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Domaine Guffens-Heynen

Breathtaking Mâcon from “one the world’s pinnacles for Chardonnay” [Bettane and Desseauve]

Over the decades Jean-Marie Guffen’s predisposition for ruffling feathers may have, at times, overshadowed the significance of his many triumphs. Today I think people simply accept that Guffen’s straight-shooting style simply comes with the territory. Indeed, the bullshit-free universe that Guffens inhabits may in fact be one of the key reasons why he has become such an important and influential grower in Burgundy. Trying to make better-than-Grand Cru whites in the Mâconnais? What kind of personality would try such a thing? Only an iconoclast, able to see through the cultural straight jacket of his times and recognise things as they might be in an alternative universe. 

There is still a great deal of poor viticulture in the Cote d’Or and there are many great and historic terroirs in them Mâcon. If you work to the highest possible standards in these latter terroirs, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to achieve greatness. Guffens saw this and he was right. Now others are following his lead. There’s no doubt that when the stars align, as they so often do here, Domaine Guffens-Heynen is nigh on untouchable. 

Domaine Guffens-Heynen is Jean-Marie Guffens’ folly. He pulls out all stops to make the greatest wines possible from the Mâcon, and the results are in the bottle for all to taste.

The Guffens-Heynen wines are very different in style to those of Verget – much more powerful, opulent, and layered. Meticulously produced from tiny yields of only flawless berries, these wines are made in minuscule quantities and allocated strictly. The fruit is harvested via multiple runs through the vineyard over a period of days. Only the perfect fruit makes it to the press. In the winery, Guffens’ favourite toy is a small hydraulic Champagne press made by Coquard in 1930, which he had rebuilt by hand in time for the 2001 harvest. This tool gives him the flexibility of being able to press multiple tiny batches of grapes each day, rather than having to wait longer to fill a larger press. While he can press extremely gently overnight, he can also drain off the free-run juice and capture 85% of the volume of the grapes in half an hour.

Grown and crafted by one of the wine world’s true freethinkers, these are wines of rare intensity and complexity, not just for Mâcon but for Burgundy as a whole. They twist and turn with every sip, evolving in surprising ways, and will gain finesse and minerality with bottle age while others simply gain weight. You don’t come here looking for lean, crunchy, reductive whites. You come knocking at the door of Guffens for power, expansiveness, waves of fruit and rocky minerality. As Andrew Jefford has written in The New France “Before Guffens, no one knew that Mâcon Peirreclos or even Pouilly-Fuissé could rival Corton-Charlemagne or Bâtard Montrachet. Now they do.”

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“Domaine Guffens-Heynen is one of the great domaines of Burgundy. Ample but incisive, concentrated but weightless, Guffens’s wines represent the apotheosis of a grape and a place. To say they are the equal of the wines of Puligny-Montrachet or Meursault would be to do them a disservice, because they’re all too frequently better.” William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

“This tiny domaine is one the world’s pinnacles for Chardonnay. We do not know of another winemaker capable of consistently extracting so much eloquence from the most noble of fruit and packing so much minerality from the limestone terroir in to the one wine!” Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, The World’s Greatest Wines

“He has the magic touch that you cannot learn from a book. The one constant throughout [Guffens' career] has been the quality of his wines. However much you might disagree with his views or smart at his opinions, you cannot argue when you take that first sip.” Neal Martin, Vinous

Country

France

Primary Region

Mâconnais

People

Winemaker: Jean-Marie Guffens

Availability

National

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