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.

The Range

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy La Voie de Cravant 2020
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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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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre La Ronce Rouge 2020
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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
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre La Ronce Rouge 2019
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre La Ronce Rouge 2019

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. 

“This nose is more compact after the last, but there’s a finesse to this aroma too. Finer tannin – practically no grain to find just a subtle dryness. This the wine with the finest texture, the previous with the finest flavour – it would be great to compare their evolution over the next years.”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
“From vines located on light blue clay with no surface detritus, the 2019 Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre La Ronce has an exquisite, floral bouquet of blackberry and raspberry fruit infused with peony and violet scents. The palate is very well balanced with pliant tannins, superbly judged acidity and firm grip on the finish, counterbalanced by a lovely saline note that lingers in the mouth. Wonderful.”
92 points, Neal Martin, Vinous
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre La Ronce Rouge 2019
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy La Voie de Cravant 2019
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy La Voie de Cravant 2019

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 loaded with spice and plummy fruit, with plenty of mouth-watering sap for freshness.

The altitude, exposition and soils combine to fashion a deep and structured Pinot loaded with spice and plummy fruit, with plenty of mouth-watering sap for freshness.

Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Irancy La Voie de Cravant 2019
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris La Ronce Blanc 2020
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris La Ronce Blanc 2020

Biodynamic. Sauvignon Gris/Sauvignon Blanc. Today we offer our first two vintages of Goisot’s newest cuvée. It’s a field blend of the two Sauvignons, planted in the north-facing section of La Ronce (which qualifies for the Saint-Bris appellation). Guilhem planted the vines between 2012 and 2015 to craft an “old-style field blend like our grandparents used to make.” Fermented wild and raised in tank for 19 months, both wines are off-the-charts delicious. Some 10% of the juice is raised in earthenware amphoras, bringing a measure of savouriness that Guilhem appreciates, and plans to increase over the years.

“A pale colour with some lime tints. Fresh apricot and pineapple but not disagreeably tropical. If you could have pineapple blossom it would be that. The most powerful fruit of all on the palate and with that delicious light bitterness at the back that assures longevity. Just like its pinot friend. Keeps coming back. Splendid!” Five Star Wine
91 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris La Ronce Blanc 2020
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris La Ronce Blanc 2019
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Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris La Ronce Blanc 2019

Biodynamic. Sauvignon Gris/Sauvignon Blanc. Today we offer our first two vintages of Goisot’s newest cuvée. It’s a field blend of the two Sauvignons, planted in the north-facing section of La Ronce (which qualifies for the Saint-Bris appellation). Guilhem planted the vines between 2012 and 2015 to craft an “old-style field blend like our grandparents used to make.” Fermented wild and raised in tank for 19 months, both wines are off-the-charts delicious. Some 10% of the juice is raised in earthenware amphoras, bringing a measure of savouriness that Guilhem appreciates, and plans to increase over the years.

“A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, the 2019 Saint-Bris La Ronce is very pure on the nose, featuring apple blossom, frangipane, white tea and a touch of spice. The poised palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity and impressive depth. Quite saline on the finish. Give this another 12 months in bottle.”
92 points, Neal Martin, Vinous
Domaine Guilhem & J-Hugues Goisot Saint-Bris La Ronce Blanc 2019
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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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