Profile: Verget


Julien Desplans - VergetTasted in Sologny with Julien Desplans, 22 May 2019.

Verget SAS
Le Bourg
71960 Sologny
Tel: +33 3 85 51 66 00

In 1976, the young couple, Maine and Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynen, left their heimat of Flanders for Burgundy. They gave themselves a year to learn French and discover wine – and what better way than to study viticulture? Jean-Marie enrolled at the agricultural college of Davayé while Maine got work with the winegrowers of the village.

They started working a domaine in Vergisson, with almost 5 hectares of vines on fermage – “Vines that others didn’t want” – laughs Julien! In 1979, they bought a few parcels of vines in the heights of Pierreclos. The rest, as they say, is history. Even today there are only 6 hectares of vines at the domaine – just a little St.Véran has been added. But then there’s the well-known Maison of Verget that they also founded:

Maison Verget was started in the 1980s, using a different label – a different facility too in order to have a proper separation – though that didn’t stop this ridiculous affair. Today we discuss only the wines and winemaking.

Maison Verget began life making plenty of whites from the Côte d’Or. Guffens was one of the first that pushed the producers to buy grapes rather than everything in must. He also had a site in Chablis with Olivier Leflaive for a time. In 1998 a domaine in the Vaucluse was purchased – Château des Tourettes -and that’s now the Guffen’s main home, where they produce around 100,000 bottles. Maison Verget is closer to 350,000 though that depends on the vintage/volume. The production of the domaine is much less – only 15-20,000. Finally in 2007, another purchase, in Barsac.

The first triage is in the vines, and if the team are not happy with the grapes, they decline the purchase opportunity. All the grapes are hand harvested, there’s a triage table but it’s only used of really necessary. Julien says that it’s no problem if they see a little botrytis, but of-course no leaves! “For us, the utmost importance is the press and providing the best balance of pH and quality of the pressed juice; first press, last press etcetera. We have an old press at the domaine but updated (like the one at Lapierre in Morgon). Here at Verget, it’s a normal pneumatic press, but it’s not automatic, it’s always manned so that we have full control of the juice. When its time to stop, it’s time to stop! But the first presses are very similar to a vertical press as we don’t turn the barrel of the press. Then we let the juice settle overnight and add just a small amount of SO2.

Stainless-steel tanks are the norm for Maison Verget, many oriented horizontally – i.e. on their sides – giving a little more lees contact for the volume and less reduction too. It’s a long, ‘natural’ fermentation, the lees are quite mobile as they would be in a foudre. Julien says that they also add a little inert gas from the bottom of the tanks – CO2/N2 which helps suspend the lees, which he likens to a non-mechanical batonnage!

Of course, the wines don’t only use stainless-steel; wines can also head direct into barrel cellar below. They prefer malos to go through at the end of the alcoholic fermentation so that there’s no period without protection – “, Of course, you have to keep an eye out for deviations and be very clean in all the actions.” Plenty of 300-litre barrels are used, but typically with a maximum of 25% new oak. Racking is done in July. There may be a little batonnage “We are not big fans of batonnage but there is just a little,” The wine is racked into concrete tanks. The grand vans can stay here for 2-4 months with their lees – it’s brut cement, so there’s no epoxy coating. This brings a slight reduction to the wines which, in turn, means that a little less SO2 is required when bottling. The domaine works in much the same way, except that the wines wait 8-9 months in cement before bottling.

The domaine changed in 2011 to DIAM, here there’s also a lot of screw-cap in use – and since 2004 – it’s actually about 60% screw-cap here. “We work so hard on the precision in our wines, and even if not corked, sometimes there are other things that come from the corks, and sometimes they just dumb-down a wine, making them closed. Vin de France to grand cru, we’re happy with this. We sold 30,000 bottles in screw-cap in France this year – maybe things are changing even in France!

The wines are sold mainly en-primeur; the domaine’s wines are allocated, but principally the wines are exported – there are a couple of big french clients, but 70% of the maison wines are exported.

Julien on 2019:
The domaine was touched by frost in Pierrclos and St.Véran this year, otherwise, we are okay. At the Maison it’s more a question of the generics at the bottom of the hills where there’s very little. We will find some other things, but there are significant impacts.

Julien on 2017:
2017 is a good vintage, with plenty of density. We harvested quite early to keep the freshness – starting 27-28 Aug for the St.Véran. It was a year that started early and flowered well, not too long, so quite homogenous. A fruity vintage with more density than 2016. 2015 is better for some cuvées, but honestly, if every vintage was like 2017 we’d be quite happy. Nothing excessive – a good harvest.

The wines…

A privilege. The greatness of 2017 – not always fully acheived by many in this region – on full display. Great wine, followed by great wine. Bravo!

2017 Mâcon-Charnay Clos St.Pierre
This the most clay of these Mâcons, early harvested, just 2-3 months in barrel before moving to tanks. A small volume, all the vines ploughed. It’s the climat name, but there’s no wall – not today anyway.
A lovely width of aroma, fresh, faintly citrus, faintly saline – a nice invitation. Full, round, exquisitely mouth-watering – some green citrus in the flavour – good density – a little earthy flavour. Wide and mouth-watering and impressively long. Excellent! Bravo for an ‘entry’ wine…

2017 Mâcon-Bussières Vignes de Montbrison
Argillo-calcaire, 20 metres away from the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation – one of the last to be harvested – we have a great vigneron here. 20% new oak.
A more composed width of fresh, silky lemon. Supple, depth of flavour, mouth-watering again – more intensity – plenty of concentration – perhaps the oak is more textural it’s hardly there in the flavours. Gorgeous, a little floral finishing. Excellent – delicious wine – just a touch of energy away from ‘bravo’

2017 Mâcon-Vergisson La Roche
This wasn’t planted in the 1930s, perhaps because of that it’s not in the Pouilly AOP – vines on limestone with some altitude.
A big, pungent depth of aroma – I prefer the last two. Drive, energy, mobile, pure and fresh – clarity and energy – ooh, that’s gorgeous and slowly adding a little saline complexity too. A great finish – if the nose improves this will be very great Mâcon!

2017 St.Véran Terroirs de Davayé
Three parcels assembled – Les Pommards, les Clos, Chatigny – all barrel elevage with 15% new. More clay here than the last wine.
There is a weight to this nose but with good freshness above. Mineral, wide, a little more calm than the last. Composed but pure and with a fine mineral style and really wide finishing.

2017 St.Véran Vigne de Saint-Claude
From Prissé, higher than some Pouilly parcels. Approaching 25% new oak.
Hmm – here’s an attractive floral element to the nose. More volume but gorgeous transparency too. Energy, some drive, some minerality – a wine that plays over the palate – this I love despite a suggestion of barrel flavour at the end of the flavours. Bravo – love – but wait some months for that last touch of barrel to fade.

2017 St.Véran ‘Lieu (Inter)dit’
From Côte Rôti in Davayé – hence the play on the name…
A fine volume of fresh aroma here – clarity and depth – this is a definite invitation to drink even if it seems a little tight. An impression of faint gas – wider, more mobile over the palate – yellow, ripe, citrus – silky, beautiful shape over the palate. Just a little compact this wine – there’s more to come, I’m, sure – but really super – the finish is great!

2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Terroir de V.
A mix of terroirs from Vergisson – from Crays and some lower parcels – 25% new oak.
Perhaps a touch more colour. A nose of height and depth, a little more limited in the width today. Very wide, growing in volume – very mineral, but not a hint of austerity – layers of flavour. Simply a very fine structure to this wine – wait 1-3 years but excellent!

2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Terroirs de F.
A mix of terroirs from Fuissé – there’s more marne in this area, plain west-facing vines of about 60 years-old.
A rounder nose but directly with a little more complexity of herb, of tobacco. Mouth-filling volume – more intensity too – big wine. Great texture, mouth-watering but also layers of flavour. This I find great and will just keep getting better for the next few years… Bravo!
2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Sur La Roche
South-east facing vines, not much soil, lots of limestone. 25% new oak in the elevage
Not the biggest nose but plenty of volume and a touch of fumé to this nose – complex, fine agrume behind. Vibrant, layered – directly great – super texture, super depth of flavour. Impact but not hard – great wine!
2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Les Combes Vieilles-Vignes
Really a Combe, the young vines here are 80 years-old! Harvested in two waves, the last part 10 days later – this the assembly. There’s more clay here – if we have 30 hl/ha we are happy!
A deep, deep nose – some density here. Weight but balanced freshness. Vibrant flavour – a core of concentration – splitting hairs but less open than the last – but still clearly great wine. Wait longer but the finish is certainly a little more special than the last. Bravo!
2017 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Sous le Puits
A little more colour? Here is a very attractive, slightly white-flower, width of aroma. The impact of fresh volume in the mouth – a clear citrus base and plenty of freshness – that’s got a fabulous blend of flavour and energy – texture too! Super classy – does it have the length of the previous wines? But a super, if more expensive, wine. Bravo!
2017 Chablis Cuvée de la Butte
All stainless steel – from vines opposite and practically touching the 1er Butteaux – steep here with a small rendement – a little frost in 2017 – quite late harvested for here – 20 September. Hand harvested and then pressed in Chablis and then the juice comes to here.
Directly another world – what a nose – slightly exotic but ultra-mineral. Ooh, such fine intensity, such complexity, such drive – ooh, there’s a little impression of the stainless steel that needs to fade but what a wine – clearly grand vin for a villages!

2017 Chablis 1er Vaillons
From Beugnons in this vintage – all high up and all stainless elevage.
A little swirling releases some very pretty and fine complexity – you have to work the glass but there is reward here. Hmm, wide, concentrated, a little tannin, layered – ooh delicious, delicious, proper Chablis. Profound finishing. Excellent, perhaps bravo Chablis.

To finish, two domaine wines…

Harvested in multiple passes – this the ‘premier jus’ – it’s not the same name each year because it depends on the vintage

2017 Mâcon-Pierreclos 1er Jus de Chavigne
Medium colour – a tighter nose – but it’s cold – swirling, warming – a clarity of depth but still a little tight. Super mouth-filling effect here. Layers but actually more like waves of flavour – wide, a little mineral, more depth to this texture than the Chablis but maybe with more concentration too. A warmer wine but no less balanced – chalk and cheese – but great – special length…
2017 St.Véran 1er Jus
Three parcels, fast harvested – 5-6 barrels from a hectare – not much more than 15 hl/ha
More colour. A more overt, complex but also slightly reductive nose. Ooh – gorgeous impact on the palate – mineral, fresh, some sucrosity but also a width of intensity (?) in some aspects I’m struggling to describe – but this is great wine and very fine – it’s not lite but it will clearly grow more with time – but for sure great wine… Really bravo!

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There is one response to “Profile: Verget”

  1. weawines14th July 2019 at 4:41 amPermalinkReply

    What is Julien’s role at the Domaine?

    • billn15th July 2019 at 9:17 amPermalinkReply

      Julien’s business card says ‘Responsible de Production’ for Verget. His knowledge of the domaine seems watertight too – so I assume there is crossover – particularly as he also has those wines to hand…

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