Carel Voorhuis at Maison Camille Giroud, Beaune, Burgundy.
– T

he style here at Maison Camille Giroud was something I really liked. The balanced elegance. So I didn’t change much when I arrived. It’s basically continuity. I think I’m using more whole clusters than David used to and I’m using less sulphur at the winemaking stage.

Carel Voorhuis is in the cellars of Maison Camille Giroud in the backstreets of Beaune. He is the one calling the shots here since 2016. David in this case is David Croix, his predecessor.

– I was lucky to know Maison Camille Giroud well before I came here. David Croix and I were fellow students in Dijon. I used to supply him with some grapes. Over the years we had quite a few tastings here. So I knew his winemaking style and the appellations. Thanks to this I knew Maison Camille Giroud better than any other négociant in Burgundy.

The Corton hill, Burgundy.It was after 14 years at Domaine d’Ardhuy in Corgoloin Carel Voorhuis decided it was time to move on. David Croix went on to create Domaine des Croix.

– Basically, Carel Voorhuis continues, all the reds are now made without any sulphur at the winemaking stage. I do use sulphur during the barrel ageing. I’m totally not into to the vin nature thing. I think that’s a really dangerous game. But when a wine without sulphur remains good I think it can be fantastic. Very often I think those ones have a broader array of aromatics. I think they very often have rounder, softer and riper tannins. In a way more energy.

– To me that is mainly due to the fact there is no sulphur during the winemaking process. Using sulphur for pinot noir in Burgundy leads to harder tannins, more greenness and aromas that are not as open and not as diverse as when you use no sulphur. So whenever I can I use no sulphur.

Beaune premier cru Aux Cras, Burgundy.– As we are all stainless steel we are well equipped for temperature control. We are well equipped for the sorting of the grapes. It’s really quite easy. We make wines with no more volatile than with the use of sulphur. We get wines that are totally dry. It’s legally dry at four grams per litre, or two depending on the wine. We are usually at undetectable or 0.1 gram per litre. That’s all. And that is also much better for the microbiological stability of the wines afterwards.

The story of Maison Camille Giroud goes back to 1865 when Camille Giroud, originally from Switzerland, married Mademoiselle Deschamps and took on the family’s small négociant business, which was re-named Maison Giroud Deschamps.

Saint-Romain, Sous le Château, Burgundy.It wasn’t until 1903 it became Maison Camille Giroud. And it took even longer, until 1993, before they bought their first vineyard – a parcel of Beaune premier cru Aux Cras. It was also around this time they began abandoning buying wine and started buying grapes instead. Later, acquisitions in Beaune premier cru Les Avaux and Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Au Crétot would follow.

– The contracts we have with the growers are only for one year at the time, says Carel Voorhuis. But there are growers we have been for 30 years. Sometimes there are changes. A few years ago I had a contract for Bourgogne pinot noir, regional appellation. I thought the yield was a bit high, which I told the producer to do something about. In the end the necessary changes hadn’t been done. When the first load of grapes arrived we had to remove 10-15 per cent. Grapes were not ripe enough. Quite a lot of botrytis, despite the warm vintage. There were pink, greenish grapes. I stopped the contract immediately.

Beaune premier cru Les Avaux, Burgundy.– On the other hand there was this white Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru I really loved, Tête du Clos. But the domaine was sold, so I lost that contract. Then again, I have gained some new contracts. I have a Morey-Saint-Denis premier cru which I really love. There is Chambolle-Musigny premier cru Les Borniques, which is just north of Musigny. One of my favourites. You lose some contracts, you win some, but most of is quite stable.

He doesn’t have production guidelines as such for the growers. Depending on the appellation the situation is different. The higher up the hierarchy the more of a seller’s market it is.

– We are lucky to have some great contracts for some great appellations. Charmes-Chambertin, Chambertin, Clos de Roche, Clos de Vougeot etc. If I tell the grower that this or that doesn’t suit me he will just calmly say ”If you’re not happy with my grapes… No big deal. There are 20 others in line waiting to take your place”. On the other hand, for regional or more modest appellations it’s a matter of discussion. It’s a matter of relations, explaining what you want rather than saying you have to do this or that.

The Corton hill, Savigny-lès-Beaune and Beaune, Burgundy.A recent addition to the portfolio is the Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru Clos Saint-Jean.

– We had a red Clos Saint-Jean in the 1990s, I think it was. And I think we have never had a white. I like Chassagne whites, even if historically, given the terroirs they have, it’s more of a pinot noir village than a chardonnay village. Most of the soil is red or brown clay, which is more suited for pinot noir than chardonnay. Soil really suited for chardonnay is rare in Chassagne-Montrachet. Still, I think chardonnay does great there. I totally understand that there is more and more chardonnay and less and less pinot noir. That is what the market is asking for. And despite the warmer years I think the wines keep a nice freshness and a good acidity.

The Corton-Charlemagne at Maison Camille Giroud is a blend from four different suppliers. It is a blend from parcels all around the Corton hill – the coolest part of Pernand-Vergelesses, the southwest facing slope where Bonneau du Martray have their vineyards, the south facing slope above Aloxe-Corton and the southeast facing slope above Ladoix-Serrigny.

Carel Voorhuis at Maison Camille Giroud, Beaune, Burgundy.On average Carel Voorhuis produces ten barrels of the red Savigny-lès-Beaune premier cru Aux Clous. In terms of quantity this is enough for two different cuvées. One from whole clusters, one from totally de-stemmed grapes. Before bottling they are turned into one single cuvée.

– The Morey-Saint-Denis premier cru Clos des Godelles is, as I mentioned, another recent contract, says Carl Voorhuis. Now, you won’t find Clos des Godelles on a recent map. If you want to find it on a map you’ll have to go to the Archives départementales in Dijon because it’s the old name of this area. Nowadays it is called Le Village, but having a premier cru called Le Village is a bit confusing, so we found the old name. It’s a little clos quite central i Morey-Saint-Denis, just below the village.

One of the first changes Carel Voorhuis introduced when he arrived at Maison Camille Giroud was the use of whole clusters in the Charmes-Chambertin.

– I thought, and David agreed with med, that the Charmes-Chambertin was a really nice wine, but a bit too much international pinot noir, ripe pinot noir, style. I suggested in 2016 that we should use some whole clusters and it worked out really well, so we decided to increase the proportion. Now it is more complex and elegant. It still has the Charmes-Chambertin charm, sweetness, and roundness you’d expect. Especially if you compare it to the Chambertin, which is always more austere. It’s a more serious wine. This is more fun, for immediate enjoyment. Definitely a more interesting wine than what it used to be.

© 2022 Ola Bergman