While it was not entirely unexpected, the recent death of Bordeaux’s great wine analyst Denis Dubourdieu of brain cancer at the age of 67 is a tragedy. I can only claim to have known him slightly from annual encounters in Bordeaux, but I valued every connection with this passionate and thorough professor. He also practiced what he preached: working with his wife and son he was also a chateaux owner. (I paid special attention to this because the main property he owned was Château Doisy-Daëne in the Sauternes & Barsac region which is a favorite of mine.)

Professor Denis Dubourdieu presenting at Bordeaux en primeur in 2011.

Professor Denis Dubourdieu presenting at Bordeaux en primeur in 2011.

Each April, during the annual Bordeaux en primeur week, Professor Dubourdieu would present to the media an exhaustive analysis of the current vintage of Bordeaux wines. He would explain in detail the conditions of the vintage: rainfall, temperature, and all the other factors that contributed to the development of the grapes, and how this would affect the wine made from these grapes. He would also lead us in a meticulous tasting of representative new wines of the vintage. In fact it was so meticulous that we were often impatient as the minutes – and hours – crept by. Yet even though we might be late for our dinners that night, we realized we were the beneficiaries of an incredible wealth, and depth, of knowledge.

This April (2016) Professor Dubourdieu and his team together presented the analysis of the new vintage. Dubourdieu, though passionate in his address, was obviously thinner and relied on his team for parts of the report. There was no comprehensive tasting of the wines. The presentation wrapped up early. Unfortunately.

Palate Press stories featuring Denis Dubourdieu’s work:

http://palatepress.com/2010/04/wine/field-report-bordeaux-en-primeurs-part-2/
http://palatepress.com/2011/04/wine/live-from-bdx-home-of-the-graves/
http://palatepress.com/2011/04/wine/back-from-bdx-vintages-prices-and-trends/

http://palatepress.com/2012/03/wine/minerality-in-wine-taken-for-granite/
http://palatepress.com/2015/08/wine/entre-deux-mers-bordeaux-enchanting-lower-east-side/

About The Author

Becky Sue Epstein
International Editor

Becky Sue Epstein is Palate Press’s International Editor. An experienced writer, editor, broadcaster, and consultant in the fields of wine, spirits, food, and travel, her work appears in many national publications including Art & Antiques, Luxury Golf & Travel, Food + Wine, and Wine Spectator. She began her career as a restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Times while working in film and television.

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  • Tom Mansell

    My only contact with him my first wine chemistry text, the Handbook of Enology, which he edited with the late Pascal Ribéreau-Gayon. It’s a reference I still find myself going back to with the odd fermentation question. A huge loss for Bordeaux and wine science.

  • I’ve been reading and appreciating Dr. Dubourdieu’s work, and the enormous breadth of work in which he’s had some kind of part, for as long as I’ve been interested in wine science. The groundwork he helped lay for research-industry collaborations will be doing good work for a long time.