Maison Joseph Drouhin   Musigny

2012 Musigny

By Maison Joseph Drouhin

2012 Musigny from Maison Joseph Drouhin, Burgundy

Diving into the providentially balanced climes of 2012, the Musigny from Maison Joseph Drouhin stands as a breathtaking embodiment of Burgundian prowess, marked by a season that sculpted its grapevines with both challenge and charm. The unruly spring, countered by a rejuvenating summer, bestowed upon the region a vintage of resilience and character, intricately woven into the fabric of this remarkable Pinot Noir.


A Vintage to Remember: 2012 Musigny's Narrative in a Bottle

The singularity of the 2012 Musigny lies not just in the adept hands of its makers but equally in the narrative that the season imprinted on its vines. The cool, wet days that initially beset Burgundy gave way to a stunning turnaround come July, launching the vital ripening period under auspicious skies. These meticulous shifts from the heavens crafted a vintage with an alluring dichotomy of tension and elegance—a testament to the adaptive craftsmanship at Maison Joseph Drouhin.


Embracing Patience: The Wine Investors' Perspective

For wise investors seeking to enrich their collections with a standout vintage, patience wields virtue with the 2012 Musigny. This wine, nearing a decade in repose, has been vigilantly cellared, allowing it to unfurl the tapestry of its youthful promise into an opus of complexity. True to form, this Musigny captures that unique moment in Burgundian winemaking where time's passage aligns celestial gifts with terrestrial artistry—the makings of an investable gem.

As one navigates through the layered symphony of flavours—dark forest berries kissed with aromatic herbs, touches of seductive spice—the tannins reveal themselves as polished and fine-grained, akin to velvet drapes parting stage left on a grand act now perfectly matured. Even within its stillness, there is vibrancy; an enduring echo of 2012's climatic ballet.

In conclusion, the 2012 Musigny from Maison Joseph Drouhin offers discerning collectors a well-timed opportunity. Here lies an investment piece eloquent enough for immediate enjoyment yet sage for further cellaring—a true hallmark of Burgundy's climatic alchemy and vinous excellence.

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The 2012 Musigny Grand Cru includes vines planted between 1971 and 1982 that are usually picked at the same time. This was one of the few cuvees that began fermenting after just 48 hours and finished within five days, ditto the malo-lactic that was completed relatively quickly compared to Drouhin’s other crus. It has a very sophisticated bouquet with an ethereal sense of delineation and focus (actually reminiscent of a fine Romanee-St.-Vivant.) The palate is silky smooth on the entry with velvet-textured red fruit that is enveloped in creamy, new oak that does not impinge upon the typicity of Musigny. Maybe it just dips before the finish line, but otherwise this is a consummate Musigny. The matriarch of Maison Joseph Drouhin, Veronique Drouhin, escorted a group of writers and scribes through her 2012s in London, except for the Grands Echezeaux that happened to not be showing well. Hers were the only 2012s tasted outside Burgundy for this report, in respect of the miniscule quantities. Less for us critics: more for punters, even if it is a drop. The omnipresent story of depleted crops was the same here. In fact, 2012 is their smallest vintage for 50 years. “Everything that you think could happen, did happen,” rued Veronique in her fluent English. “We had frost, hail, storms and even sunburn.” There was some redemption though, a vital one too. “The only thing we did not get was botrytis and so the fruit was healthy. There had been a poor fruit set and a lot of coulure and millerandage. This meant the berries were small and not clustered close together, allowing good air flow between the berries and therefore inhibiting grey rot.” However, the unpredictable growing season proved challenging in the vineyard. “We are 100% organic, so we had to go over and over in the vines. We had to use natural responses to natural problems.” The 2012 vintage also demanded prudent approaches in the winery that could enhance the wines. “One of the most surprising things we found was that it took five to seven days for the fermentation to start. During this period you could extract some interesting things (color, polyphenols etc). Also, we found that the fruit had a long post-fermentation period of up to two weeks, which also benefited the complexity of the fruit. We also had a different approach to the vin de press. When we pressed the white grapes, we separated the end pressings. Using whole clusters means that the stems tend to increase the pH and the acidity goes much lower, which can dilute the cuvee. We had to separate the vin de presse and work each one differently. But in 2012 we did not include much of the vin de presse.” The vinification of such a small quantities springs its own set of problems; after all, you cannot fill all your barrels with marbles to keep them topped up. Fortunately, there was plenty of time to prepare because the February frost had burnt the buds. Poor flowering and fruit set early in the growing season meant that there was plenty of time to place orders for appropriately-sized barrels. “We used 500-liter barrels, which were very useful and similarly sized stainless tell vessels for the wines,” Veronique explained. “We hired a person who specializes in bottling small quantities. Jerome likes them (500-liter barrels) very much. They do not extract much, but they can make very elegant wines.” Perhaps one silver lining is that it has given producers such as Drouhin experience of using alternatively sized vessels that may be used in the future when vintages are more bountiful. At the end of the day, Drouhin have overseen another impressive set of Burgundy wines. While they do not possess the structure of the 2010s, the acidity levels are not dissimilar, although they seem to have more sweetness on the finishes. I concur with Veronique that two appellations that prospered in this vintage are Chassagne in the Cotes de Beaune and Chambolle in the Cotes de Nuits. In particular, the latter is very strong chez Drouhin in 2012, right down to the village cru. She also opined that Rully exceeded expectations, perhaps because the vines were so affected by hail in 2011 and strove to compensate in the following year. Here both the white and red come highly recommended and will probably represent good value. Prices are expected to rise, possibly 10-15% for the village and premier crus, 20% for the grand crus, although nothing had been set at time of writing. Importer: Dreyfus Ashby & Co., New York, NY; tel. (212) 818-0770 and through several importers in the UK via Pol Roger UK Ltd.

Neal Martin - The Wine Advocate, 29 December 2013

Vintage performance