The Nuits-Saint-Georges village vineyard Les Herbues is attaining a special status, with extra appeal to vineyard geeks like me. Independent and individualist producers are exploring this terroir and making exciting wines – and in some cases even vins d’emotion.
These are vignerons who spare no effort to make tremendous wine, and while Nicolas Faure was the first to make Herbues “famous,” Mathieu Moron and Pierre-Olivier Garcia of Moron-Garcia are among the new – dare I say it – geeks on the block, making one of the most uncompromising Herbues to date.
I am very impressed by their Herbues 2018 – only the second vintage of this vineyard from Moron-Garcia, and only the third vintage for the estate as a whole. Let’s check out their Herbues.
Herbues: facts and figures
Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Herbues is a little-known village vineyard located on the border between Vosne-Romanee and Nuits-Saint-Georges. Actually, it is rather surprising to see how far south and close to the village of Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Herbues is.
The vineyard is large – 8.9123 ha4– and has until now been largely ignored. But it is starting a rise to recognition with producers like Faure and Moron-Garcia getting a chance to make wines close to Vosne-Romanée. Size-wise, Aux Herbues is larger than most Vosne village lieux-dits, aside from the important Aux Réas.
The map below shows Aux Herbues, located east of Aux Saint-Jacques with the Vosne vineyards La Croix-Blanche and Aux Raviolles just north of it, and the Nuits-Saint-Georges vineyard Aux Croix Rouge to its south.
The geology of Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues
As an addendum to my knowledge, Jean-Pierre Garcia, professor of geology at the Université de Bourgogne, has produced this geological profile of Les Herbues:
The geology of Les Herbues is somewhat different from the plots higher up the slope, as the soil contains pink conglomerate from the plain.
“Herbues” (white earth) are light soils with a low iron oxide percentage.
It is a special climat in the north of the Nuit-Saint-Georges appellation. The soils overlap the pink conglomerate from the plain.
Les Herbues is made from a thin sheet of sandy silts deposited on the foothill of the Côte de Nuits (250 metres above sea level). Its composition derives from altered and eroded limestone from the above surrounding plateaus and silts transported by cold winds during the Quaternary glacial periods.These silt and clay sheets slid and glided over the substrate during the next period of de-glaciation.
These soils are texturally clay and sandy silt, with low carbonate and silica content and some “chailles” (flints, cherts). Its porosity guarantees a good hydric content provided it is not roughly worked.
As a further note: Jean-Pierre Garcia is one of Burgundy’s leading geologist, and he is the father of Pierre-Olivier Garcia, one of the owners of Domaine Moron-Garcia.
Aux Herbues in the literature
Nuits-Saint-Georges is a special appellation with many 1ers crus (no grands crus), and hence very little focus on the village terroirs – or at least this is how it was before the appellation was discovered by the new generation of independent vignerons.
I use the term independent vigneron because these are small winegrowers without a large capital base or investors – and without a large base of owned vineyards. I have seen the term “Garage wines” or “vins de garage” used, but I sort of like independent vigneron better.
The special structure of Nuits-Saint-Georges mean that there is very little historical information about Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Herbues.
The first ownership information I have discovered is from Danguy & Aubertin,2 where some of the owners in 1892 are listed (see photo below).
Neither of the other main sources – Lavalle (1855) and Rodier (1920) – covered the ownership profile of Aux Herbues, so Danguy & Aubertin is the only look back to the past.
The present is not much more enlightened, as apparently not many are making a vineyard-designated village wine from Aux Herbues. A world-wide search of Cellartracker shows that the following producers are known to produce a lieu-dit wine from Aux Herbues.
Domaine Moron-Garcia in Nuits-Saint-Georges is also making a few bottles of Les Herbues, and it will most likely hit the Cellartracker list when the 2018s are on the market – although quantities are small: only half a barrel in this vintage.
Herbues: a star in the Moron-Garcia range
The top wine in the Moron-Garcia range is the magnificent Corton, and while the Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Charmois also is excellent, there is something special about the rare Les Herbues. The first Herbues from Moron-Garcia was the 2017, as the 2016 Nuits-Saint-Georges was a blend of different Nuits-Saint-Georges village terroirs – an excellent wine that lead me to the discovery of the Moron-Garcia estate.
Moron-Garcia has only one section in Les Herbues (cadastre no. 139) – a very small plot located in the southern end of the vineyard. The plot is 0.0293 ha, and is located alongside the RN74 (see map below). No wonder it’s a rare bird; this small plot is the size of the turning radius of a Winehog!
Aside from its plot, Moron-Garcia has another ace up its vigneron sleeve: baie-par-baie.
A bit about baie-par-baie
Moron and Garcia employ a special technique whereby some of the berries in the top-end wines are “hand-destemmed,” grape-by-grape, to ensure whole berries for the vinification. This is extremely time consuming. They must have a lot of good friends, not to mention special dedication.
The “baie-par-baie” grapes are then mixed with whole-cluster bunches, and in some cases more machine-destemmed berries.
The baie-par-baie method is unusual and very time consuming. However, the wines produced here are of both very high and exciting quality.
The baie-par-baie technique is used on the Herbues, and in the 2018 vintage 80% baie-par-baie grapes are used.
Domaine Moron-Garcia Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2017
From the NSG border with Vosne-Romanee, the Moron-Garcia Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues. This is a different wine than the Charmois – more new oak – with lovely vivid fruit. It has a more refined mineral expression, with less NSG character and more Vosne perhaps? It’s bit difficult to taste at the moment, but the lovely generosity of the north-side fruit is definitely showing. Better than Charmois 2017? Perhaps!
(Drink from 2027) – Very Good (88-89p) – Tasted 14/11/2018
Domaine Moron-Garcia Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2018
This is a special wine in more than one way: Firstly, due to some damage in the vines (roots cut by the plough), the yields here are extremely low – 15hl per ha. Secondly, it is 80% baie-par-baie, giving the wine a special sparkle. Intense and pure, with an effortless airy and vivid feel – a refined wine that will be very interesting to follow. This clearly has a strong and vivacious emotional expression.
(Drink from 2029) – Fine (90-92p) – Tasted 24/05/2019 – ?
The Moron-Garcia Les Herbues gives a very fine expression of terroir, and while it is style-wise related to the Charmois, the terroir character is quite different. It has fine, rather discrete, earthy minerality, with these lively mineral notes giving the wine a vivid and airy style. The tannins are very delicate and refined, yielding a very enjoyable mouthfeel. It’s darker and perhaps even more intense than the Nicolas Faure version, and certainly gives it a run for its money.
References & Sources:
- Jules Lavalle, Histoire et Statistique de la Vignes et Des Grands Vins de la Côte d’Or (1855)
- M.R. Danguy et M. Ch. Aubertin, Les Grands Vins de Bourgogne (1892)
- Camille Rodier, Le Vin de Bourgogne (1920)
- Les Climats Du Vignoble De Bourgogne – Tome (1), l’Association pour l’inscription du Vignoble de Bourgogne
- Terroir Insight: Moron-Garcia Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues December 22, 2019
- Domaine Moron-Garcia – tasting the 2018s from cask July 16, 2019
- Domaine Moron-Garcia – without compromise .. March 20, 2019
- WineHog rating system – more than points January 1, 1990