Top-notch Pommard is one of the most cellar-worthy and brilliant wines in the Côte de Beaune, and no domaine in the village makes greater Pommard than that of Domaine Michel Gaunoux. Domaine Michel Gaunoux, first started in 1885 by Alexandre Gaunoux, has a long, enviable track record for producing brilliant Pommards (not to mention superb Cortons and Beaunes), that age gracefully and develop complexity as profound as all but the very top handful of grand cru terroirs of the Côte de Nuits. Given the legacy of great wines this estate has produced over the course of the last hundred and twenty years, it is remarkable that the wines of Michel Gaunoux are not better known, but the domaine prefers to keep a low profile while continuing to turn out their interpretation of great traditional Burgundy. But make no mistake, this is one of the greatest red wine estates in all of Burgundy.
Like many domaines in the Côte d’Or, the Gaunoux lineup started out quite modestly, and was built up over time, as opportunity allowed. The domaine began with holdings simply in the fine premier cru vineyard of Pommard “Grands Epenots”, as well as a handful of vineyards in Beaune. Some Bourgogne rouge parcels were added in the first decades of the twentieth century, and to these original bottlings the domaine added another of their flagship wines, the premier cru Pommard “Rugiens” in 1940. The only grand cru in the lineup, the Corton “Renardes” was purchased by Michel Gaunoux in 1957, which happened to be his first year at the head of the domaine after taking over from his father Henri. The current Gaunoux lineup was filled out with the addition of a few more smaller parcels in the Pommard premier crus of Les Charmots (.26 hectares) and Les Combes (.25 hectares) in the 1980s, and another .26 hectares in Les Arvelets in 1990.
Michel Gaunoux continued to run the estate from 1957 up until his untimely passing in 1984. His son, Alexandre, was still too young to take over the family winery at that time, so Madame Gaunoux ran the estate for several years with the domaine’s long-time cellar master, paying homage to her husband by keeping his name on the label. Beginning in 1990 the estate has been run by Alexandre Gaunoux alongside his mother, with the great traditional style of the wines unchanged from the days of his father and grandfather. The style of the Domaine Michel Gaunoux wines is very classic, with the wines deep, pure and soil-driven, with the proper structures of Pommard and Corton quite evident when the wines are young, as these are wines made to evolve and blossom with bottle age. The Beaune (a blend of premier cru and old-vine village holdings, but sold simply as a village wine) and excellent Bourgogne rouge bottlings are more forward than the Gaunoux Pommards or Corton “Renardes”, but are still deep, complex and sturdy wines that benefit from some cellaring as well. Fortunately, the domaine’s traditional style is not limited to the profiles of the wines, as they also do business in a traditional manner, holding back their vintages for several years prior to release, to allow the wines to become more approachable. Consequently, Domaine Michel Gaunoux is one of the few estates in Burgundy today that continues to offer older vintages for sale, and can often have as many as six different vintages available on their current price sheet.
“If you enjoy traditionally made Burgundy, then the Gaunoux wines are highly recommended as this is one of the finest domaines in all of Burgundy.” - Allen Meadows, Burghound