Girardin | Domaine Vincent
Vincent Girardin is a man in a hurry. In just a few years, he's progressed from upstart winemaker to one of Burgundy's bona fide rising stars.
With 95 percent of his wines sold outside France, he knows something about the sink-or-swim world of international competition. In this cutthroat environment, any advantage helps, and printing "Burgundy" on your label should be an obvious leg up.
In reality, says Girardin, too many poor Burgundies are sold. "You have growers who are convinced that the way they've always worked is perfect, even though their bottles are undrinkable," says Girardin, 38. "Twenty percent are good growers, but the other vignerons float on a cloud, without any idea of how bad their wines are.."
Worse, the whistle-blower fumes, the bad wines are often sold for the same prices as the good Burgundies. This situation, he says undercuts the region's reputation, not to mention the competitiveness of shippers like himself. "In the New World, they're much more realistic; in Burgundy, we're not realistic," he says.
Girardin produces clean, pure and fruity wines. "I don't want my wines to taste musty, like an old cellar," he says. "The style of many Burgundy wines made 20 to 30 years ago is out of date. We're into a new millennium and we can't take anything for granted."
He's been able to pursue his vision freely because he's the master of his own universe. "I'm alone to decide, while more than 50 percent of Burgundy's wineries are held by the parents," says Girardin. "And when daddy says no, it's no, even if the younger generation wants to change things."
He started his own business in 1982, with 5 acres inherited from his parents. Today, he farms 40 acres, which produce one-fifth of the bottles he makes. The rest is made from must or grapes he purchases from growers whose work he respects.