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Domaine J. F. Mugnier

chateau-chambolle.jpgFrederic Mugnier has been making exceptional Burgundies at his domaine since 1985, but it's fair to say that it's a dramatically different domaine today than 30 - or even ten - years ago.  Not that quality isn't as high as it was - arguably today Mugnier is making better wines than ever before - but rather a reflection of the fact that the size of the domaine has more than tripled (from four hectares to nearly 14 hectares) with the absorbtion of Clos de la Marechale.

The Mugnier family, who have owned vines (and also the Chateau de Chambolle-Musigny, today home to Frederic and his family, as well as the cuverie) here since the 19th century, had for a long while leased those vineyards out to other growers.  In 2004 the contract with Faiveley, who had farmed the monopole premier cru for 50 years, expired and Frederic decided to take it back himself.

This of course required a major rethink as to how he made wine, and as a result, a dozen full-time employees were hired, the cellars expanded, and the cuverie renovated with a substantial number of new tanks and, of course, barrels.

I find Frederic to be one of the true gentlemen of wine, and a most thoughtful, insightful man - and I suspect one who would not suffer fools gladly.  An engineer (and later pilot) by training, he has proved himself an exceptional vigneron.  His wines are amongst the most pure, elegant and refined in all of Burgundy, and are quite different in style to those of his famous neighbours in Chambolle-Musigny.  They tend to have quite pale colours, especially in their youth, and see a mere 20% new oak each year (sometimes less).  To me, they epitomise the elegance and finesse of Chambolle-Musigny.

Having said this, it would be false to dismiss Mugnier's wines as not being ageworthy, for this is most certainly not the case.  Great vintages will improve for at least two decades in bottle, perhaps more.  The only thing wrong with Mugnier's wines is that they can be very difficult to track down, such is the demand for his limited production.

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