Domaine Jean Grivot is one of Burgundy's greatest small family estates, and their story is a classic Burgundy family story. They were one of the first families in Vosne Romanee to bottle and sell their own wine, beginning in the 1930's. The estate has been run by fifth-generation vigneron Etienne Grivot since 1987 with his wife Marielle.
The domaine is an impressive 15ha in total, but in classic 'small is beautiful' Burgundian fashion it takes little bits of 22 different appellations to cobble that together. Of course It is a sublime collection of little bits, including 6 premier crus in Vosne Romanee (les Chaumes, les Rouges, Aux Brulees, les Beaumonts, Aux Reignots, and les Suchots) as well as parcels in Chambolle-Musigny la Combe d'Orveau, Clos Vougeot, Echezeaux and Richebourg. Average vine age is 45-50 years.
When he first took over from his father, Etienne wanted to produce wines with more concentration, wines more like the great 29's and 37's still in the Grivot cellar. Tasting with friends Dominique Lafon and Christophe Roumier, he realized that over-fertilization had destroyed Burgundy's soil by the 60's and 70's, and that the wines were hollow because the soil was dead.
Since then Etienne Grivot's life work has been to understand the connection between terroir, farming, and winemaking. He farms his densely-planted low yield vineyards organically, ploughing with a horse where possible. Winemaking is very traditional: destemmed grapes are gently punched down and fermentation is allowed to start naturally, after which there is one pumping over per day but no further pigeage. When fermentation is finished the wines go into barrel.
For Etienne winegrowing is about constantly seeking improvement. "One is never satisfied. This is an obsession: to improve. And I don't think I will ever give up". It is not surprising that he has a deep commitment to the spiritual aspect of wine. He says that when he turned 40, he began to make more generous wines. "It was I who had changed; I was more mature, more relaxed. The wines became more serene and supple, without compromising their freshness and potential to age, because I was more at ease". He also explains that he is opposed to pigeage (punching down) after fermentation 'because I don't like mixing the physical (pigeage) and the spiritual (fermentation).
These are classic wines that are quintessentially Burgundian - seductive, serious, and soulful.