Clos de la Maréchale is a Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er cru and the largest monopole in Burgundy … surpassing both Clos de Tart and Clos des Lambrays in Morey-Saint-Denis.
During many years Clos de la Maréchale was under the radar of many Burgundy collectors, but when Frédéric Mugnier of Domaine J.-F. Mugnier took over the vinification it soon became the available way to taste some more of the Mugnier magic.
Clos de la Maréchale is however much more than easy access to Mugnier delights … so let’s go to the very southern end of Nuits-Saint-Georges or to be more accurate the Premeaux.
The resurection of Premeaux
Clos de la Maréchale is officially a part of the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation, but more precisely it’s the southern end of the Premeaux appellation – and located on the border towards Comblanchien.
The Premeaux appellation has been revived over the last couple of decades with Domaine l’Arlot envigorating the monopoles Clos des Forets and Clos de l’Arlot, Domaine Prieure Roch reviving Clos des Corvees and later Les Argillieres, and subsequently Louis-Michel Liger-Belair acquiring Clos des Grandes Vignes.
In reality the vineyards of Premeaux are now more in focus than most of the vineyards in the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation itself and many of these wines are priced above the wines from the classic Nuits-Saint-Georges vineyards south of the village.
Clos de la Maréchale the vineyard
Clos de la Maréchale is a true clos surrounded by stone wall on all four sides. The vineyard is 9.76 ha according to the Mugnier website – it comprises two cadastre plots – the vineyard plot – cadastre no 1 with an area of 9.6251 ha, and the small plot used for the building in the top of the vineyard – cadastre no 2 – with an area of 0,0753 ha.
There is a third plot cadastre no 3 – (0.1686 ha) – outside the wall with forest that also is registered as Clos de la Maréchale – this plot is clearly not a part of the vineyard – but as in the old Cadastre from 1827 it seems to have some kind of connection to the vineyard.
Frédéric Mugnier produces both red and white Clos de la Maréchale, and sometimes a second red wine called Clos des Fourches.
Mugnier began to vinify the wine in 2004, and before this the vinification was done by Faiveley – more about the historic details of Maréchale below.
The early history of Premeaux Clos de la Maréchale
There is not much information about the vineyard before Lavalle in 1855. Frédéric Mugnier did however find a document from 1833 in ¨L’almanach du commerce de Paris¨ referring to Clos de la Maréchale as the property of the Champy family.
This could well refer to Maison Champy – then a large negociant in Beaune – but I have no detailed information about this ownership. According to Clive Coates5 the stone wall – surrounding Clos de la Maréchale today – was built by Louis Champy in 1820s – so consistent with the ownership information.
Moving forward to Lavalle1 (1855) and the 18612 classification the vineyard we know today as Clos de la Maréchale was called Clos des Fourches.
Lavalle classified Clos des Fourches as a Premiére Cuvée in Premeaux after the vineyards Aux Didiers, Aux Foréts, Aux Corvées and Aux Pagets that was classified as Hors Ligne. Strangely Lavalle quotes the area of Clos de Fourches as 15.2025 ha in 1855 … 5,44 ha more than the current area.
Looking at the cadastre map from 1827 – see below, there was one large plot or Clos des Fourches – cadastre no 228 – aside from a small plot in the top of the vineyard and a tiny plot inside the vineyard – i.e. the map shows a vineyard resembling the Clos we know today, so it’s hard to explain why Lavalle mentioned an area of 15 ha.
According to Frédéric Mugnier Clos de la Maréchale has been a monopole at least since 1827 – i.e. at least since the first cadastre was made for Premeaux. This is consistent with the layout of the cadastre map, as this suggests only one owner.
Moving on to the 1861 classification2 the classification is a more nuanced or diversified view of the quality of the climat – some parts classified as 1re Classe others as 2e Classe and lastly some as 3e Classe – see below.
The area in the 1861 classification2 is 9.80 ha very close to the current 9.76 ha – indicating that Lavalle’s 15 ha was an error. The cadastre numbers seem to have been changed between 1827 and 1861, and while there was only two plots mentioned in the 1861 classification – they are both large enough to be classified in sections.
While the precise location of the two cadastre plots mentioned is unclear, the map below – also from the 1861 classification – shows that it’s the northern end of Maréchale that was classified as 3e Classe, while the upper part was classified as 2e Classe. The middle and the bottom part alongside the road was regarded as the best terroirs and classified as 1re Classe. So a bit of a mixed picture in the 1861 classification … not following Lavalle’s uniform evaluation of the quality
Clos de la Maréchale – the mysterious name
It’s still a mystery how, when and why Clos de la Maréchale got the name. The name seems to refer to a Maréchal de Champ (Sergeant major general) – or rather to the wife of a Maréchal de Champ.
This has lead to a lot of speculation about the name coming from the Marey-Monge family – refering to Guillaume Stanislaus (or Stanislas) Marey-Monge who was ´a high ranking officer in the French army9.
I have not been able to verify this story – looking at Lavalle we see one owner mentioned – Etienne Lemire – who supposedly owned 3 ha in 1855. Etienne-Auguste Le Mire (1792 – 1864) 10 was the father of Delphine Le Mire, who was married to Alphonse Marey-Monge (1818 – 1877)8. It is therefore likely, that Delphine Le Mire inherited Clos des Fourches when her father passed away in 1864. This does not prove a direct Marey-Monge ownership – but nevertheless Clos des Fourches was owned by the wife of Alphonse Marey-Monge.
So there is evidence that suggests that the Marey-Monge family – or rather the wife of Alphonse Marey-Monge owned Clos de la Maréchale. There is also documentation showing that the brother of Alphonse Marey-Monge was in fact a high ranking officer. And that he was in fact promoted to Maréchale de champ in 184310. But there is no evidence that confirm that the name Clos de la Maréchale is a reference to Guillaume Stanislas Marey-Monge.
On the contrary Frédéric Mugnier has found documents from 1833 … 30 years earlier … that mention the vineyard as Clos de la Maréchale, thus proving that the name of the vineyard could not be related to Guillaume Stanislas Marey-Monge or indeed the Lemire ownership.
So the name Clos de la Maréchale remains a mystery .. unless another Maréchal de Champ turns up in the history of the Champy family.
Nevertheless the vineyard seems to have been known under two names for a period of more than 50 years … Clos de la Maréchale and Clos de Fourches.
The “official” change of name seems to have happened under the Mugnier ownership as Danguy & Aubertin3 mention the vineyard as “Clos des Fourches ou Clos Maréchal”. Please note that it’s Clos Maréchal and not Clos de la Maréchale. And in Rodier 1920 the vineyard was still mentioned as “Clos de Fourches ou Clos de la Maréchale”.
The ownership history of Clos de la Maréchale
The first known owner was Champy – as Clos de la Maréchale according to Frédéric Mugnier was mentioned as the property of the Champy family in a document from 1833 (l’almanach du commerce de Paris)
Lavalle mentioned one owner in 1855 – Etienne Lemire – who supposedly owned 3 ha in 1855. This information is however not consistent with the Clos being a monopole, and could well be an error from Lavalle’s side. Lemire or Le Mire must have acquired the vineyard from Champy between 1833 and 1855.
Etienne-Auguste Le Mire (1792 – 1864) 10 was the father of Delphine Le Mire, who was married to Alphonse Marey-Monge (1818 – 1877)8. Presumably Delphine Le Mire inherited Clos des Fourches when her father passed away in 1864.
Alphonse Marey-Monge passed away in 18778 and it is likely that Clos Maréchal could have been sold around this time – although his wife Delphine lived until 1910.
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