Spotlight on Red Burgundy: Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits St Georges “Clos des Porrets St-Georges” Premier Cru 2009

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My perhaps overly ambitious spotlight on Burgundy has been running for many months and it is only now that I transition from the Cote de Beaune to the real heartland of Burgundy Pinot Noir – the Cote de Nuits – showing just how broad and complex the region is. I continue my journey from south to north, beginning with the first major village of the Cote de Nuits – Nuits St. Georges.

Onward Cote de Nuits

Nuits St. Georges is a village of very high quality, delicious and brooding pinot noir, but also does not have a single grand cru vineyard within it. The leading sites are the premier crus Les St. Georges, Vaucrains, and Cailles which lie adjacent on the southern most reaches of the appellation. The source for this wine, Les Porrets, is close in quality to both Vaucrains and Cailles, though it is Les St. Georges that is closest to Grand Cru quality.

The soils of Nuits St. Georges vary considerably, ranging from several types of limestone to marl, clay and sand. The soils of Les Porrets (of which the monopole Clos des Porrets is part) are gravel, clay and limestone.

Gouges, one of the most traditionalist producers in Burgundy, and has been making its own wine since the 1920s. Two grandsons of Henri Gouges run the domaine, one of whom (Pierre) was the first to introduce planting ray grass between rows to combat erosion. Apparently this also had the effect of making the vines’ roots delve deeper, which resulted in more concentrated fruit.

When it comes to winemaking, Gouges destems and cold-macerates. A maximum of 10% new oak is used here. The wines are built for aging, though in a vintage as ripe as 2009 they can be consumed young, as this wine was.

Why Nuits St. Georges? – Drink to Find Out

But technical details aside, why should we care about Nuits St. Georges? First, though not cheap, the Pinot Noirs here are some of the best value in Burgundy, with the top examples going for around $100 CDN (and available for less in the US). Village level wine can be found for half that. Unlike the Cote de Beaune, the wines here are darker, richer and more intense, with generally more interesting flavour profiles (excepting Volnay and some Pommard). The very best producers, like Gouges, are making outstanding, age-worthy wines with a lot of personality.

This Clos des Porrets is a case in point. With a bit of reduction on the nose, the fruit notes are ripe cherry and strawberry. Compared to many 2009’s this wine has superb balance and structure and the ripe fruit actually adds to the wine rather than being a stewy mess as is the case with lesser producers in this vintage. There is a lot of complexity on the palate and, coupled with the balance and structure, this should age marvelously. The wine is still quite tannic and if it were from anything other than the 2009 vintage with its forward and ripe fruit, this Porrets would be a travesty to drink so young. As it stands, the 2009 is a delicious, complex wine that will turn into something profound in 6-10 years.

Excellent to Excellent+
$100 at BCLDB

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