Truth be told, I’d been trying to get an appointment at this domaine for some time, but due to the bad timing of my visits there was never anybody to receive me – the work in the vines always came first. If I could have fixed that visit then this domaine would almost-certainly have made it into my forthcoming book, but I’d set myself a rule – if I couldn’t get to meet the people behind the wines, they didn’t make it into the book – just don’t ask me who I would have removed to accommodate them!
This domaine began life in 1973 when Henri Germain – from the same family as Domaine Château de Chorey-les Beaune – decided to set up on his own – it was easier to buy vines in those days. Henri’s son, Jean-François Germain, has now taken over the running of the domaine. The ‘signage’ is very discrete, you will have to look very close to find the name ‘Henri Germain’ – indeed you will have to walk 50 metres around the corner to visit the cellar, the walls bearing the name of a much older domaine.
Seven hectares are exploited these days; the majority is commercialised by the domaine, just a small amount of grapes from Beaune Bressandes and a few barrels of Meursault head to the négoce. Seventy-five percent of the annual (roughly) 30,000 bottles are exported; the UK is the largest market through a number of importers.
Vines and winemaking
“In the vines we work in a sensible way I would say, we always ploughed the soil – my father did the same, so no herbicides. I think our approach has been a little more integrated in the last two or three years.”
Reds are almost always destemmed “we only get two vintages ripe and clean enough each decade for whole cluster fermentations, but when we do, I’ll use up to 25%”
The garden is a mini-monopole – it doesn’t wear that badge – but despite being in the centre of Meursault it is classed as Bourgogne.
The domaine produces 75% white wine, the reds include Bourgogne rouge, Beaune Bressandes and a Meursault red ‘Clos des Mouche’ – a villages monopole of half a hectare of old vines that looks towards Volnay.
As for barrels, Jean-François’ choice varies; three suppliers are used for aging the whites; mainly Damy, but also some from Seguin-Moreau and Rousseau. For the reds, just two; Rousseau and François Frères. Barrels are always the standard 228 litre ‘piece’, no larger barrels. New wood is limited to a maximum of 20-25%.
Tasted in Meursault, 30th September 2011.
Here, at this (predominantly) white domaine, is an ample demonstration of the differences between 2009 and 2010. Brilliant as the 2009s are – balanced and highly recommended – it is the level of cut and definition of the 2010s that leave the more lasting impression.
The 2010s finished their malos in April and were racked around the 14th September 2011.
Jean-François is quietly satisfied, indeed surprised, with how his 2011 harvest went – mainly the wines were expected to offer only 12 to 12.2°, but actually came in at 12.5-13°. “I really only needed a little sugar for one of the cuvées.”
From two parcels; racked once, just before the harvest. Very pretty high-toned aromas that are supported in the manner of classic gingerbread Meursault. Fresh and involving despite a level of understatement – at least relative to the nose. The flavour holds beautifully.
When I asked if this was from the upper or lower part of the vineyard – the reply came back; somewhere in the middle, but facing Puligny! This also shows the high tones but underpinned with a core of powerful yellow-skinned fruit. This has both energy and some minerality. Bravo!
Here the nose is wide with a slightly waxy impression against reflexions of green-skinned fruit. There is a little CO2 that unfortunately hides the full potential of this wine but there is good freshness and excellent complexity. I’m sure it will be super.
A parcel that came from Henri’s wife – a Pillot of Chassagne. The nose is full and forward, sweet-lined Chassagne with a clear note of bright fruit. Mouth-filling with lovely acidity – Yum.
High-toned, quite pretty aromas. After the (2010) premier crus this is less direct and focused, yet it oozes flavour across your tongue. Quite decent acidity too.
Here is a much more frank fruit note. Fresh, with fine acidity though again there is less absolute focus versus the 2010s. Mouth-watering flavour of green-skinned fruit – lovely wine.
Pungent Meursault character edged with some higher tones – am I going to like this? Again, commendably fresh so with good energy. Strong finishing flavour – lovely!
Chassagne herbs interspersed with flashes of wood-spice. This is certainly more mineral than the Charmes, mouth-watering too. The intensity of flavour grows with the acidity delivering you into a finish of fine flavour.
Beautiful floral aroma lifts from the glass, supported by a pure red base. Round and wide yet the flavour grows; there’s a dark undertow of fruit before finishing with a mineral edge. Lovely!
Quite old vines, planted between 1960-65. Darker notes with hints of tobacco – this needs a little time in the glass to release its dark cherry fruit. A hint of fat and silk, the flavour grows in the mid-palate – again with some minerality. Very good Beaune, but if I could only take one, it would be the 2010.
Domaine Henri Germain
4 Rue Forges
Tel. +33 (0) 3 80 21 22 04
Fax. +33 (0) 3 80 21 67 82