The Nuits-Saint-Georges village vineyard Les Herbues is attaining a special status, with extra appeal to the true vineyard geeks – in the most positive way. 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. Vignerons like Mathieu Moron and Pierre-Olivier Garcia of Moron-Garcia and, last but not least, Nicolas Faure, who has put this village vineyard on the Burgundy map.
Coincidently (perhaps), the producers mentioned above have chosen the same terroir: the otherwise unknown village lieu-dit Aux Herbues or Les Herbues. So let’s explore Herbues – a vineyard mostly overlooked in the literature.
Nicolas Faure paved the way, starting in the 2011 vintage. And now in 2019, we find other producers producing exciting new wines from this vineyard.
That said, let’s examine the Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues. And let’s celebrate these wines.
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.
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. (Feel free to suggest another term.)
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.
I can add one more producer – Domaine Moron-Garcia in Nuits-Saint-Georges – who makes a bit of Herbues.
It is rather peculiar that Nicolas Faure appears to be the largest producer (bottle-wise) from this vineyard, given his very small production of only around 1000 bottles per year.
A further note is that Domaine Robert Sirugue apparently also produces a bit of Herbues. Interestingly, the Sirigue family is related to the Gerbets (Berthaut-Gerbet), and Nicolas Faure’s wife is Amelié Berthaut of the Berthaut-Gerbet estate.
Herbues: The start of Domaine Nicolas Faure
The first wine from Domaine Nicolas Faure was the Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues, and its first vintage was 2011. It was made under rather rudimentary conditions, from a 0.23-ha plot located just south of the Vosne-Romanee appellation.
In total, 934 bottles were produced in that first year. In 2012, 882 bottles were produced, 1,042 in 2013 and 1,443 in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, the production was 1,155 and 937 bottles respectively. I don’t yet have the number of bottles from the 2017 vintage.
Nicolas Faure may not be the first to label Aux Herbues/Les Herbues. But he is the first to create a demand for – and even a hype surrounding – a Herbues wine.
I have been lucky to taste back to the second vintage of this wine with Nicolas Faure. The 2012 was a wine that showed the way and promise, but had not yet reached the level of quality found with the 2014 vintage – a quality that has been maintained since.
Domaine Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2012
The 2012 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues is forward and quite floral. The nose offers sweet red fruits enriched by some darker forest berries; it is transparent and organic. On the palate, lovely verve and nerve, with transparency and lightfootedness for the vintage, but still with good intensity. It’s quite developed and already offering lovely drinkability. It does not quite have the depth, focus and intensity found in the later vintages. A lovely wine nevertheless.
(Drink from 2017) – Good+ – (88p) – Tasted 15/06/2016
Domaine Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2014
The 2014 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues is a big step up in quality from the 2012. The improvement is most likely due to both two more years of viticultural work coupled with better wine-making facilities in the current cellar in Meuilly. The nose offers a symphony of red and darker forest berries – detailed berry notes – backed by a nice mineral touch. On the palate, refined and delicate with beautiful juicy fruit. It’s focused, very pure and the finish is impressively long. A gorgeous wine by any standard with a unique expression of the fruit. I love it!
(Drink from 2023) – Very Good+ – (89 – 91p) – Tasted 15/06/2016
Domaine Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2015
In 2015, quality is taken a notch further up. The NSG Les Herbues 2015 is a fantastic wine given the terroir. The nose is bursting with ripe forest berries – expressive and floral, very detailed and organic with a fine expression of minerality. On the palate, rich and generous juicy red fruit – very pure, vibrant and long – offering all the best sides of the 2015 vintage. A magnificent Nuits-Saint-Georges village in the making – so detailed and delightful. It is hard to think of a better village wine from this appellation.
(Drink from 2026) – Fine – (91 – 92p) – Tasted 15/06/2016 from cask
Domaine Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2016
Les Herbues 2016 is showing very well, revealing itself gradually after starting out with a bit of CO2. The nose offers semi-deep fruit – transparent and organic with vivid energy. On the palate, forward and with deep fruit; a classic Les Herbues and a lovely wine. While rather serious, this unfolds beautifully in the glass.
(Drink from 2024) – Very Good – (89 – 90p) – Tasted 14/11/2018
Domaine Nicolas Faure, Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2017
The 2017 Les Herbues is a slightly lighter and more charming wine than the rather serious 2016. The nose is showing delightful red and dark berry fruit, with notes of raspberries and other sweet, ripe fruits. On the palate, fine and juicy fruit, with a lovely level of ripeness and a sunny, charming feel. It does not have the density of the 2015 or 2016, but there is sufficient stuffing, with generous mid-palate fruit.
(Drink from 2026) – Very Good+ – (89 – 90p) – Tasted 29/05/2018 from cask
Domaine Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2018
The 2018 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues is showing somewhat hotter than the Aloxe-Corton on this occasion. It offers a generous nose – rich, but with fine energy and a delightful mineral note. On the palate, it is generous and almost velvety, offering fine depth. I was a bit surprised by the generosity here – but let’s wait and see. As with the 2015, it will most likely need some time.
(Drink from 2026) – Very Good+ – (89 – 91p) – Tasted 21/05/2019 from cask
The Nuits-Saint-Georges Herbues wines show a significant improvement in quality, from a promising and lovely 2012 to a truly magnificent 2015. The style in recent vintages has been consistent, and it was a treat to taste the 2012 given the very limited numbers of bottles left in the cellar – a magical tasting back in June 2016.
Moving on to the 2016 and 2017 vintages, these offer delightful drinking, although the 2016 will need more time, as it is a slightly austere wine. The 2017 is charming and forward, while the 2018 was a bit on the warm side when tasted in the summer of 2019.
Herbues gives fine terroir expression despite its unknown status – and one would really enjoy seeing more wines from this vineyard in the future. The terroir expression is perhaps not very intense, but Herbues has a fine, discrete, earthy minerality, giving the wine a vivid and airy style. And the very fine, refined tannins are giving Nicolas Faure’s wines a special and enjoyable mouthfeel.
Furthermore, the Faure wines have a uniquely airy energy and vivacity. Their drinkability is unique, giving me an almost unquenchable craving for these wines. They are truly vins d`emotion: wines I adore drinking.
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: Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues December 11, 2019
- Terroir Insight: Nicolas Faure Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues December 1, 2019
- Visit Domaine Nicolas Faure, tasting the 2018s from cask July 29, 2019
- Visit Domaine Nicolas Faure, tasting of the 2017s from cask July 12, 2018
- Visit Domaine Nicolas Faure, tasting of the 2016s from cask July 27, 2017
- The red 2016s – Impressions and first insights July 4, 2017
- Visit at Domaine Nicolas Faure – mesmerising wines June 28, 2016
- More impressions of the 2015 vintage June 19, 2016
- WineHog rating system – more than points January 1, 1990