Domaine Henri Prudhon
This domaine was established by Henri Prudhon who was born and raised as a vigneron in the village of Saint-Aubin since his birth in 1921. He and his wife, Marguerite, combined forces upon their marriage in 1945, putting their small vineyard holdings together to form the Domaine Henri Prudhon. Monsieur Prudhon was a force in his village, serving for many years as the Mayor of this lovely hamlet set just to the west of Puligny and Chassagne along Route Nationale 6. Their son, Gerard, born in 1949, joined the family enterprise and it was Gerard who decided, in the early years of the 1980s, to begin bottling the wines of the estate rather than selling off the fruits of their labors to the local negociants. Gerard, too, maintains the family’s interest in the affairs of the village, being elected multiple times Mayor of Saint Aubin. Gerard’s two sons, Vincent and Philippe, have now taken over the direction of the domaine, working under the watchful eye of Gerard who has instilled in his children the deep respect for the finest of Burgundian traditions.
The Prudhon family vineyard holdings in Saint Aubin are significant and, as a result, working with virtually the entire range of their wines enables one to develop a profound understanding of the tantalizing terroir of Saint Aubin. Gerard Prudhon wisely undertook an expansion of the domaine’s holdings early in his career, acquiring terrific parcels in the neighboring village of Chassagne-Montrachet. In total, the domain encompasses 14.5 hectares of vineyards and produces on the order of 90,000 bottles of wine annually, eighty-five percent of which is exported outside of France. The vineyards are managed with the objective of intervening as little as possible in the natural vegetative cycle. The vines are planted to a density of 10,000 per hectare; the Chardonnay is pruned in the Guyot fashion and the Pinot Noir follows the Cordon de Royat method. Harvest is manual and the objective of the domaine is to collect grapes when they achieve a balance, as perfect as possible, between sugar and acidity. At harvest, the white grapes are pressed in a pneumatic press and then are racked into barrel to undergo both fermentations: alcoholic and malolactic. The cellars at the Prudhon domaine are quite cool and the fermentations usually extend for a long period of time. The reds are destemmed and experience a cold maceration of just a day or two; then, the alcoholic fermentation proceeds for an additional ten to twelve days with pigeage and remontage occurring throughout, although the Prudhons purposely do not seek to achieve a “super-extraction” preferring to express the finesse and complexity of their particular terroir. Very little new oak is used when aging the red wines; the percentage of new oak on the white wines depends on the particular cuvée with specific reference to the structure of the wine and the quantity produced; as little as 10% new oak may be used but no more than one-third is ever utilized.
Vintage Notes from Burghound.com (6/2013)
“Vincent Prudhon calls 2011 a ‘precocious vintage that both began and ended early. The beginning and the end of the vintage were great but the middle, well, not so much as July and the first half of August were pretty mediocre. Given that the conditions were highly conducive to having plenty of rot, we were quite fortunate to have had very little, especially in Pinot where clean fruit is absolutely critical. We began picking on the 30th of August and had almost no sorting in either color. Sugars were fine in Chardonnay at between 12 and 13% but they were about half a degree lower for the Pinot. We did our normal vinification as the fruit was phenolically ripe. Overall, 2011 is a lovely vintage where the wines will be like the growing season, which is to say precocious.’”