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Jan112011

Domaine Goisot ~ The best white burgundy producer you've never heard of...

Guilhem Goisot in the Gondonne Vineyard “The [wines of the] hugely talented Jean-Hughes Goisot … deliver flat out amazing quality, particularly given the modest appellations with which he works. Despite the fact that I have said it before, it’s worth repeating that I highly recommend these wines”. Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue #32

 “Here is surely one of the greatest domaines of the Yonne (the department that includes Chablis)…”

 Michel Bettane, Le Grand Guide des Vins de France 2009

The latest releases from the remarkable Domaine Goisot have just landed. Those searching for truly great value from the white burgundy category should be quick. We have tiny quantities.

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

After Goisot was described to us by a very famous Cote d’Or winemaker a number of years ago as “one of the super stars of French winemaking” we thought we had better pay him a visit. After all, here was a producer whose vineyards are all located in little known Saint-Bris, Cote d’Auxerre and Irancy yet who is rated by Revue du Vin de France’s Les Mielleurs Vines de France (France’s leading wine guide) as one of the top few producers in the Yonne (which includes Chablis). In fact, Goisot is given the same rating as Vincent Dauvissat, one of the truly great names of Chablis. In the Yonne/Chablis section of this guide, only two producers (both from Chablis) rate higher than Goisot, and every other Chablis producer gets a lower rating! No wonder Goisot have so little wine to offer export markets - the French are buying it all!

Like all of France’s greatest winegrowers, father and son Jean-Hughes and Guilhem Goisot work tirelessly in their vineyards to produce the highest standards of grapes possible. The 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 elevage, 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 speak 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-

St Bris

This appellation only received official AOC status in 2003 and is located around the village Saint-Bris-le-Vineux only a few kilometers southwest of the Chablis region. It was once part of Chablis and is unique, for a region within Burgundy, in that the whites are made from Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Gris/Fié Gris rather than Chardonnay. Goisot was the producer to reintroduce this later variety to the region as they feel it produces a far higher quality wine to 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 the wines here. The soil is even richer in Kimmeridgian limestone than Chablis proper with a lot more chalk as well. In the hands of a great vigneron like Goisot, the resulting wines are complex, creamy, mineral rich wines that put most Chablis to shame. Don’t be scared to give them a few years in the cellar.

Cotes d'Auxerre

From just outside the AOC of Chablis and south of the city of Auxerre. Here we return to Chardonnay for the whites and Pinot Noir for the reds. Again, with the whites from Goisot, it is easy to close your eyes and imagine you are drinking the finest Chablis, however here there is perhaps more flesh and more complexity (especially in riper years like 2006). Goisot has a number of parcels including the vineyards; Peillotte, Belle Croix, Chaussan, Biaumont, Gondonne, and Gueules de Loup, the last three of which are bottled separately in the better years. The soils here are again typically very rich in limestone and chalk (down to some 80 meters in depth). The Goisot reds can be superb and have the brightness and general personality that reminds of the better Cote Chalonaise reds although with perhaps a tad more structure.

Goisot SignThe wines:

8612       2009  Goisot Bourgogne Aligote

40 cases available. This wine has been one our favourite value Burgundies for the last few years. The 2009 has a lovely racy, pulpy, aromatic personality with lime, smoke, salt aromas and flavours. The only thing this has in common with other Aligote you may have tasted is the brightness. Otherwise it stands alone as one of the finest examples of this grape from Burgundy. Make no mistake, Aligote can be outstanding when it comes from the right soils and from old vines. Most of the vines here are between 50 and 80 years old. Ready to drink now but will certainly evolve for 3 -5 years.

“A spicy, ripe and mildly exotic white and yellow orchard fruit nose merges into rich, full and seductively textured flavors that possess good mid-palate fat, all wrapped in a persistent and notably dry finish that exudes freshness and energy. Drink: 2012+ Outstanding, Top value.”86-89/100 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound.com Issue 40, Oct 2010.

8613       2009  Goisot Cotes d'Auxerre Blanc

50 cases available. 100% Chardonnay. Another truly brilliant value. If this was a 1er cru Chablis you would be delighted. In fact it will give as much pleasure as most Grand Cru Chablis! Very, very Chablis in style with complex brine, lees, honey, stone fruit, iodine, etc aromas and flavours. It finishes with Chabliesque verve and precision. Very long. We simply cannot recommend this highly enough.  

“A background hint of pain grillé sets off pretty and ripe aromas of white peach and lightly spiced pear that slides gracefully into nicely rich and substantial middle weight flavors that possess good levels of dry extract along with a lovely minerality on the lingering finish. The only nit here is a barely discernible hint of backend warmth, which will probably not be noticeable as long as the serving temperature is appropriate. Drink: 2013+ Outstanding, Top value.”86-89/100 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound.com Issue 40, Oct 2010.

8614       2008  Goisot Cotes d'Auxerre Corps de Garde Blanc

100% Chardonnay. Those wines labelled Corps de Garde are made from the oldest vines and are selected because they intensely reflect their terroir. This is a lovely, pure, stony wine with a full, layered texture leading to a fresh, mineral close. Seriously deep and a brilliant value.

“A ripe and airy nose of dark berry fruit and earth moves seamlessly into the rich, generous and delicious medium-bodied flavors that possess fine complexity on the firm and ever-so-mildly tangy finish. I quite like this and it should reward 4 to 6 years of cellar time. Outstanding!” 88/100 points.  Allen Meadows, Burghound.com Issue 40, Oct 2010.    

“The Goisot 2008 Cotes d’Auxerre Corps de Garde exhibits a nutty depth as well as textural richness – both reinforced by the effect of its stay in barrel – along with citrus oils, salt, mint, iodine, and white pepper. There is plenty of positive pungency and invigoration to the wine’s gripping, energetic finish, and this estimable Auxerre Chardonnay ought to be worth following for at least 4-5 years, not to mention capable of challenging any generic Chablis whatsoever. This year’s blend, incidentally, comprises nearly 40% each selected barrels of Gueule de Loup and Biaumont, with the rest originating in Gondonne and a tiny portion from one other parcel. Drink: 2010 – 2015. ”   90/100 points. David Schildknecht, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Issue # 191, Oct 2010.   

8619       2008   Goisot Saint-Bris Corps de Garde Blanc

This is the only Fié Gris we have ever tasted from Burgundy (it is sometimes, if rarely, found in the Loire). This is superb yet radically different; a fine, intense wine that offers some herbaceous or resinous notes yet also a lot of Chablis like stone fruit and minerals, even blueberries. Very complex and long with a racy structure and a hint of candied fruits to close. A fascinating and rare Burgundy!;

“An elegant, pure and ripe nose again displays notes of orange peel and grapefruit aromas that merge into rich yet precise medium-bodied flavors that are clean, textured, complex and mouth coating. Excellent quality and recommended. Outstanding, Top value!” 88-91/100 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound.com Issue 36, Oct 2010.

“The Goisot 2008 Saint-Bris Corps de Garde – from Fie Gris (a.k.a. Sauvignon Rose, a.k.a. Sauvignon Gris) – represents the finest rendition I have ever tasted of this bottling. Spruce resin, orange and grapefruit rind, passion fruit, sage, musk, and fusil, smoky crushed stone notes rise invigoratingly but almost imperiously from the glass. Bittersweet pungency and tactile minerality inform a glycerin-rich palate and the finish – vibratory to an almost mouth-shaking degree – adds nettle, white pepper, and smoky black tea to the aforementioned litany of already intense elements. Expect this outstanding value to captivate over the next 6-8 years. Drink: 2010 – 2018.” 92/100 points. David Schildknecht, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Issue # 191, Oct 2010.

8617       2008  Goisot Bourgogne Cotes d'Auxerre Gueules de Loup Blanc

100% Chardonnay. One of the single vineyard Cote d’Auxerre that Domaine Goisot bottle in the finest years. Gueules de Loup (“wolf mouths”) is the name of St Bris’ most picturesque vineyard. The vineyard is named after a particular flower that flourishes in its soils (Snapdragon in English). The aspect here is south/south east and the soils are Portlandian and extremely limey. This is stunning in ’09 with an intensely floral, citrussy, mineral personality. The structure is supremely elegant and the overall impression is of a very classy white burgundy albeit one with plenty of power and length. Grand cru Chablis quality. 

“A subtle touch of pain grillé sets off fresh, cool and airy citrus-suffused aromas cut with touches of white flower and anise that can also be found on the rich, full-bodied and delicious flavors that manage to retain plenty of cut and detail on the solidly long and very dry finish. This is simply terrific for its level and is recommended. Outstanding! Drink: 2013+” 89/100 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound.com Issue 40, Oct 2010.

“The 2008 Cotes d’Auxerre Gueule de Loup reflects in Guilhem Goisot’s opinion an ideal combination of the advanced ripeness and pronounced mineral character attributable to this heat- yet also water-retentive white, rocky Portlandian limestone site. Iris, gentian, citrus oil, crushed chalk, and sea breeze in the nose lead to a subtly creamy yet refreshing, expansive yet delicate palate impression. Salt, iodine, crushed stone join persistent zesty citrus, piquantly cyanic cherry pit, and bitter-sweet floral essences in a strikingly long and buoyant finish. This beauty should be worth following for at least 5-6 years. Drink: 2010-2016.” 92/100 points. David Schildknecht, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Issue # 191, Oct 2010.

8616       2008  Goisot Cotes d'Auxerre Biaumont Blanc

100% Chardonnay from a single vineyard with vines ranging in age from 32-48 years old. Bottled only in the finest years. This is a more textural wine and strikingly deep. From soils rich in brown clay and Kimmeridgian limestone and a south/south west aspect. Lots of ammonite fossils can been found here. This is more ‘Meursault’ to Gueule de Loup’s Chablis.

“A slightly riper nose speaks of primarily yellow orchard fruit where added complexity is present in the forms of lemon rind and menthol hints that give way to textured and seductive flavors that also possess good mid-palate fat and ample volume on the citrusy and racy finish that is much more persistent than one typically finds at this level. Buy it. Outstanding! Drink: 2013+” 90/100 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound.com Issue 40, Oct 2010.

“Bottled– like their other single-vineyard selections – in February, the Goisots’ 2008 Cotes d’Auxerre Biaumont smells of iris; pink grapefruit; chalk dust; and salt spray. Hints of lanolin and vanilla emerge, courtesy of its modest component of new wood. Unremittingly chalky and saline, it is a bit leaner as well as marginally less refined, or complex than the corresponding Gueule de Loup. Hints of cherry pit and pistachio lend a bitter-sweet cast to a tenacious if slightly stern finish. This should merit at least 5-6 years of attention, becoming more generous and harmonious along the way. Drink: 2010-2016.” 90/100 points. David Schildknecht, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Issue # 191, Oct 2010.

8615       2008  Goisot Cotes d'Auxerre Gondonne Blanc

100% Chardonnay. Also from a single vineyard in Cote d’Auxerre and again only bottled in the finest years. Grown on denser soils of blue clay, marl and again limestone. Here the vines were a massal selection taken from the Chablis Les Clos holdings of Raveneau and Dauvissat, families that have close ties with the Goisot family. In Gondonne you find lots of exogyra virgula (small fossilized shells). It’s a superb site that typically produces the most powerful of the three wines. In 2008 the Gondonne starts delicate and pure then builds and builds, gaining richness and power, culminating in an explosive finish. Again, this bears comparison with the greatest wines of the region.

“Discreet if not invisible wood does not intrude upon the beautifully complex nose of peach, pear and apricot cut with grapefruit notes that slide gracefully into very rich, full-bodied and utterly seductive flavors that culminate in a Chablis-like finish that is bone dry and replete with iodine and mineral notes. Fabulous quality here that rivals anything produced in the Côte d'Or at this level. Outstanding! Drink: 2013+” 91/100 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound.com Issue 40, Oct 2010.

“From deep, southerly-exposed Marne clay and oyster fossil-rich Kimmeridgian limestone slopes planted largely with a selection of vines from Raveneau, the Goisot 2008 Cotes d’Auxerre Gondonne displays a juicy primary fruitiness of pear and yellow plum as well as a scallop-like savory depth to accompany the citric brightness, salinity, and overt chalkiness that it shares with its two single-vineyard siblings. Palpably dense yet refreshing and invigorating, it finishes long on pronounced, almost austere chalk and salt, but also with striking lift. It should prove versatile and fascinating over at least the next half dozen years. The Goisots were recently able to add a new parcel in Gondonne by swapping acreage with a grower for whom the site was too dauntingly steep for him to recoup its laborious cultivation. Drink: 2010-2016”. 91/100 points. David Schildknecht, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Issue # 191, Oct 2010.

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