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Domaine Dominique Gallois

Dominique Gallois is a softly-spoken, dry-witted and thoughtful vigneron who took over the family vineyards from his father in 1989, when he instituted the production and marketing of domaine wines – essentially creating his eponymous domaine – rather than continuing to sell wine in bulk to various negociants.  The domaine is barely four hectares of vines, comprised of around half a hectare of Bourgogne rouge (located in Fixin); 11 parcels of Gevrey-Chambertin villages totaling 2.2 hectares; three Gevrey-Chambertin premiers crus (Goulots, Combe Aux Moins and Petits Cazetiers) of one hectare in total; and a single grand crus, Charmes-Chambertin, which is 0.3 hectare in size.dominique-gallois.jpg

The Gallois cellars, constructed by Dominique’s great grandfather in 1901, are reputed to be some of the coldest in the region – and I can attest they were certainly pretty cold during my visit in April!  This is important, as it allows for long, slow fermentations that give the wines their depth, and importantly, longevity.

In the vineyards, Dominique is very conservative, and whilst he does not describe himself as farming organically, biodynamically or otherwise – lutte raisonnée is his term, essentially meaning minimal intervention – he certainly meets organic requirements.  No herbicides or pesticides are used, and even the ubiquitous spraying of copper and sulphur (which virtually every vigneron the world over employs, generally weekly to fortnightly throughout the growing season) is kept to an absolute minimum – perhaps six or seven sprays throughout the year.

gallois-vines.jpgNotably, during the 1970s, when most vineyards – even some of the most famous – were subjected to excessive application of fertilisers, causing problems years later (some persist to this day) of low acidities in the wines, this never occurred in Gallois’ vineyards.  Admittedly this through good fortune rather than planning, as Dominique’s father had some health issues at the time and wasn’t able to apply fertilizer in his vineyards – yet it’s a positive in the wines today!

Winemaking is relatively straightforward, the fruit is sorted both in the vineyards at harvest and again upon arrival at the winery.  The fruit is usually 100% de-stemmed, although in certain years (high quality, ripe vintages) up to 10% of the stems may be retained in the premiers and grand cru.  Dominique allows about four days cold soak, or pre-fermentation maceration, allowing the fermentation to commence naturally without the addition of any yeasts.  Fermentation takes place in large stainless steel vats over 12-14 days, with manual pigeage preferred to the more common remontage.  This extracts a little more tannin, providing greater structure for extended ageing.  Oak use is judicial – the premiers crus see about 40% new and the grand cru 80% new, avoiding overt toastiness.

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