Gaunoux is an old Côte de Beaune family whose most famous member was Henri Gaunoux—a celebrated vigneron in the decades on either side of the second war. Upon his death in 1972 his estate was divided among his family, and his two sons consolidated the vineyard parcels into two domains: Domaine François Gaunoux in Meursault, and Domaine Michel Gaunoux in Pommard.
Henri’s grandson, Jean-Michel, went to work side by side with François in 1978. In 1990, Jean-Michel split with his father and started his own domain, Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux, with vineyard parcels from his mother’s family. In 1991, he put in a new, very deep and cold cellar and aging room. In 2012, after completing enology studies and working a harvest at Saint Innocent in Oregon, Jean-Michel’s son Henri joined the domain. These days, the father and son team farm nearly six hectares, or 14.5 acres, in the villages of Meursault, Pommard, Puligny-Montrachet, and Volnay.Production is just about evenly split between Pinot and Chardonnay, and Jean-Michel is equal to either variety. The distinguishing characteristic of his wines is—and I hope you appreciate this term—their regal nature. These are self-assured wines, without need of flash or pizzazz (you won’t find big extractions, high toast oak, or the like here). They know themselves and are solidly built, pure, long, very mineral, and ageworthy.
He manipulates very little in the cellar, and limits the use of new oak to about 30% for the Premier Cru red in good years (15-20% for the whites). He racks the wine out of barrel and into vats shortly after the following vintage so that his barrels never go empty and dry out. He quit lees stirring in 2004, fearing that it encouraged premature oxidation, and subsequently found that this permitted him to cut his SO2 additions in half. He does not filter the reds. In good years, Jean-Michel takes the rare step of putting aside a certain amount of a given year’s wine to age in bottle in his cellar for later release. This allows him to offer beautifully stored bottles of his wine to clients. And the thing is, he does so at near the same prices as the current release.
Gaunoux's village Meursault is an assemblage of 4 parcels: Terres Blanches (1.15 acres) and Pelles (0.5 acres) on the south side of town, giving richer fruit and elegance; and Criots (1 acre) and Malpoiriers (2 acres) on the north side, giving a leaner, more mineral wine. The average age of the vines is 45 years.
Long, cool fermentation in barrel; 15-20% of French oak barrels are new and the rest are one-year-old. Aging/elevage: racked into neutral vats after 12 months, and then bottled.
Well developed with ripe, tropical fruit on the nose and an enticing note of honey leading to an intense and concentrated palate with well balanced acidity and a crisp, clean, lengthy finish.