Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier produces wines best described as desert island Pinot Noir. We're talking about the shortlist. One cannot overstate how beloved these red Burgundies really are.
The domaine lies in the heart of the village of Chambolle-Musigny, home to the most ethereal wines of Burgundy. Mugnier's gentle approach to winemaking is more synonymous with Chambolle-Musigny (Dubbed the Queen of Burgundy) than any other producer. In fact, Mugnier only produces one Pinot Noir from outside—the Premier Cru Monopole Clos de la Maréchale in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
Mugnier applies the lifted style of his Chambolle wines to his Maréchale, hailing from a village better known for dark earth and muscular structure. Maréchale lies at the southernmost end of N-S-G, coming from the Premeaux commune, described as the most elegant wines of the appellation for centuries. Here, oolitic limestone and sandy soils are wildly different from the rest of the village. This terroir plays as much a role in the elegance of the wine here as Mugnier's soft touch in the cellar.
Maréchale shows a stunning array of red fruits like pomegranate and wild strawberry, a tell-tale mocha note, and finishes with a sappy, black cherry core. Mugnier de-stems 100% during fermentation. Punching down of the cap is very gentle and done relatively infrequently, and new oak usage is minimal. The goal is to never over-extract too much tannin or color. These wines are on the paler end of the spectrum, dominated as much by their notes of roses and violets as they are by fruit. Mugnier is the essence of perfumed Burgundy.
A June 2016 visit in Burgundy meant tastings with some of my favorite storied domaines like Mugneret-Gibourg and Denis Bachelet, but it was after a lunch with Jeremy Seysses at Domaine Dujac and a beautiful bottle of 1993 Clos de la Roche that I got tipped off to something happening across the street—the new Domaine Charlopin-Tissier.
Yann Charlopin-Tissier’s background is surrounded by legendary figures. His father, Philippe Charlopin, was a student of Henri Jayer as he started his own domaine in 1978. Yann worked closely with his father starting in 2004, and then with another mentor, Jean-Marie Fourrier, before launching his own domaine, now at just 4 hectares. Like these Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey Chambertin mythic names, Yann favors picking as ripe as possible and prefers de-stemming.
Yann filled me in on his methodical and organic approach to viticulture, his excruciatingly low yields, and his disdain for talking too much about winemaking choices in the cuverie. "These wines are made in the vineyard," he would repeat. And the dirt under his nails, and muddy boot prints littered throughout the courtyard drove home that point. For me, this image greatly juxtaposed with what you find in bottle––suave and sophisticated texture, luxurious mouthfeel, supported by very concentrated ripe fruit buffered with mouth-watering salinity.
My two favorite wines of the 2020 vintage capture precisely what is so special here: The Marsannay La Montagne is surely the sleeper pick in the range, but this lieu-dit coming from the top of the slope in Marsannay where it is substantially rockier than below offers a masterclass in balance, between bold, ripe, dark fruit with powdery tannins and mineral finish. The Pernand Vergelesses Sous Frétille is one of best kept secrets in Premier Cru white Burgundy. Always a site that delivers crisp salinity and a Grand Cru-level drama. Yann’s version has a ruthless intensity of fruit with a chalky grip that is truly head-turning. This reflects his ambition for powerfully concentrated wines that still somehow have a wizardly refinement on the palate.