2016 Domaine Michel Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis
Is this THE Frederic Magnien? The Burgundy rockstar of the Cote de Nuits? The cult producer that has been on a meteoric rise to give-it-to-me-now-no-matter-what-the-price of the Burgundy cognoscenti? The man whom every New York somm just had to have on their wine lists?
Indeed it is. And we’ve got his wine at a smashing discount! Better still, this wine isn’t some little escapade into the Haut Cotes, this is full-on, full-fledged, serious Cote d’Or Burgundy from one of its most esteemed villages. And when you open the bottle you’re going to be blown away:
The wine opens with the perfume of Chambolle-Musigny: black fruits, violets, touches of cola (no oak used, however) and wet earth. It’s a charmer of wine, unfolding its beautiful expression in dancing layers, yet never being overwhelming or crass. It’s always stately. On the palate there is good structure and tension wrapped around a core of mineral-driven Pinot fruit, reinforced just a touch with some spice from the stems. The finish is lengthy, but never heavy, giving the wine beautiful drive and energy. And because this is a back vintage, you can savor it now or cellar it at least a decade more.
Here’s the background of how I stumbled upon this Moneyballesque gem of Burgundy:
This is the story of two Frenchmen, Michel Magnien and Frederic Magnien. Michel is the dad, Frederic is the son. Dad was a Burgundian farmer for most of his life, which means that, in the classical Burgundian tradition, he farmed grapes and sold them off to winemakers. But when son Frederic came back to the family business with a fresh degree in eneology, he urged Dad to stop selling off all his beautiful grapes and to let him make wine with them instead.
Dad agreed and as his fruit contracts came up, he rolled the grapes into his son’s meticulous hands. Frederic also started buying grapes, in effect making his own micro-négociant business at the same time. Thus, Frederic was responsible for two new wineries in Burgundy: this one, Domaine Michel Magnien with the purple label you see below (yes, he named it after his father!) and Frederic Magnien, which is a white on purple label, not on offer today.
This bottle is also super special because of its fruit source. Morey-Saint-Denis is one of the prime villages of the Cote d’Or, situated between Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertin, with the majority of all vineyards being taken over to Premier and Grand Cru. Some commentators say it has the structure of Gevrey with the perfume of Chambolle – utterly the best of both worlds. And here, when you pop a bottle, you’ll immediately recognize the profundity of what you’re about to experience. As Master Sommelier Ian Cauble puts it, “I knew there had to be some serious vineyard real estate represented as well. And, yes, there is: a quartet of prime sites just below Morey-Saint-Denis’ band of Premier Crus, each one farmed biodynamically by rising-star vigneron Frédéric Magnien.” [The exact vineyards are Clos Solon, Chenevery, Les Crais, and Les Cognees].
And there you have it. Rockstar producer working with amazing biodynamically farmed fruit from practically premier cru sites. Could you ask for more? Oh yes, a great price: