A Burgundy vertical of legendary Henri Gouges

Henri Gouges embodies Nuits-Saint-Georges, one of the glorious villages of Cote de Nuits in Burgundy. Gouges, along with Robert Chevillon, whom I covered recently, are the two icons of Nuits-Saint-Georges, famous for its meaty, dense Pinot Noir. Our local wine shop Vin Vino Wine finished the month of September with a bang - a vertical tasting of 8 vintages of Henri Gouges, with the focus on the area's top vineyard "Les Saint Georges" - after which the village itself was named (so famous was the vineyard that the village housing it was renamed to raise its own prestige).

Henri Gouges has the reputation of someone whose wines are "never ready", meaning they take 20 years to resolve their austere tannins and reveal magnificent complexity of flavors. In my experience, however, while I agree that patience rewards those who own Gouges wines from top vintages, these wines can certainly be enjoyable within the first decade as well.

We tasted 2001 through 2007, a 1996, and a relatively rare white 2002 "Clos des Porrets Saint-Georges" Pinot Blanc (also known as "Pinot Gouges", a mutation of Pinot Noir developed by Henri Gouges, thus named after him - very good white Burgundy at a relatively reasonable price - highly recommended!)

No big surprises with the reds, the wines echoing the reputation of the vintages.
2001 - beautiful and the WOTN ("wine of the night"). Very enjoyable now, with secondary complexities.
2002 - good as well, but still not quite mature enough.
2003 - Zinfandel like, with stewy, baked fruit. Yuck.
2004 - green, like the other '04's I've had. Pass.
2005 - classically balanced - all the elements are there, but very tight (closed) right now, meaning not showing a lot of aromatics or breadth of flavor. Needs time.
2006 - surprisingly tannic and concentrated. Exceeding my expectations for 06's which tend to be approachable and fruity. This '06 is built for the long-haul, and needs time.
2007 - a bit watery, like many other '07's I've had.
1996 - nicely mature at this point, complex, but with some off-flavors of iodine - I think with certain foods, this could be a winner. Below expectations for the very good 1996 vintage.


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