The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Goisot: Makes My Current Favoritte Summer Wines

I keep getting pulled back to these wines. In the decade since I first tasted them I remain incapable of dislodging Goisot from my subconscious. It would be handy if I could: selling (even the best) wines made in the Cotes de Auxerre is arduous labor. Inside the bottle, all is well, compelling even. Elemental France is present in these wines: a mineral underpinning, as clear an example of the role of limestone in wine flavor as you are likely to find. But there is currently small market for Sauvignon Blanc (or Gris) from Burgundy, for Irancy, for whites that taste completely of Chablis but can't use that recognizable moniker on the front label. I've been selling wine long enough to know that relative anonymity is often a good thing: you won't have to take out a second mortgage to buy cases of Goisot wine.

Ghislaine and Jean-Hugues Goisot did not seem happy to be selling. I appreciate this ambivalence to trade. They looked glum, or at least reserved. They looked liked people who'd rather return to their vines or cellar. But they were stuck talking to me and my posse, and we were doing our best to coax more wine from them. At first they seemed reticent to sell us wine at all. This may seem odd, but it's entirely logical. Goisot is a place that remains off the radar of label-conscious and points-hungry buyers accustomed to wines that smell like tropical fruit, not herbs. However, the French wine press and in-the-know American wine lovers know that these wines are in the top quality echelon, in spite of (or maybe because of) being in a land left behind by modern wine. Since it isn't a high yield estate, the owners also had to make sure their wines go to the right places. In the end, something we said worked, and we now have a woefully small amount of the Goisot's special wine. We'll part with it, as long as we know it's going to the right places.... All wines at this estate are certified biodynamic by Demeter.

History broke St. Bris from Chablis. Wine bureaucrats and politics tore the areas apart in the early 20th Century. Through the soil runs an unbroken ribbon of Kimmeridgean limestone, a geologic line that winds north to the cliffs of Dover. Before phylloxera, the land around St. Bris in France's Yonne region contained tens of thousands of acres of vineyard and produced much of the wine needed to keep Parisians sated. But transportation improvements brought cheap juice north from the Rhone and beyond to France's capital, reducing the need for wine from St. Bris. Following the phylloxera epidemic there was waning economic incentive to replant the vineyards in this cool region at the northernmost extreme of Burgundy, where capricious late-season weather can often lead to disappointingly thin wines when not handled properly. A few estates hold on; Goisot is the best of them.


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