Grégory Gouges set the scene for 2017 as he welcomed us on the first visit of our Burgundy trip. It was a very comprehensive overview which we will try and summarise in a few words! 2017 was a huge yielding year, Grégory said, which compensated for the tiny yields of 2016, but one had to resist the temptation to make lots of wine. Some domaines, he said, “let it go”. Spring time was agreeably warm and flowering took place in great conditions. There was little coulure or millerandage to naturally reduce the crop. They had an ‘easy’ year with no frost, no hail nor rot. The Gouges started harvesting on 12th September with good ripeness and yields of 38 - 40 hl/ha, more than normal but well less than authorised. “I’m very happy with this balance between the elements,” and they are “wines to age less, so for earlier drinking while waiting for the 2015s and 2016s.” He kept the wines in barrel for 12 to 14 months, about six months less than usual in a successful bid to protect the lovely, pure aromatic fruit quality.
The 14.5 ha Domaine Henri Gouges has excellent holdings in Nuits-Saint-Georges and produces some of the village’s most highly regarded wines. The average age of the vines is an impressive 50 years with some at 90 years old. Very much still family-run, the estate dates from the return of Henri Gouges from the Great War and subsequently he was one of the earliest to market estate-bottled burgundies. Grégory Gouges, from the fourth generation of the family, is now running the show with his younger cousin Antoine. Our visits usually start beside a venerable, old, hand-painted, raised-relief map which hangs on a wall in the townhouse Gouges headquarters, with Grégory explaining how his organic methods are successfully adapted to varying climatic conditions. Domaine Henri Gouges produces, in our opinion, deliciously intense wines, with tannins which are softer than some in the village. Grégory puts this down not only to better vineyard work, but also to employing gravity rather than pumping the wines around the smart winery built in 2007. Each spotlessly clean concrete tank is the perfect size for each of their vineyards and during fermentation the berries are kept intact for as long as possible. From the yard behind there are fine views up to a patchwork of terraced vines above the town.