For a number of reasons this domain seems to fly under the radar of many consumers. With 48 hectares of owned vines – many rated at premier cru and higher – one might expect the domaine to have a higher profile – within the Côte d’Or that’s about the same as Joseph Drouhin – given the very ‘above-average’ quality of the wines one might expect doubly-so. The fact is that the owners are more than happy to have their wines placed with prestigious restaurants in France – indeed in the rest of Europe too. Over 80% of their production is exported, the major markets being US, UK, Switzerland, Germany and Japan – but apparently Russia is now a booming market!
Dominique Guyon and his brother Michel control the business that was started by their father Antonin in the 1960’s. Antonin was relatively mature when set out on his vine-owning journey – 55 – buying his first parcels in Gevrey and Meursault. The biggest single addition to the family’s holdings came in 1970 after Dominique had patiently accumulated hundreds of small parcels from ~80 Hautes Côtes de Nuits growers in Meuilly into a single, 22 hectare, block of south-facing vines. Based in Savigny-lès-Beaune the domain owns a fine range of vines from around the hill of Corton but their northern limits are in Gevrey, southern in Meursault, western in the aforementioned Hautes Côtes de Nuits and to the east in Chorey-lès-Beaune.
For the volume they produce, this is a tidy and compact operation with only around 18 employees – though (almost) everyone was taking a well-earned holiday on the day of my visit following 4 consecutive weekends of post harvest work. Although the labels all look very similar, the eagle-eyed will note attribution to 4 different domaines; Domaine du Village, Domaine Hippolyte Thevenot, Domaine Guyonière and finally Domaine Dominique Guyon – from an ownership and production perspective there is no real difference, they are simply separate civil entities for bookkeeping!
Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits||22.0 red, 0.5 white|
Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc 1er Sous Fretille||0.90|
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Les Fichots||0.59|
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Les Vergelesses||0.58|
Chambolle-Musigny Clos du Village||0.55|
Beaune Clos de la Chaume Gaufriot||0.77|
Volnay 1er Clos des Chenes||0.87|
Meursault 1er Les Charmes Dessus||0.69|
Aloxe-Corton 1er Les Fournières||1.35|
Aloxe-Corton 1er Les Vercots||0.70|
Corton Clos du Roy||0.55|
From vines to wines
Ploughing and occasional additions of compost are the main ‘treatments’ in the vineyard. Green harvests are practiced with the aim to harvest around 5 bunches per vine. Those 5 bunches are typically picked quite late to get the best maturity.
Picking is 100% by hand with first triage at the vine; the aim is to get the grapes to the cuverie within 30 minutes of picking. At the cuverie there is a second triage before the grapes are completely destemmed then placed into the large (temperature controlled) open-top wooden fermentation tanks. A rough ‘rule of thumb’ is that there is one week cold (10-12°C) maceration, one week of (maximum 30°C) fermentation then finally one week of post-fermentation maceration with twice-daily remontage/pigeage before gravity feeding into barrels in the cellar below. 50% new oak is used for the grand crus, less for the ‘smaller’ wines.
For the whites, the grapes are whole-pressed with a relatively light touch of the pneumatic press; the pressed juice then settles and is racked into the barrels. These whites stay on their lees for as long as possible with a weekly batonnage – bottling is usually after about 12 months – with the exception of the Corton-Charlemagne which typically stays in barrels for 18 months.
Switzerland seems to be a relatively easy market to find these wines – they are carried by a number of retailers. I note some really excellent bottles in the last two years which I list below before moving onto the 2005’s I sampled at the domaine early in November 2006.
|2002 Guyon Antonin Corton-Charlemagne|
Drunk directly following Drouhin’s 02 Puligny Clos de la Garenne. This is just a little darker yellow. The nose frankly assaults your senses with wide, brawny notes of flowers, wet wool, creamy vanilla and just a little honey. The palate is likewise, no model of restraint; muscled, rippling acidity wrapped in a slightly buttery fatness but somehow also an edge of minerality that shows on the long finish. It’s a show of muscles here, but it’s a very impressive show.
|2002 Aloxe-Corton 1er Les Fournières|
Good medium-plus cherry-red colour. The nose starts full of minerals and sweet red cherry, slowly becomes a little higher-toned and diffuse, the drops in the glass, however, have a lovely smell. The palate is quite intense and pure, red-fruity – quite fresh too. The tannins are quite mouth puckering and astringent, but you don’t notice so-much with food.This will always be a little acid-forward, but there’s plenty-enough fruit to wait 2-3 years for the tannin to melt a little. Pretty good.
|2000 Guyon Antonin Corton-Charlemagne|
Medium yellow, looks quite young. The nose is lovely – textbook Charlemagne – wide, deep and dense with hints of agrumes against white blossom. Starts with a punch a grows even more in the mouth before slowly fading. Almost good acidity with good purity and intensity from the fruit. I’d have preferred a touch more sweetness, but this wine should now be left for is more savoury future. A good Charlemagne.
|1998 Guyon Antonin Corton Clos du Roy|
Medium-plus ruby-red. When cold, this is wide and fresh with good purity. As it warms there is a touch of herb and the fruit has a more jammy edge. The tannin seems a little more prevalent when cold, linear, expanding into a very long finish. Warmer, it is fatter, the tannin sits better and the acidity is just right. Not a great grand cru, but it’s tasty and almost good value.
|2005 Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc 1er |
Forward and interesting nose. Sweet and ripe palate – well concentrated. This is very good and relatively rich.
|2005 Meursault Les Charmes Dessus|
A deeper, faintly creamy nose that gets wider with aeration. The palate is wide and ripe with a super acidity and real length – lovely balance and finesse.
From a number of parcels mainly in Aloxe – just above Corton Renardes and also next to a plot of Bonneau du Martray. The nose is much tighter than the previous two wines – gives little away, though there is an evolution of width and higher tones. Despite a little gas on the palate there is an obvious extra density and rich texture to this wine. Hard to tell just now, but I think this might end up a slightly more mineral wine than the blockbuster 2002.
|2005 Beaune Clos de la Chaume Gaufriot|
Harvested at 35 hectoliteres per hectare. Medium-plus cherry-red. A swirl reveals forward, high-toned red cherry and some raspberry. Really excellent balance. There’s some mild astringency to the tannins, lively personality and really good length. The nose also becoming a little more interesting. This will be an excellent buy and a qualitative match to many 1er crus.
|2005 Chambolle-Musigny Clos du Village|
A tiny 0.55 hectare walled plot on the edge of the 1er cru of Les Cras – also harvested at 35 hl/ha. Lovely colour. A deeper and at the same time more mineral nose than the Beaune – a nice red/black fruit melange. Fine textured tannins and an obvious extra fruit dimension in the mid-palate and into the finish. Good though the Beaune was, there is more density and more class here. Another wine that could wear a 1er cru label – excellent! This will be bottled next month and I intend to be near the front of the queue!
|2005 Volnay 1er Clos des Chenes|
The nose starts higher toned, but less expressive than the Chambolle. There is a little gas on the palate so I will be brief, simply noting the outstanding length.
A wide and wild nose – very nice – higher toned, pure fruit. Also some gas, though the fruit seems just a deeper shade (blacker) vs the Volnay.
|2005 Gevrey-Chambertin La Justice|
From next to the Clos de la Justice. This time there is no gas; the texture is fine, just a little mineral yet at the same time showing a little more ‘gras’ – fat. Just an edge of tannin in the finish, pure and satisfying.
|2005 Corton Bressandes|
Probably will be bottled in February. The nose is about black fruit, minerality and a very nice width. There’s quite a step-up in concentration vs the villages Gevrey, quite a step-up in the quantity of tannin too, but the tannin is ripe and well textured. Very long with a hint of cream, the nose is now quite compelling – very lovely wine.
|2005 Corton Clos du Roy|
The nose starts much more high-toned, eventually showing redder and redder fruit. Here the tannic texture is on a much finer level – certainly more sophistication. This is a much more understated package, though of similar length to the Bressandes.
If I could (today) take the aromatics of the Bressandes and the structure of the Clos du Roy – I’d be at the front of the queue for that one too!