Hand-destemming grapes bunch by bunch – or a variation on this technique – is being tested and implemented more frequently by some of Burgundy’s winemakers.
Domaine Moron-Garcia, headed by Pierre-Olivier Garcia, was presumably the first to practice “baie par baie” (berry by berry) destemming in many of the estate’s wines, but others are following, or were even co-innovators.
Domaine Duroché uses the technique in its Griottes-Chambertin and new Le Chambertin cuvee. Domaine Marchand-Tawse hand-destems part of its Musigny. Thibault Liger-Belair and Mme. Bize-Leroy employ it to a greater or lesser extend. More practitioners could be mentioned, but this is just to illustrate the trend.
And the different names and methods for this technique are admittedly somewhat confusing. I try to use the names that I know, and the ones used by the vigneron in question. This is not a competition that I can judge… May the best wines win!
In Vosne-Romanee, Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon is taking a step forward by using the technique, which Jean-Pierre calls “tri en nuage” (cloud sorting). This was almost fully implemented in the estate’s portfolio in the 2020 vintage.
The hand destemming of grapes is not identical at all domaines; there are large variations in the share of hand-destemmed berries among the individual cuvees. Some only take the main and middle stem of the cluster while others leave the pedicels.
Some wines have 15% hand-destemmed clusters, others are 100% grape caviar – meaning single, undamaged berries that are removed from their stems by hand.
Furthermore, there are vinification differences among the estates, so there is wide latitude among the interpretations of the technique.
Guyon: 100% whole cluster and low sulphur
Jean-Pierre Guyon runs a medium-sized domaine in Vosne located on the D974. The estate has been organically certified since 2012, and Jean-Pierre is clearly both an inventive and a thoughtful vigneron.
To manage this process, we take pains to accompany the grapes, intervening as little as possible in their transformation into wine.
In tank after tank, the bunches of grapes are piled up carefully, because we work with 100% whole bunches and without the addition of sulphur. The grapes we work with are healthy, wholesome, and alive. We prepare a pied de cuve (starter) from each plot to start the alcoholic fermentation off rapidly.”
Jean-Pierre Guyon has produced a stunning range of 2020s, the best vintage from this estate so far, based on my admittedly limited tastings of other vintages.
They are strikingly perfumed, sumptuous, and with a deep, detailed scent of roses. There was also magnificent work done by the Tonnellerie Rousseau, which developed a discreet toast for Guyon’s barrels.
In 2020, Guyon vinified his wines with the “tri en nuage” technique. The whole clusters were cut up by hand, removing the central stems of each bunch while leaving – as I understand it – the pedicels, the very small stalks that hold each individual grape.
The result is an otherworldly perfume in the wines which takes them to higher levels of hedonistic joy. I have no doubt its basis is to be found in the special destemming.
I tasted the 2020s at Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon, a somewhat early sample to be sure. However, the wines have some evident qualities, and the modified vinification is farther along in 2020 (see article about the two vintages 2019s and the 2020s here).
The sulphur levels in the Guyon wines are very low, and will, for the ’20s, be below 10mg/l total – in other words, undetectable.
So, to the notes!
Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon Bourgogne 2020
A rich, generous nose – a bit vin de soif – with seductive notes of cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. Quite velvety and silky, this is drinking tremendously and will continue to do so over the next 3-5 years. In this cuvee there is 15% “tri en nuage,” and no new oak.
(Drink from 2021) – Good – (86-87p) – Tasted 15/03/2021 –
Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon Chorey-les-Beaune 2020
Chorey-les-Beaune is more and more on consumers’ radar, and I find that many of these wines offer very good value. Guyon has embraced the terroir and made a rich and quite expansive wine with an open, sensual nose. With good depth, as is found in many Choreys, this also shows fine acidity. A vin de soif? Why not! Again, 15% “tri en nuage” and no new oak.
(Drink from 2021) – Good – (87p) – Tasted 15/03/2021 –
Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon Savigny-les-Beaune Les Peuillets 2020
This is showing a delightful bouquet of raspberries, very lively, with delicate, energetic fruit, accommodating and vivid. With 50% new oak, it is perhaps best to wait a couple of years before quaffing. Relatively complex, this shows variants of strawberries and even an orange note to complete the picture. I know – I have to wait! In this cuvee, 100% “tri en nuage.”
(Drink from 2025) – Very Good – (87-89p) – Tasted 15/03/2021 –
Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2020
Herbues is the first of the wines that reveals the true baie-par-baie character, meaning an unfolding of the delicate floral aromas resulting from the fermentation of whole, hand-destemmed grapes. The rosaceous delicacy is comparable with what I have found in the Moron-Garcia wines, and this is perhaps even further enhanced by the omission of sulphur. This has an explosion of spices and perfume; I adore Herbues. In this cuvee, 15% “tri en nuage” and 50% new oak.
(Drink from 2027) – Fine – (90-92p) – Tasted 15/03/2021 –
Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon Gevrey-Chambertin La Platière 2020
This is more restrained, and a bit cruder. It’s vivid and lively, but does not truly reveal the hand-destemmed scents and flavours. This does nevertheless have notes of violets and peony – and wood; 50% new oak is used. I am wondering why this is not unfolding in my glass, but I anticipate a lovely wine eventually from the bottom of the Lavaut alluvial fan. In this cuvee, 15% “tri en nuage.”
(Drink from 2027) – Very Good – (89-90p) – Tasted 15/03/2021 –
Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon Vosne-Romanée 2020
Home sweet Vosne! This is very perfumed, exploding with pink and deep red roses. Elegant and quite cool, showing the strong side of the 2020 vintage, it is delicate and refined and has a – pardon my French – fan-f******-tastic bouquet. Coming from the lieux-dits Les Chalandins and Hautes Maizières, this has deep red fruit and is intense, yet rather light-footed structurally. In this cuvee, 15% “tri en nuage” and 35% new oak.
(Drink from 2028) – Fine – (91-92p) – Tasted 15/03/2021 –
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