Even as a disciple of the Northern Rhone, this was a relatively new name for me until a Caviste in Lyon insisted I try it in a flurry of enthusiasm and comparisons to the great old, long departed names of the Rhone valley.

His wines were compared to those of this neighbour Raymond Trollat a vigneron now long retired whose wines have become legendary expressions of Syrah. And allthough Trollat would sometimes off-handedly remark that one vintage or another was ‘a wine for a wedding’, something gulpable, always elegant, his wines now sell for huge amounts of money.

Little did those guys glugging down bottles of Trollats’ wine at local weddings in the 1980s know that it would be selling for 1000s of dollars per bottle twenty years later. Now – If you’re looking for a similar expression and philosophy but don’t want to blow a huge amount, there are few better names then Gouye right now.

Indeed, if you look up from Trollat’s house, you can see the vines and small farmyard of the Desbos family up the valley. If you look even closer, you can see the chickens, goats and perhaps Rameses, Philippe’s horse. The work they do there is I think every bit as worthy as that of Monsieur Trollat, an old friend of the family and the wines are what they are, authentic expressions of St-Joseph made in small quantities, in the most traditional of styles. No more, no less.

Phillipe Desbos of Domaine de Gouye is part of the ‘confidential wine culture’ as John Livingstone-Learmonth puts it, and although he spent some timing working with Jean-Luc Colombo, their outlooks couldn’t really be much different. Ambling in bare feet amongst the chickens, he is grounded in a stable outlook and philosophical pragmatism about the process of winemaking and business in general. One of the advantages of running a domaine of his size is there is never pressure to sell wine. There is always more demand than supply.

The domaine gets its name from the lieux-dit it sits in above St-Jean de Muzols. Gouye is seperated by a small ravine from the Pichonnier and Aubert plots that Trollat used to farm. Philippe has 3 hectares here planted between 1955 and 1975. Due to its height, the grapes can maintain freshness even in hot years like 2003. Whole bunches are utilised, and the vinification is done in a mix of concrete and wood. Pressing is completed in an old 1868 press and the wine is aged in foudre for between 9 and 24 months.

About 7,000 bottles are produced, a majority of which is St-Joseph rouge but there is a little VDP Gabouilon from a small syrah plot on the plateau. There are three versions of St Joseph, a vielles vignes rouge, a 24 mois cuvee, which is aged for a longer time in foudre, and a rare white wine. The family farm manually and use almost no herbicides as they plow by horse, a gentler practice that is also still very efficient for these hill-side vines. It’s not a pose, it just works.

Show Descriptions

Ex Vat
Inc Duty & Vat
Rhone Red2017
St-Joseph 24 Mois Domaine de Gouye
Rhone Red2018
St-Joseph 24 Mois Domaine de Gouye
Rhone Red2019
St-Joseph Vielles Vignes de Gouye
Rhone Red2020
Vin de Pays Syrah Gabouillon de Gouye