ichel Digioia has been running Domaine Digioia-Royer in Chambolle-Musigny since 1999. In 2003 he decided to give it a go and bottle all of his wine himself. Now the clients are lining up and most of his premier crus are sold two years in advance.
– This domaine was created in the early 1930's by my wife's grandfather, Michel Digioia explains as he is sitting in his cellar in the middle of Chambolle-Musigny. In a way that was the beginning of the era of the grand vins. People were starting to bottle a little bit themselves.
Chambolle-Musigny is one of the most well known villages on the Cote de Nuits, the northern half of the Côte d'Or, but also one of the smallest. It is for instance less than half the size of Gevrey-Chambertin and the surrounding vines leaves little space for expansion.
You will find the cellars of Domaine Digioia-Royer right in the middle of the village, up on the tiny Rue du Carré. Michel Digioia is the third generation at the domaine. His mother in law joined her father in 1982 and then took charge of the domaine four years later.
– At the time the domaine was 2.5 ha and they bottled 15–20 percent themselves, says Michel Digioia. Slowly she acquired more and more vines. Today I have four hectares and I bottle 100 per cent. She didn't export and now I export 60 percent of the wine.
– She didn't have anyone to succeed her, so in 1999 she asked me if I would like to take over.
Domaine Digioia-Royer has a strong focus on Chambolle-Musigny; all the village and premier cru wines are from the village. The Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes comes from 80-year-old vines in Les Fremieres and is a lovely wine. Lower down the scale the Bourgogne Passetoutgrain is also highly recommendable. Instead of the usual proportions with one third pinot noir and two thirds gamay this one has equal amounts of both grape varieties.
– When the interest for my wines started to grow I decided to save all the 2003's for bottling myself. I didn't sell anything en vrac or to the négociants. And since then I bottle everything myself. 2004 was a difficult vintage commercially, but since it was difficult to sell to the negociants as well I decided to continue bottling myself. Now with the 2005's I have sold almost everything.
Today the biggest export market for Domaine Digioia-Royer is the UK, but bottles also find their way to the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Denmark and Brazil.
When it comes to international competition Michel Digioia has different experiences depending on which of his wines you are talking about. Asked if he has noticed the competition from other wine producing countries he will tell you – yes and no.
– I would say no when it comes to the appellation of Chambolle. There is no Chambolle in Australia or California. But I notice the competition more when it comes to the regional wines like the chardonnay or the Bourgognes, because people are very conscious about the quality/price ratio in that segment. A person at the supermarket that have an Australian wine, an Italian wine and a Bourgogne is likely to choose one of the first two because they are good for that price. A Bourgogne is always a bit more expensive.
He feels that the regional appellations have been badly treated for a long time. Already the previous generation in Burgundy focused much more on the well-known appellations than on the lesser ones. The result of this could very well be that appellations such as Bourgogne Passetoutgrain and Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire disappear.
Despite this Michel Digioia thinks that Burgundy as a region is on the right track. The development in recent years with a focus on higher quality is very promising.
– At the time of my grandparents it was different. They didn't pay as much attention to quality; they were more interested in quantity. The young generation is going in the right direction. The winemakers of today have understood that we have to produce wine of high quality.
During his years at the domaine Michel Digioia has changed a lot of things. While his father in law used a lot of chemicals for weed control Michel Digioia works the soil often, using mechanical weed control.
– Of course, back then they didn't know of anything else. Today we are much more conscious about the environment. When I arrived at the domaine I quickly turned to lutte raisonnée. I don't use chemical treatments systematically.
Even by Burgundian standards Domaine Digioia-Royer is considered being a small domaine. The average domaine is around six or seven hectares. Half of Michel Digioia's production is from regional appellation. The other half is either Chambolle-Musigny village or Chambolle-Musigny premier cru.
– I would like to expand with more land on village or premier cru level... or grand cru if possible. I would like to have some more Chambolle-Musigny, because it's a very sought after appellation. But also Vosne-Romanée or Gevrey-Chambertin. Another hectare or two would be good.
– But I don't want to expand too much. I want to work in the vineyards and in the cellar. I don't want to end up in an office, having others work for me. I want to stay close to the raw material as well as the finished wine. I want to be close to all the quality aspects. I think that if you are out in the fields working it pays off.
© 2007 Ola Bergman