Saturday, June 14, 2014

An Afternoon at Maison Lou Dumont

On a visit to Maison Lou Dumont last fall, I found Koji Nakada and his wife Jae Hwa Park along with their two children very much at home in Gevrey-Chambertin. Koji came from Japan and Jae Hwa from Korea. They met in Burgundy and started their negociant company in 2000. The very first wine they made was a 2000 Nuits-St.-Georges Vieilles Vignes.

Today at their own house and cellar in Gevrey they produce wines from over a dozen different appellations with fruit purchased from well-chosen vineyards with vines averaging 30 to 40 years-old.

In 2012 they were able to purchase a walled vineyard under a hectare in size adjacent to their house no more than 50 feet from a new swimming pool Koji is digging. This first estate vineyard is a lieu-dit named Les Crainelles. It was planted earlier in the year with Pinot Noir and is being farmed organically. Koji expects to make about two barrels of villages Gevrey when the vines mature.

Koji's son (I can't remember his name!) is a delightful kid. He just got back from school soon after I arrived and started to play around us with a football and anything he can grab. Would he develop an interest in wine so he can help Dad and Mom? Koji's not sure but I think he hopes.

The family's backyard swimming pool between the house and the home vineyard was more than halfway finished. I'm sure it's fully operational by now.

The Nakada's house and office and cellar for Maison Lou Dumont was formerly the address of Domaine Fourrier. Not long after Jean-Marie Fourrier took over the domaine from his father, Jean-Claude, he needed more space and eventually sold the house.

It looks like Jae Hwa and Koji have kept the house in good shape. Jae Hwa loves to garden and she has added an Asian touch, planting bamboos and laying a rock garden outside the cellar entrance.

I was glad to be accompanied by my good friend Kei, a Kyoto-native and a brilliant toji for a small sake brewery in Shiga. He was in Burgundy to host a tasting of his sake, mainly for Burgundy winemakers.

After tasting the 2012s, which just just finished malo, from barrel, we headed to the office where Koji opened a bottle of his precious 2010 Bonnes Mares as a treat.

Maison Lou Dumont wines speak of Koji Nakada's traditional approach and minimum intervention. He doesn't overwork the wines, doing minimal pump overs and little punch downs. He vinifies with natural yeasts and adds low doses of sulfites during vinification and a little at bottling--no more than 30 grams/liter for reds and 50-60 grams/liter for whites. He strives for aromatic complexity and fine tannins and above all expressiveness of fruit.

Before I left, Koji handed me a souvenir, their wedding favor, which was a cork puller made by a friend from the barrel of the first vintage he and Jae Hwa made.

On the label of Maison Lou Dumont wines are the Kanji characters for sky, earth, and man. These are the elements that make wine possible.

Note: Maison Lou Dumont wines are not always available, but Vineyard Gate always tries to stock a few. Check the website for availability.

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