Domaine Guffens-Heynen was formed in Burgundy by husband and wife team Jean-Marie Guffens and Maine Heynen, who left Flanders in 1976 at a young age to pursue a career in winemaking, despite having no previous knowledge. After a few years picking up the knack, the duo bought some plots on the hills of Pierreclos, and what follows today is a creative and passionate winemaking business led by two rather eccentric personalities.
There’s no point in trying to describe this domaine in the same way as the others. For one thing, the wines may easily not have the same label two years in a row. For another Jean-Marie Guffens fights against being put in any pigeonhole. ‘It only takes two or three people to agree on something which was previously controversial and now I will be against it.’ One of the things he has turned against is ‘terroir’, not because he does not think it exists but because claims on its behalf have been overdone and it has no validity, he thinks, the way most people run their vineyards. Don’t get him started on biodynamics.
This is a ‘gros taureau’, a big bull who takes no prisoners. During our meeting I described him as têtu, obstinate, to which he immediately took exception: ‘Non, je ne suis pas têtu – execrable, yes, maybe.’ He agrees he can behave badly but he is always open to new stimuli, so obstinate is not the word – and I would agree. Others who have crossed swords with him might agree with the ‘execrable’ epithet.
Bottled in their home domaine in Vergisson, the winemaking involves very low yields, careful and occasional pressings, and precise batonnage of each barrique of wine. It consists of Mâcon-Pierreclos and a small holding of Pouilly-Fuissé from several different vineyards in Vergisson.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.