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Domaine Guilhem et Jean-Hugues Goisot

Biodynamic Burgundy at Improbable Prices from “one of the superstars of French winemaking”

As many of our clients will already know, this pioneering biodynamic Yonne Domaine (the same department of Burgundy which includes Chablis) produces some of the most exciting wines of Burgundy, and also some of this region’s greatest values. For a Domaine that works in an area that most wine lovers have never heard of, Goisot has earned an unprecedented reputation in France. The late Anne-Claude Leflaive once described Goisot to us as “one of the superstars of French winemaking”, while La Revue du Vin de France rates only five Chablis Domaines on the same level or higher. This, despite the fact there is not a 1er Cru or Grand Cru classification in sight. 

How has such a small, quiet, out-of-the-way grower broken into the Chablis elite? In short, they farm some of northern Burgundy’s purest limestone vineyards, possess a large proportion of old vines, and practice some of the region’s most transparent, precise élevage.  Most importantly, Guilhem Goisot’s tireless, biodynamic work in the vineyard—emblematic of the finest winegrowers in all of France—places him at the very top in the greater Chablis area. 

Occasionally—in truth very occasionally—a wine importer stumbles across a brilliant producer working in one of the so-called “lesser appellations”, producing wines far superior to many, more famous names in more renowned terroirs. Domaine Goisot is such a producer.

Goisot’s vineyards are planted to 10,000 vines per acre as opposed to the regional average of roughly half this density. The viticulture is certified biodynamic, and yields are kept very low. They use only homeopathic, natural treatments in the vineyard and harvests are done exclusively by hand, with several passes through the vineyard. In the winery, the philosophy is classic ‘minimalist’ with natural yeasts, a long, slow élevage, minimal fining and/or filtration only if required. Very few, if any, Chablis producers can match these exacting viticulture standards.

The wines of Domaine Goisot are for those open-minded drinkers who don’t drink vineyard names but rather are more concerned with the quality and integrity they find in the glass – in this case, they will find a great deal of both. These are intense, textural yet racy, mineral wines with a rich, stony, earthy complexity that speaks loudly of the chalky soils that typify the greater Chablis area. Think of everything you would want from a great Chablis producer (i.e, more richness, complexity and breed than you typically find) and you will be on the right track.

REGIONAL NOTES

Saint-Bris

This appellation only received official AOC status in 2003 and is located around the village of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, on the edge of the Chablis region. It is for white wines only. It was once part of Chablis and is unique in Burgundy in that the whites must be made from Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Gris/Fié Gris. Goisot was the producer to reintroduce this latter variety to the region, as they feel it produces a higher quality wine than Sauvignon Blanc. It is certainly very different. Anyway, if you are anti-Sauvignon, do yourself a favour and forget the variety: it is the terroir (Burgundian through and through) that speaks the loudest in these wines. Compared to Chablis, the soil here is even richer in Kimmeridgian limestone and chalk. In the hands of a great vigneron such as Goisot, the resulting wines are complex, creamy and mineral, putting most Chablis to shame. They can also cellar well over two to six years.

Côtes d’Auxerre

From the hills just outside the AOC of Chablis and south of Auxerre there are two AOC’s: Saint-Bris, for Sauvignon and Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre (Burgundy from the hills of Auxerre) for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The soils here are extremely rocky and rich in the same types of limestone found in nearby Chablis. The whites, from a great grower like Goisot, can match the finest Chablis, with perhaps more flesh and more complexity. Goisot has several parcels, most famously Biaumont, Gondonne, and Gueules de Loup, which are bottled separately in the better years. The Goisot Côte d’Auxerre reds (Pinot Noir) can be superb, having the brightness, energy and chalky tannins (when young) of reds grown on such limestone soils and in such a marginal climate. They can remind one of certain Loire, Jura or Mercurey reds and can be delicious, especially with age.

Irancy

Irancy is a small hamlet, with just over 300 inhabitants, situated roughly equidistant from Auxerre and Chablis. The village lies 2km from the Yonne River and is surrounded by a large natural amphitheatre of vines. Like the Côtes d’Auxerre, it is one of the most northern AOCs in France to grow red grapes. As in the neighbouring wine villages of Chitry and Saint-Bris, the wines of Irancy make only rare appearances on export markets. While a small amount of rosé is produced, the region produces mainly red wines from Pinot Noir (which must account for 90% of the blend). Also permitted to a maximum of 10%, is the Burgundian vinifera non grata, César. The vineyards, interspersed with cherry orchards, are planted on slopes of Kimmeridgian limestone mixed with red clays. The highly mineralised soils and the northern climate help to give these Pinots bright acid and a tangy, chiselled personality. Goisot has a paltry 0.5ha in the lieu-dit of Les Mazelots where the vines are now 100 years old. In fact, the Goisot vines are some of the oldest Pinot vines in France and produce outstanding wines. The paltry yields generate genuine concentration to match the powdery structure and can live and develop beautifully. Great value for those looking for Côte d’Or alternatives.

Currently Available

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre Biaumont Blanc 2019

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre Biaumont Blanc 2019

Biodynamic. Single vineyard Chardonnay. Like any part of Burgundy, the Côtes d’Auxerre is a mosaic of small climats and vineyards. Goisot farms a mind-boggling 40+ individual parcels, with only the finest Chardonnay sites bottled individually. This cuvée is drawn from an old vine, single-hectare parcel in Les Biaumonts (pronounced like Beaumonts) at 250 metres above sea level. The vines here are between 40 and 50 years old, and the soils share a Kimmeridgian profile similar to Gueules de Loup. Biaumont has a sunnier, south/southwest aspect, and there is also more brown clay in the very rocky soil strewn with significant ammonite fossils (something that Goisot notes is unusual for this altitude).

“Here’s a vibrant nose again but in this case, it’s a more classic yellow-citrus with a faint suggestion of barrel. Wide, more overtly chalky-mineral, a little richness, a depth, of texture. Long, long finishing with a faint salinity too. Far from ready but there’s tons of potential here – but I expect patience will be required.”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
“The 2019 Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Biaumont Blanc has an entrancing bouquet of dried honey, white flowers, quince and honeysuckle; just a hint of chamomile emerges with time. The palate is very well balanced, taut and fresh, with a fine bead of acidity. Not deep but tensile. A chalky note appears toward the long finish. Very fine.”
91 points, Neal Martin, Vinous
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre Biaumont Blanc 2019
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris Corps de Garde Blanc 2019

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris Corps de Garde Blanc 2019

Biodynamic. This house favourite is made from Fié Gris (aka Sauvignon Gris). Fié Gris used to be a much more commonly planted variety around Auxerre, but its fickle, low-yielding nature (on average it yields 35-40% less than Sauvignon Blanc) sealed its fate. Luckily for us, the Goisots have persevered and today, their old vines of Fié Gris flourish in the rich, red-brown clay and limestone soils of the Côte de la Canne, Cornevin and Moury vineyards. Unlike the Sauvignon Blanc wines, this bottling was partly fermented and raised in old 500-litre barrels. It’s always one of Burgundy’s leftfield gems, and Goisot has nailed this release. It’s always one of Burgundy’s leftfield gems, and Goisot has nailed this release. The 2019 opens with pungent aromas of zippy citrus, white fruits, some subtle herbaceous tones and enticing savoury scents. On the plate, it is fresh and saline, with ripe citrus flavours, pitch-perfect acidity, textural prowess and a phenolic nip to close. It will match brilliantly with a variety of seafood and white meat dishes.

It’s always one of Burgundy’s leftfield gems, and Goisot has nailed this release. The 2019 opens with pungent aromas of zippy citrus, white fruits, some subtle herbaceous tones and enticing savoury scents. On the plate, it is fresh and saline, with ripe citrus flavours, pitch-perfect acidity, textural prowess and a phenolic nip to close. It will match brilliantly with a variety of seafood and white meat dishes.

“That’s another great nose – so attractive – the first sniff suggests a light reduction but the second no-more. Some gas here. Open, mineral, purity, clarity of flavour. Vibrantly finishing – and very long too – finishing with the dry tannin of the vintage…”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris Corps de Garde Blanc 2019
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy Les Mazelots 2020

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy Les Mazelots 2020

Biodynamic. Single vineyard Pinot Noir from 100-year-old vines. Irancy is a small hamlet with just over 300 inhabitants, situated roughly equidistant between Auxerre and Chablis. The village lies two kilometres from the Yonne River and is surrounded by a large natural amphitheatre of vines. It is one of the most northerly AOCs in France to grow red grapes, and like the neighbouring wine villages of Chitry and Saint-Bris, the wines of Irancy only make rare appearances on the export market. The vineyards, interspersed with cherry orchards, are planted on slopes of Kimmeridgian limestone mixed with red clays. These highly mineral soils and the extreme northern location help to give these Pinots incredible energy, brightness and a tangy, chiselled minerality.Goisot has a paltry 0.5 hectares in the lieu-dit of Les Mazelots, and his viticulture and vine age are now delivering serious depth and flesh. In the context of Irancy, this wine is a superstar. These are some of the oldest Pinot vines in France and produce outstanding, super-mineral, savoury wines with irresistible energy. In the past, these could be big chewy wines that were hard to approach young, but Guilhem Goisot has brought more plushness and seduction in recent years as he has learned to tame the tannins and intense minerality of this terroir.

“Dark crimson purple. A very Irancy nose with that touch of dry graphite which I frequently find. All Pinot, no César, from vines more than 100 years old. Needs 5 years to lose the mineral graphite to let the fruit and flowers evolve, I suspect. Tense, tight, mineral, red blood character, fresh plums. Tannins without being rustic.”
90 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy Les Mazelots 2020
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre La Ronce Rouge 2020

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre La Ronce Rouge 2020

Biodynamic. Single-vineyard Pinot Noir. Replanted some twenty years ago to 12,000 vines per hectare, La Ronce was established with low-yielding, massale selection vines specifically chosen to suit the site’s warm microclimate. Each vine naturally yields only 2-4 bunches —about half to a third of what you would expect of a well-managed Grand Cru site in the Côte d’Or! Unlike Les Mazelots in Irancy, La Ronce is on white clay soils rich in fossils. This soil gifts a more seductive, sweet-fruited, ‘Beaunois’ style of Pinot than the Mazelots’ more mineral, structured persona.

“Beautiful density to the colour, with a serious depth of rich raspberry fruit. I can see why this comes last in the line-up. Not sucrosity but an unctuous texture to the fruit which is lovely. A huge amount at the back of the palate, with good tannins to finish.”
90 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“Hmm – that’s broad and freshly perfumed – no overt greens here. Direct, fluid, mouth-watering with flavour complexity. Then a burst – a firework of finishing flavour – bravo!”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre La Ronce Rouge 2020
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre Gueules de Loup Blanc 2020

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre Gueules de Loup Blanc 2020

Single vineyard Chardonnay. Gueules de Loup is arguably the most picturesque vineyard of the Côtes d’Auxerre and is named after the beautiful flowers (snapdragons) that flourish in its soils. This one-hectare site faces south/southeast, and the soils are almost pure limestone, Portlandian downwash, which lends this cuvée its excellent mineral backbone (although it also lacks nothing for opulence). The vines are over 40 years old. The Goisots believe this is a terroir quite similar to the 1er Cru Vaillons in Chablis, but there is more ‘white Burgundy’ personality here than we have ever seen from Vaillons. Maturation is all in barrels, on lees.

“A higher-toned perfume – a little more chalky freshness. Extra fresh, extra mineral in the mouth. A subtle tannin and then an extra depth of finishing flavour. A faint, positive green accent only in the finish of this wine today. Super wine.”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
“Pale lemon in colour. The nose is intense but a little fresher than Biaumont. Nuanced behind the concentration. Ripe orchard fruit, with underlying citrus, clean and mineral with weight and length. I love the crystalline finish.”
89 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre Gueules de Loup Blanc 2020
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy La Voie de Cravant 2020

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy La Voie de Cravant 2020

Organic. Single-vineyard Pinot Noir. La Voie de Cravant is a young, organically cultivated parcel of 0.30 hectares in the lower part of the appellation, facing west or south-south-west on red clay with Kimmeridgian stones. Back in 2018, Goisot took over the farming of the vines from a friend who was looking for someone to manage the parcel; 2019 was the first release. The altitude, exposition and soils combine to fashion a deep and structured Pinot.

“A rounder nose of ripe fruit – quite a cushioned start. Wider, lots of fresh energy – the grain of tannin is finer. Lots of concentration here, quite a cherry-fruit style and slightly saline too long finishing. A big wine, but a delicious one.”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy La Voie de Cravant 2020
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“… the truth of the matter is that quality is shoulder-to-shoulder with far more famous labels. In Goisot, we have a grower as meticulous and as principled as you will find anywhere and the results can be seen in the glass.” Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Country

France

Primary Region

Burgundy

People

Winemaker: Guilhem Goisot

Availability

National

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