Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges “La Perriere” Blanc 2004
Chardonnay is the new comer to Burgundy compared to Pinot Noir, which has been grown in the region for centuries. In the last several decades, however, Chardonnay has clearly made its place. The classic division in the Cote d’Or is between the northerly Cote de Nuits (pinot noir territory) and the Cote de Beaune (land of Chardonnay + Pinot). Few feel that there is any point planting Chardonnay in the key villages of the North in any quantity or that it is possible of greatness. Even less is said of the other white grapes.
White in Red
Henri Gouges is one of the top producers in Nuits St. Georges and known to be highly traditional, making highly structured, backward wines with a ton of tannin. Some call the wines rustic, but the best are clearly great wines with unique character.
Gouges also makes this little known white wine from the La Perriere vineyard, which is one of the top premier crus in a village with no grand crus. Some would wonder why anyone would make white wine in this hallowed Pinot Noir territory. But this is no Chardonnay. Rather, Gouges makes this wine from an extremely rare mutant of Pinot Noir that the Domaine discovered and propagated.
As with the traditional Pinot Noirs, the wine is vinified traditionally, fermentation starting in cuve then into cask (20% new) on the lees.
A Mutant’s Voice
This is fascinating wine. A sweet nose, with licorice and spice notes and plenty of signs of secondary development including caramel and slight oxidative notes.
The palate is extremely savory and at what seems to be peak development before the decline. Nori, soy, hints of caramel, apple and slight oxidativeness combine in a unique melange of flavour and red-wine like texture and tannin. The wine is very well structured and still holding up. While this is not an ‘upper echelon’ white Burgundy, it is also an opportunity to taste something entirely different.
Very little of this wine is made (120 cases), but it is well worth seeking out simply to experience why mutations matter. It also happens to be delicious.
~$60 at Liner and Elsen, Portland