The organic wine produced by the Dugat-Py estate in Burgundy is only produced in limited quantities to ensure excellence
When Marie Dugat-Py’s four-year-old son picks his first little bunch of pinot noir grapes from his parents’ vines, he is already starting to learn that winemaking is far from being an ordinary job. “In our family,” says Marie, “it is a passion, a vocation, that has already been passed through 13 generations.”
Marie’s husband Loïc was born on the Dugat-Py estate in the Gevrey-Chambertin region of Burgundy, one of France’s most iconic wine-producing areas. There, he learned everything about growing and producing wine of astonishing quality, using techniques that have been handed down from father to son since the 17th century. From the age of four Loïc was also already on the ground with his parents. “We do try to inculcate a love of nature, a love of vines and the work from a young age,” says Marie.
Indeed, a love of nature and a thirst for excellent work are two notions that Domaine Dugat-Py achieves. It produces concentrated wines with character and soul. They are perfect for ageing up to 20 or 30 years.
The estate was certified organic in 2003, and production methods are as traditional as possible. Some plots are even tended by horse-drawn plough rather than tractor. Harvesting the grapes is carried out by hand only and no intermediaries are used in the production of the wine. From the moment grapes appear on a vine until the wine is bottled, it remains on the estate.
“Producing wine organically and using biodynamic farming methods is a big source of pride for us,” says Marie. “It takes a huge amount of work but it produces extreme quality. We do not use chemical products, so the soil is more alive than with industrially produced non-organic wines. That quality of the soil shows in the wines. When you couple that with the impressive age of the vines – the average age of the vines is 65 years – it produces something very special and exclusive.”
Yields are limited on the Dugat-Py Domaine, but this is a choice so as to ensure quality and exclusivity. Around 80 per cent of the wine is exported to 40 different counties, with customers in the US, Britain, Japan and China who love the deep, rich flavours it offers. Around 10 per cent goes to top hotels and there are some selected private customers who prefer to make an annual pilgrimage to Dugat-Py every year to buy their wine in person. Guests are welcomed with a tour of the vines and tasting.
They also visit its historic wine cellars which are among the oldest in Burgundy. A mixture of impressive gothic vaulting and a touch of Byzantine architecture, the cellars are located under an 11th century abbey (or “aumônerie”) where monks first produced wine. The debt that the Dugat-Py owe to these monks for working the ground is honoured in a specially produced “Cuvée Halinard” wine, named after the abbot who oversaw the construction of the abbey.
Clearly, all this history and know-how have combined to produce some special appellations, each of which is unique and different from the other. “We have wines that give something, they have energy and soul,” says Marie. Something that generations of the Dugat-Py family have passed down to each other.