and skins are transferred to large wooden vats for maceration for up to two weeks before the juice is transferred to old oak barrels for six months of maturation.
And by the way, the vineyard is tiny at less than half a hectare!
RRP: $76 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine Derain Saint-Aubin Le Ban Rouge
The Le Ban is one of the best wines from the Derain vineyards! The 2010 reflected the vintage which was not as hot as 2009 but which encouraged slow but steady growth in the vineyard leading to wines with good structure and length. The 2013 was a tough year but the wines that were produced from a smaller harvest were very good. Then again, 2015 was a great vintage!
This wine shows just how good wines can be from the underrated appellation of Saint-Aubin.
The vines here (which were planted in 1920) thrive on an east facing slope covered in limestone derived brown clay and gravel.
This is a lovely wine with an appealing cherry and strawberry fruit flavour, a core of acidity, great freshness, an underlying spiciness and perfect balance. Great drinking now but it is a good idea to pour the wine into a carafe before drinking.
RRP: $86 for 2017
Domaine Derain Mercurey La Plante Chassey Rouge
This is an interesting cuvee because it has a small amount of Pinot Beurot (Malvoisie, Pinot Gris) blended with the dominant Pinot Noir. (Incidentally, Pinot Liébault is also permitted in this appellation).
The Mercurey appellation is increasingly receiving critical acclaim as a number of young winemakers have recognised the attractive nature of the terroir here and are producing wines of considerable elegance.
La Plante Chassey is a south-east slope with clay soil. The grapes for this wine are harvested by hand and the wine is fermented in wooden vats before being transferred to old wooden barrels for 18 months. The wine is not fined or filtered before bottling.
RRP: $114 for 2018
Domaine Derain Pommard Les Petits Noizons Rouge 2011
There is lots of limestone here because it is quite close to one of our favourite villages in Burgundy, namely Pommard!
This village is well known for the intense, structured red wines that benefit from the iron-rich, red soils that surround the village. This is why red wines are particularly favoured here – Pinot Noir has a particular affinity for these soils and therefore the Pommard reds are sought after.
The Les Petits Noizons is one of the best sites in Pommard and therefore the wines are particularly attractive.
The 2011 is a lively, strong, structured deep-red wine showing all the complexity and elegance you would expect from a Pommard!
RRP: SOLD OUT
Domaine Derain Gevrey-Chambertin En Vosne Rouge 2017
Gevrey-Chambertin is well known for the intense, structured red wines produced around this village which lies on the Cote d’Or just south of the city of Dijon.
The vines in this En Vosne vineyard are nearly 90 years old! Therefore there is structure and depth of flavour coming from them.
This is a superb wine of considerable complexity and great elegance. At a number of recent tastings this has been a stand out wine that has charmed all who have tried it. It is a beautiful Burgundy at a very reasonable price for a Gevrey Chambertin.
Note that there are only small quantities of this vintage available due to the poor growing season. The price also reflects the dramatically plunging Australian dollar.
RRP: $166 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine Derain Bourgogne Aligoté 2018
Aligoté is a particular favourite of ours. We love wines made from this grape that is beloved by Burgundians – many of whom consume it daily. The wines range from the rustic to the ethereal. It is unfiltered so the wine can be cloudy in the glass. It is fermented with native yeasts so it is alive and vibrant and completely compelling.
The very old vines for this wine are on the Puligny-Montrachet plains. A lovely wine for summer drinking.
RRP: $59 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine Derain Bourgogne La Combe Blanc 2018
For this year there is a radical new label on the La Combe, with a number of almost impenetrable in-jokes about Derain and his wines. The picture on the left only shows part of the complete wrap-around label.
Don’t worry about the fact that this is a ‘simple’ Bourgogne wine. The vines from which this wine is made have an excellent pedigree.
The vines for this lovely Chardonnay are located close to the village of Puligny-Montrachet where there is deep brown soil which is managed biodynamically. The yield is only 35 hectolitres per hectare and this means the fruit is packed with flavour and the wine reflects this. La Combe is a tiny plot of only .5 hectare (they purchased .2 hectare recently).
This is a wine for contemplating. It opens up slowly in the glass, but then reveals an array of flavours and aromas that are truly compelling. This is a lovely, expressive Chardonnay.
RRP: $79 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine Derain Saint-Aubin Premier Cru Les Murgers des Dents de Chien Blanc 2013
The soil here is very thin and the vines must struggle to gain a foothold among the limestone rocks. But this struggle produces what many claim are the best wines from Saint-Aubin.
The name is made up from two aspects of this vineyard. Murgers are small walls built from the rocks that were removed from the site to plant the vines. And Dents de Chien translates as dog’s teeth which refers to the white (calcareous) triangular rocks found in the vineyard. This beautiful wine is 100% Chardonnay.
RRP: $126 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine Derain Saint-Aubin 1er Cru “En Remilly“
This delicious premier cru Chardonnay is made from vines in the En Remilly lieu dit which lies on the rocky, sunny slopes of Chassagne-Montrachet. The En Remilly climat lies at the southern end of the village of Saint-Aubin and crosses the boundary into Chassagne-Montrachet where it is also a premier cru vineyard with the same exposure and the same rocky limestone soil. This makes these premier cru wines some of the best value in Burgundy. The yield is relatively low at 38 hectolitres per hectare. The wine is both powerful and elegant making it perfect for aging – however it is also drinking nicely now.
The reverse side of the bottle has the label below!
RRP: $131 for 2017 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine Derain Saint-Aubin En Vesvau Blanc 2016
This delicious Chardonnay is made from vines in the En Vesvau lieu dit which lies on the rocky, sunny slopes of Montrachet. The terroir here is perfect for the production of flavoursome white wines for which the area is rightly famous.
The yield is relatively low at 38 hectolitres per hectare. The grapes are picked by hand and placed carefully in small boxes to avoid crushing the fruit. After crushing the juice is left to ferment using the complex natural yeasts that collect on the fruit.
The wine is both powerful and elegant making it perfect for aging – however it is also drinking very nicely now.
Domaine Derain Bourgogne Landré 2018
When you pour a glass of this lovely Chardonnay you will first notice the golden colour with hues of green. But don’t spend too long admiring the colour as it is the mouth-enveloping flavour that will really impress you.
The weight of the wine is not too heavy and there is a lovely streak of acidity which is noticeable but not too dominant. The soil also speaks to you in the glass with pronounced minerality and even saltiness similar to that we find in, say, les Saulniers from Domaine Cadette.
Landré is a newish parcel (lieu dit) of Bourgogne Blanc for the domaine named after the former owner of the plot. At only 0.3 of a hectare, it is adjacent to their Le Riaux Pinot Noir plot. At this size there will never be very much of this wine, but the site ensures that the wine will always be of high quality due to the soils here.
Domaine Derain Saint-Aubin Blanc 2018
The grapes in the Saint-Aubin Blanc were formerly part of the cuvée En Vesvau, but from more gravelly soil, which Julien decided to keep separate. So, the wine is from the Saint-Aubin appellation which is famous for its white wines in particular due to its proximity to Puligny-Montrachet.
RRP: $109 (SOLD OUT)
Tutti Frutti Ananas – Dominique Derain D’rain, D’rain 2018
This year we also have a tiny quantity of a unique wine vinified by Dominique Derain with Tutti Frutti Ananas, itself a collaboration between a group of winemakers based in Banyuls-sur-Mer, and working from Les 9 Caves, one of the most treasured natural wine addresses in the south of France.
Called Dr’ain Dr’ain, it’s a juicy blend, mainly of Grenache with a little Syrah. This is one of the benefits of his retirement.
RRP: $86 (SOLD OUT)