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An evening with Olivier Guyot (1/6)

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In town in late January on his way to the Gaspé peninsula for a week of snowmobiling, Côtes-de-Nuits winemaker Olivier Guyot made time for a tasting – his second – with the Mo’ Wine Group. Many thanks to oenopole for making this happen.

Initially mentored by the late Denis Mortet, Guyot farms organically and biodynamically but hasn’t bothered with certifications, preferring to call his approach traditional. The vineyards are worked with a horse. The grapes are harvested manually, rigorously sorted and, for the reds, partially destemmed. All wines are made using the same non-interventionist approach: fermentation with indigenous yeasts in open wood vats; gravity flow into untoasted oak barrels, a portion of which are new for the higher-end cuvées; and maturation ranging from 11 to 18 months depending on the cuvée and the vintage. In stark contrast to many Burgundy estates, racking is avoided and chaptalization is kept to a minimum. Sulphur is used sparingly. Ditto filtering and fining, if at all.

Having now tasted through two sets of bottles from a range of vintages, I think it must be the house style to make wines that are accessible at most or all stages of their development. If there’s a downside to the wines, it’s that the prices are a little higher than ideal; then again, that’s true for most Burgundies. Also, the wines are popular with restaurateurs – quite possibly due to the accessibility factor as well as their inherent quality – so they tend to sell out fast. Indeed, of the wines we tasted, only the Marsannay blanc and 2010 Chambolle-Musigny “Vieilles Vignes” remain available for purchase, though the 2010 Marsannay “Les Favières” is slated to show up at the SAQ in a few weeks.

When asked about recent vintages, Guyot (whose contrarian take on 2008 and 2009 has proved spot on) said 2010 produced classic if not marathon wines, 2011 was uneven but, when good, very good and 2012 was exceptional, though yields were low, allocations will be tiny and prices will be high. His advice: either start saving now or stock up on more affordable earlier vintages.

Aligoté 2011, Domaine Olivier Guyot ($24.50, oenopole, 12 bottles/case)
100% Aligoté from 70-year-old vines. 12% ABV.
Clean nose: minerals, apple, fresh straw, dusty lemon. Light but fruity and quite complex for an Aligoté. The piquant acidity comes out on the long, minerally finish. A fresh and refreshing Aligoté that ranks with the best. Drink young. (Buy again? Done!)

Marsannay blanc 2010, Domaine Olivier Guyot ($46.25, oenopole, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from 70-year-old vines. Aged in a mix of new and used barrels. Olivier says this ages well, gaining an oily texture and nutty overtones with the years. 12% ABV.
Light tropical fruit (mango?), chalk, dried lemon peel and a lingering note of freshly mown field. Light to medium-bodied yet possessed of a real presence and a certain richness. The fruit is fully ripe but the wine borders on bone dry. Great minerality and good acidity. Pure and savoury, with a hint of spice on the finish. Delicious. Classic. (Buy again? If only it were a little less expensive… but a bottle or two quand même).

Written by carswell

February 12, 2014 at 19:58

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