Domaine Henri Gouges
One of Burgundy’s most famous and historic producers, the bottles of Henri Gouges are instantly recognisable for their distinctive green labels, while the wines themselves were always identified by their very sturdy tannic structure that need a lot of time, love and patience in the cellar for them to come around. No longer is this true, with riper fruit and tannins in the vineyard and practices in the cellar are less extractive, and yet the wines remain first class amongst the great producers in Nuits-St-Georges. Henri’s great grandson, Gregory Gouges, now makes the wine for this 15 hectare domain.
Nuits-St-Georges village - £175/6 IB
One of two domains I visited that upon tasting the first red I couldn’t stop smiling. Gouges is strong in the southern part of Nuits-St-Georges, this is a single plot from this end of the appellation. A powerful style of Burgundy this dark and complex, Gregory picked earlier than he did in 2009 (a vintage of similar ripeness) to keep this fresh. Surprisingly seductive for young Nuits-Saint-Georges. Drink from upon release or from 2020 onwards.
Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos de Porrets - £220/6
This is a 3.5 hectare monopole with the Les Porrets vineyards, and therefore exclusive to Henri Gouges. It’s very stony and sited on the mid slope, with vines from 15-30 years of age and some over 60 years old. Again that beautiful, complex perfume built around plum and licorice with some wilder elements. Oak more evident but only just. Will age wonderfully. Drink from 2021 onwards.
Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Vaucrains - £360/6
There are no grand crus in Nuits, but along with Les St-Georges this vineyard would undoubtedly figure in discussions about elevating premier cru sites to grand cru status. This sites just above Les St-Georges and has a similar soil type but it is much, much steeper and therefore more rocky. Les Vaucrains is known for its intensely coloured and long-lived wines, with Henri Gouges amongst the leading producers. A 1 hectare plot with some 10-25 year old vines, and others around 70-80 years old. Masses of blue forest fruits and an inviting oak richness, this site is higher and close to the woods and therefore champions great freshness. My wine of the day at our visit. Will be difficult to keep your hands off but try to leave it until 2023 onwards.
Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les St-Georges - £475/6
The ‘grand cru’ of Nuits. Stories tell that it would have been classified as thus but the original Henri Gouges was mayor of the village when the classifications were drawn up and he insisted no appellations were given grand cru status (perhaps to minimise tax liabilities). Whatever the rationale, there is a wide school of thought that Les St-Georges is worthy of the most esteemed classification. This is the daddy wine here, a nose with fabulous depth and perfume, a creamy tone of sweet oak is dispersed on one swirl revealing sumptuous blue fruits and a dark graphite richness. There is a lot of tannin but so much fruit, very long and very tight. Will age as magnificently as Les Vaucrains. Drink from 2023 onwards.
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