Only a handful of Estates were known on major marketpaces since before the Second World War. The real proliferation of the Estate-bottled phenomenon gained momentum in the mid '70's and 80's. Booms and slumps encouraged growers to strike out and bottle their own wine. Through direct contact with ever more sophisticated international and national markets they established regular demand for their wines and ensured price stability.
I established Vins Divins in 1990. In the early part of that decade the Gulf War and a recession in the West once again sank the market for luxury wines; bulk prices were at a nadir. This created new marketing opportunities for the contemporary generation of young, enthusiastic vignerons who hitherto had no other outlet for their wares. Vins Divins was able to mount the rising tide of enthousiasm for Domaine-bottlings which had been gathering momentum for some time.
12 years later, we have a portfolio of 30 about Domaines. The vast majority of them are husband-and-wife teams dedicated to their vines and wines: in the vines they are pruning, hand ploughing, and controlling yields by rubbing out double buds and trimming. The same attention and care are deployed in the cellar to ensure the wines are nurtured and bottled at the right time and in the appropriate way. Since every vintage is different, there can be no failsafe recipe for producing fine Burgundy.
Judging young Burgundy - especially the Pinot Noir - is a thankless task . The wines are inordinately fickle and fidgety during the first few months in cask. Having a compact number of suppliers means we can taste the wines every 15 days on average. We compare the same cask of the same wine as it evolves over time; we compare different casks of the same wine from new barrels and older barrels, as they all have a bearing on the finished wine. Tasting young Burgundy once in January or February - in the immortal words of one of our principal suppliers is like attending a fashion show for unfinished clothes. I liken it to only being able to see one pixel of a computer screen: it does not give the overall picture.
In greater Burgundy there are 10,000 growers sharing 100,000 acres and 100 or so appellations . We do not claim to know all of them, but we maintain a constant and intimate working relationship with 30 of them. We are utterly convinced of their quality and their devotion to making the best possible wines they can. What more can you ask of your partners ?
Beaune , August 2002