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Rest in Peace to a Legend: Denis Dubourdieu

Erin Green

Rest in Peace to a Legend: Denis Dubourdieu

Anyone who is a wine connoisseur or works in the business knows Denis Dubourdieu. His name rings bells across vineyards and homes alike. Denis passed away July 26th, 2016 at the age of 67 after a prolonged battle with brain cancer. He leaves behind his wife, Florence, and their two children, Jean-Jacques and Fabrice.

He and his wife built a vineyard in the 1980s in Pujols sur Ciron, a commune in the Gironde department in Aquitaine in southwestern France – just south of the infamous Bordeaux region. This yineyard, Clos Floridène, is the first of several vineyards that they would own and manage throughout life. He owned, managed, and co-managed numerous properties in the Bordeaux region including Château Haura, Château Reynon, Château Cantegril, and Château Doisy Daëne. On top of being a winemaker, Dubourdieu was a wine researcher and consultant. Denis previously consulted at Château Cheval Blanc, or “White Horse Castle,” in Saint-Emilion. He was a man of many wine trades. He doubled as a director of l'Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin de l'Université de Bordeaux, or the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences of the University of Bordeaux – a multi-disciplinary research center where experts assist wine producers in the technique, technology, and economic molding of wines. 

Denis’ father and grandfather were both winemakers who specialized in white wines. So it was only right that he followed in their footsteps. He has certainly created a name for himself, being dubbed “wine’s most famous scientist.” Since the 1960s, Bordeaux wines were known for being sweet and low quality. Denis Dubourdieu helped the improvement of white Bordeaux wines to become “serious, potentially profound dry white wines.” He helped improve bottling techniques, innovated oak barrel fermentation with extended skin contact, and organic farming.

Decanter Magazine named Dubourdieu “Man of the Year” in June 2016. He was also awarded Knight of the Legion of Honor in March. Robert Parker, a leading United States wine critic with an international influence, once referred to Dubourdieu as “the famous professor from Bordeaux.” Denis has written and co-written several books during his time. They can be purchased here. During one of his interviews, Dubourdieu shared his love for wines by speaking about them as living beings, incapable of being divorced from emotion. “When one speaks about one’s own wines, like when one speaks about one’s children or one’s loved ones, there is always a lack of objectivity,” he said.



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