In the village of Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux, the Goisot family is leading the viticultural resurgence of Burgundy’s Yonne region. Only a few kilometers southwest of Chablis, not far from the city of Auxerre, these vineyards were first prized for their superb quality by the Romans in the 2nd century A.D., long before Burgundy’s Côte d’Or was as celebrated as it is today. What makes Saint-Bris and the Côtes d’Auxerre so special is the chalky Kimmeridgian limestone soils and cool climate that they share with Chablis. Indeed, in the 19th century, prior to phylloxera, Saint-Bris was entitled to the appellation Chablis; but when the vineyards were replanted, the noble grape varieties that had made the area’s reputation were replaced by high-yielding, low-quality varietals in order to quench Paris’ thirst for vin ordinaire. The terroirs produce wines that are more refined, firm, mineral-driven, and often more thirst-quenching than wines from farther south in Burgundy.
Jean-Hugues Goisot, his wife, Ghislaine, and their son, Guilhelm, are widely recognized as the area’s finest producers. They are leading a movement of vignerons who are dedicated to low yields, sustainable farming, and natural, minimalist vinifications. They spend more time in their vineyards than their cellars, continually plowing the soil so that the roots seek nourishment deep down in the bedrock beneath the topsoil. They use natural composts. As a result, yields are naturally low (50 to 55 hl/ha for the whites, 35 to 40 hl/ha for the reds), and ripening occurs early and evenly, thanks in part to the predominantly south by southeast sun exposure of their vineyards. The land has been organically farmed since 1990 and is certified in both organic and biodynamic viticulture.
Entirely hand-harvested, the grapes undergo a rigorous triage both in the vineyards and in the cellars. The Goisots de-stem the whole of their crop, crush and press the grapes gently, and only use wild yeasts for fermentation. The whites are vinified in stainless steel and oak vats and undergo malolactic fermentation without stirring to keep the inherent crispness of the grapes. Depending on the cuvee, they age for 10 to 16 months before bottling. The reds macerate from three to four weeks with occasional pump-overs in stainless steel before being racked to barrels for malolactic fermentation. They age for 10 to 16 months before an unfined and filtered bottling.
For more information on the domaine, please see their website: www.goisot.com
For an excellent map of the region, please see: http://tinyurl.com/cy7edrj