It’s always a special experience to visit Domaine J.-F. Mugnier in Chambolle Musigny. The wines are magnificent, and Frédéric Mugnier is one of the most interesting people in Burgundy – with some very clear views and perspectives on the world of Burgundy.
There is however a challenge – as rating the wines at this stage is really contrary to Frédéric Mugniers mindset about how to appreciate Burgundies.
Last year Frédéric Mugnier decided to hold back his Musigny to let it mature in the estate cellar, before releasing the wine later when it’s more ready to drink. As for now Mugnier say that he will hold back the Musigny between 2 and 10 years … but nothing is decided yet.
This is a consequence of more and more great Burgundies are consumed in their early youth … before they show even a small part of the complexity they can offer when the are fully mature.
The focus on young wines, new vintages and the coming vintages has taken a turn for the worse, at the expense of maturing the wines in the cellar before they are enjoyed.
Tasting the 2015s in June 2016 is a part of this “new” focus, and hence my work is somehow contributing to the hype of the new vintages … that in Frédéric Mugniers view should be toned down.
So this is not going to be the usual report from an estate visit .. tasting of the new vintage ..
The hype … the focus on the non bottled wine
Regardless of the tasters competences no one can predict the path the wine will take from the time of the barrel tasting, through bottling and towards maturity.
Tasting a wine from cask is a mere indication of style and quality … but as it has been seen before – a vintage can be misjudged or even hyped .. and never show the potential it had from cask.
A good example us 2004 .. they were quite lovely from cask .. not a great vintage mind you … and they showed none of the bitter green notes, that appeared in many wines as they aged on bottle.
The wines are tasted by journalists and also professionals even before the malo is done, and presented for a wider audience at tastings in London even before they are bottled.
This means that the wines in reality are showed off before they are done and finished from the producers hand – the bottling is a very important part of finishing the wine.
So more and more people now have an “impression” of the wines before it’s even finished .. the journalists -like me – are to blame for this, as is the market that apparently demand the wines to be available for tastings before they are bottled.
This mindset moves the perspective of the age of the vintages, as the recent vintage will be perceived as 2015 in January 2017 – even before they are bottled and months before they become available on the market. The demand is shaped and even executed before the wines is ready in bottle.
In reality this also could increase the share of bottles being consumed very early … and reduce the chances of the wines are being cellared and matured by the restaurants and consumers.
Enjoying mature Burgundies …
While many collectors store and mature the wines in the cellar – quite few restaurants do the same. Many restaurants however only sel the most recent vintages – and hyped wines are gone within weeks of them hitting the wine lists.
If a restaurant price the wine rather reasonably .. a Musigny from Mugnier will only be on the list very shortly, and drunk just some month after the shipping from Chambolle.
This change has happened within the last 20 years, and as demand rises the chances of getting late releases of older wines from the estates has diminished dramatically in the same period. So now many restaurants only have the recent vintages + some leftovers from the less hyped vintages.
The 2015 vintage from Frédéric Mugnier
Well I did also taste the 2015s from Mugnier … and here are some initial impressions.
As expected the 2015 Mugniers are tremendous wines – they normally are – and while it’s quite a hot vintage the wines here are cool and fresh. Frédéric Mugnier would not call it a hot vintage, and while the wines are rich and ripe, I would tend to agree – they are better balanced and more vibrant than the 2009 vintage from this estate.
The Mugnier wines are made with a light hand, and this suits the vintage very well, as extraction in a weighty vintage like this could make some non Burgundian monsters.
The first thing I would like to compliment is the balance and expression of terroir – the wines are very transparent, and while it’s early they seem to offer all the qualities I look for in Mugnier wines … enjoyability, a refined expression of the terroirs and a delicate complexity.
The Chambolle village offer lovely depth and is quite weighty and bold for a Mugnier village .. the vintage offer plenty of stuffing – without it clouding the terroir and leaving the wine unbalanced. I love the juicy and vibrant fruit and the fine expression of minerality. A wine with a lovely potential .. a fine effort.
Moving up to Chambolle Les Fuees – a gorgeous terroir in my view and a step up in both depth and complexity. The nose offer a lovely cool juicy fruit – coulis of red berries – brought forward by a lovely filigree minerality. On the palate tremendous balance and focus for this level – very juicy indeed offering tremendous potential for future pleasure …. one would argue that with wines like this Frédéric Mugnier also have himself to blame for the early consumption of the wines … very tempting and indeed fine.
The Clos de la Maréchale is a beauty offering abundant fruit and a delicate refinement. This is in my view a rival to the magnificent Clos de la Maréchale 2010 i.e. a very fine glass of pinot. The nose is bursting with red and dark berry fruit – in a sense the perfect marriage between the Chambolle style and the Premeaux terroir. On the palate rich and generous fruit – finding the perfect balance between abundancy and refinement. It’s a beautiful wine for hedonistic pleasure .. and while it deserves cellaring like the other Mugnier wines – the production does allow for buying larger quantities and thus having a taste even when the wine is in it’s youth.
Stepping up to Bonnes Mares one is offered layers of exuberant and juicy fruit. In the nose rich, generous and delicate berry notes supported by the deep and earthy minerality of the terroir. On the palate layers upon layers of rich decadent fruit .. transparent, fresh and very balanced – a mighty and outstanding Bonnes Mares in the making.
Les Amoureuses is equally impressive while a bit more backward than the very generous Bonnes Mares. The bouquet offers deep red and dark berry fruit – a bit introvert currently (slight reduction) – supported by the intense and filigree minerality of this magnificent terroir. On the palate beautiful balance and purity … the lush fruit of the vintage is the perfect companion for this intensely mineralic terroir. This is a sexy wine .. a wine for cellaring. And 20 years from now it will offer an explosion of complexity and hedonistic pleasure .. outstandingly juicy.
Last but not least the mighty Musigny … that will be released later that the other cuvées. It somehow sum up the whole range, as it beholds all the prominent qualities of the other wines – the mineral focus of Les Amoureuses – the layred and generous fruit of Bonnes Mares and the refinement and hedonistic pleasure of the other wines. It does however take the whole thing to another level .. and underlines that Musigny is among the top five terroirs in Cote de Nuits … so complex, so intense and yet so generous. In my view Musigny is perhaps the terroir that require the longest cellaring to unfold all the magnificent complexity .. so this is an exceptional wine to cellar and cherish. It will require at least 20 years to unfold fully ..
A more formal tasting note on the Musigny 2015 will be released in 10 to 15 years – if I’m lucky enough to taste the wine after it has been matured 2 to 10 years at the domaine. À votre santé!