At the heady, top shelf end of Chambolle, we have Jacques-Frederic (Freddy) Mugnier, a genius producer with legendary status. Burgundy on the world stage. If you never taste this man’s wines you will have missed out. Pinot Noir reaches the heights here, instantly distinctive, utterly seductive.
Quietly spoken and modest, Freddy takes us to taste each year in his original, small cellar and his still-shiny new cellar, which was built to absorb “Clos de la Marechale”, the 1er Cru vineyard at the southern end of the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation. At the end of 2003, “Clos de la Marechale’ reverted from a 100 year lease to Faiveley back to the Mugnier family, trebling their holdings overnight. Trebling and troubling (at the time) – quite a leap in volume and a leap in the dark economically. From the first vintage (2004) onwards, the wine has always been delicious. Plumper and bigger than his Chambolle-Musigny bottlings maybe, but exquisite none-the-less.
He insists that good wine is made in the vineyard, and that it is his job as winemaker “not to mess it up” once the grapes are harvested.
How to describe the wines? “Strawberry drenched satin”, “Velvet wrapped strawberries with a dusting of sugar”, and other over-the-top descriptions are not out of place here. “A wine does not need to be heavy to create intense sensations,” he says.
Freddy Mugnier grafted some Chardonnay onto some of his old vines at the lower end of Clos de la Marechale, “to make some white wine for my wife”. He makes very little and we are delighted to get an armful of bottles each year.
In fact, we gratefully accept our allocations from Freddy in their entirety every year. All of his wines have an ethereal beauty; Chambolle-Musigny, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuees, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos de la Marechale Rouge & Blanc, Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru, Musigny Grand Cru. Just don’t ask about Les Amoureuses.