Géraldine Godot of Domaine de l’Arlot in Nuits St. Georges Burgundian Reflection

Géraldine Godot of Domaine de l’Arlot

© Christophe Fouquin/REA

Géraldine Godot of Domaine de l’Arlot

Géraldine Godot of Domaine de l’Arlot

© Christophe Fouquin/REA

Axa Millésimes bought the Burgundian domaine in Premeaux-Prissey in 1987 – the same year in which they bought Château Pichon Baron in Bordeaux. The two properties then formed the founding estates for the winery arm of the insurance conglomerate that now also includes Château Pibran, also in Pauillac, Château Suduiraut in Sauternes, Quinta do Noval and Quinta do Passadouro in Portugal, Disznókö in Tokaji, Hungary and Outpost in California’s Napa Valley.

A succession of winemakers

When Axa bought the domaine, its founder, Jean Pierre de Smet was still at the helm as winemaker. When he retired in 2007, Olivier Leriche who had worked at the domaine since 1998, took over. De Smet and Leriche had started the conversion to organics and biodynamics in 2000.

When Leriche left to run his own domaine in 2008, Jacques Devauges came in, continuing seamlessly with the biodynamic management of the estate. When Devauges left in 2015 to run first Clos de Tart and then Domaine des Lambrays, Géraldine Godot took over. This was the first time she showed every vintage she made at the estate at a tasting in London.

Her own reflective way

She has brought her own, very reflective and quiet way to the domaine and says: “Everything happens after a reflection, we observe each wine, step by step, day after day.” Being hurried or hectic goes against her grain and she believes the wines and the entire domaine benefit from this “manner of working.”

Challenges

During the tasting – verticals from 2015 to 2019 of four vineyards – Godot remarked on how different these vintages were and how 2016 was the most challenging with frost and very low yields: “I see that when we taste the wine, we forget the difficulty of the year. We learned that we have to be confident with the vineyard. We adapt and the vineyard also adapts. Even if some years are difficult, we can produce good wines.”

The sites

Her point was amply illustrated by these mini-verticals: Clos des Arlot, one of the two monopoles of the domaine and on the pink limestone of Premeaux-Prissey, was full of red-fruited charm. Clos des Forêts Saint Georges in Nuits-St-Georges, the other monopole, showed darker, more brooding fruit.

Godot says: “We have tannins, structure, body. This is typical of the appellation. With this wine, we know we are in the village of Nuits St Georges.” She notes that there is white and pink limestone as well as clay.

Wild strawberries

About Les Suchots in Vosne-Romanée Godot says that this is the vineyard where “we keep the elegance.” She describes its character as a wine “with more spice, more minerality, the characteristic for me is wild strawberry, always. The tannins are very elegant, in some years we also have black cherry, it is very floral, we have freshness, minerality – but it is very delicate.” What struck, however, was the energy of these wines and their firm but fine tannic structure.

Romanée Saint Vivant is the only Grand Cru owned by the domaine and Godot says: “We have the same characteristics as in Suchots: cherry, floral aromas, spices also, it is very fine of course.”

Godot has done the domaine and the vineyards proud: each wine expresses its place and personality through the prism of each vintage – this is what Burgundy is all about.

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