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Episode 8: Grands Crus and Grands Vignerons




This transcription was created thanks to: Luke Burrows, David Hatzopoulos, Alissa Strunk, Jordan Binotto & Ali Massie.


Brenna (Narration): Hi This is Brenna Quigley, your personal geologist and terroir guide. Join me on a roadtrip through the geologic history of your favorite wine regions around the world. This is Roadside Terroir…


Season 2: Burgundy’s Côte-d’Or is made possible by our season 2 partners: Becky Wasserman and Company, La Paulee, and Acker Wines 


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Please, don’t drink and drive... and remember to keep your eyes on the road. 


This episode contains explicit language.

Part 1: Vougeot – Cellar with Mugneret-Gibourg, Vougeot vineyard stop, Meo-Camuzet

1.1 Vougeot Vineyard with Marie-Andrée


Female Voice: On the right…


Brenna (Narration): In our last episode we explored the relationship between terroir and magic throughout the village of Vosne-Romanée. And while Vosne-Romanée is of course the poster child for this discussion, the central core of the Cote de Nuits is filled with examples of vineyards that transcend reality – the leaders, of course, are the Grand Crus, which extend from Vosne-Romanée to Gevrey Chambertin…


Today we’ll continue our journey through Grand Cru Territory while traveling through the villages of Vougeot, Chambolle-Musigny, and Morey-St-Denis…


Female Voice: Here we turn, à gauche.


Brenna (Narration): We begin, back in the car with Marie-Andrée Mugneret driving north along the Routes des Grand Crus. As we leave Vosne-Romanée, there are village vineyards on our left and Bourgogne vineyards on our right, and then suddenly, as we cross the border into Vougeot, there is Bourgogne on our right…and Grand Cru on our left…


Here’s Paul Wasserman…


Paul Wasserman: So it’s a village that’s basically synonymous with its greatest vineyard - the Grand Cru of Clos de Vougeot. Which is of huge historical importance for Burgundy, because of its relationship with Citeaux.


Brenna (Narration): Vougeot is a tiny village composed almost entirely of one gigantic Grand cru, the Clos de Vougeot…Within Vougeot there are 3 ha of village vineyards, 12 ha of 1er cru, and 51 ha of grand cru Clos de Vougeot– crowned appropriately with a castle right at the top.


And here’s Daniel Johnnes…


Daniel Johnnes: Clos du Vouegeot is sort of a beast. The tannins are rather severe, austere angular, perhaps they soften over time, but I find that they often don’t. There are some producers who’ve been extremely successful with Clos Vougeot, wines I love - such as the Mugneret sisters, Jean-Claude Méo makes a wonderful Voegout, Hudelot-Noellat…  and the greatest historically for me has been René Engel, no longer exists, since his death.

Brenna (Narration): There are several distinct lieu dits throughout the vineyard that most everyone agrees vary greatly in terms of quality, and although it remained a monopoly for over 100 years following the French Revolution,there are over 80 owners within the Clos du Vougeot today – adding to the variability you may find in the wines.


On our left, elaborate metal gates spell out the names of revered and historic producers – marking the entrances to each parcel in a quiet, yet grand display…


Marie-Andrée Mugneret: It’s um, a very old door, it’s for the plots which has an access here. Of course. We can imagine a long time ago, when they arrive with horses - it’s the place to come inside.


Brenna (Narration): We drive up the slope and into the parking lot of the Castle – Marie-Andree’s parcel of Vougeot is just in front of the castle – the area widely considered to be the best part of this big and variable vineyard…


Marie-Andrée Mugneret: So, our plot of Clos Vougeot is 18 rows. You can see from this side it’s real black clay, and for me I think this parcel is magic. Except for the effect of frost or hail, production is very consistent. We don’t have any big problem with this soil here. I don’t know if it’s the plants that my father choice when he replanted in 1953 and 1954 or it’s the terroir, but it’s a very nice place to work - I love this place. And especially in the morning when you have the sun rise with the color of the castle. I love this place. And if you want, we have grass we can walk a little.


And there is a legend which say that there is a tunnel between Chateau du Clos Vougeot and Abbey de Citeaux… have you heard about Abbey de Citeux?


Brenna: No.


Marie-Andrée Mugnert: It’s a very famous Abbey where the Cistercian monks are. And, the Abbey is on the east part of the Côte d’Or maybe around, I think it’s 15 kilometres, 20 kilometres and the legend says that we have a tunnel between the Clos de Vougeot and the Abby, because first part of the Clos de Vougeot was built by the Cistercian and if you visit the castle you have the old press. It’s very interesting.


Paul Wasserman: So Cluny was pretty much the center of Europe, the abbeys, like the foundational Abbys, Cluny was one of them founded in 910 - started to develop sister Abbeys all around Europe. So they became orders. Cluny was, according to what I read was probably one of the wealthiest of those orders in the Middle Ages, with wealth comes a certain amount of laxness I guess, and a lot of monks were complaining that they had forgotten the principles of the church which were to live modestly, to work hard and to pray a lot. So a few of them branched out and founded the Abbey of Citeaux, and the original thought of Citeaux was to return to modesty silence prayer and manual work. And so they founded Citeaux in 1098 and it was a few kilometers east of Vosne-Romanée and Vougeot. Basically in what was pretty much a swamp, which was pretty hard conditions. I beleive they tried to grow wines - didn’t succeed but very quickly they were given land in Vougeot in like 1110 or something like that. It probably took them like two to three centuries to piece the whole thing together but they started planting vines, so they founded what was the winery at the time. Basically the cellar was built in the 12th century - there's four huge presses, two of them have been dated back to the 14th century. And then the castle was built beginning in 1550, or 1551 and just by the size of the presses you can see the magnitude of what was produced, certainly, even though it is debated, I think most people agree that by the 1400’s the Clos de Vougeot was pretty much complete the way it is.


Marie-Andrée Mugnert: And if you want we can walk a little, and if you want to have the view of the castle…


Brenna: Oh wow!

Marie-Andrée Mugnert: You see, something interesting… when we didn’t work the soil for a long time all the limestones are going to the surface. If you come after the labor the view is the black clay, but in fact the concentration of limestone is important here. So very good training, and you know our father was medicine doctor. He was an ophthalmologist and when he was a medicine student he decided to buy this parcel of Clos de Vougeot because his grandfather had a parcel of Clos Vougeot and the children had to sell the parcel to pay the tax after the death of his grandfather. But this grandfather gave to my father a barrel of Clos Vouegot of his birth year, and it was 1929. 1929 was a magic year, he said it was the vintage of the last century. But my father said okay, and I have one day to buy a plot and in 1953 he had the opportunity to buy this parcel by auction. Each time I’m in this parcel I say thank you very much because it’s a very nice place for this plot and I love the wines that we produce in this parcel.


Brenna: Thank you so much for taking us here.


Marie-Andrée Mugneret: It’s a lovely place. My wedding was in there.


Brenna: Really!?


Marie-Andrée Mugnert: Yes, yes.

1.2 Cellar with Mugneret-Gibourg


Brenna (Narration): We head back to the cellar where we’re joined by Marie-Christine, Marie-Andrée’s sister. 

[Backgrounds sounds of glasses clinking]


Brenna (Narration): Daniel visited their father, Georges Mugneret, on his very first visit to Burgundy back in 1982.


Daniel Johnnes: I hold a special place in my heart with that Domaine, because of how it influenced my career and my life… but I don’t hold on to just memories when I taste something. The wine itself, they are making such extraordinary wines… You know there’s no gender in the world today, but in Burgundy it’s just extraordinary how many women are taking the role of leading the domaines and making great wine. I think the world has changed into a much better place. So Marie-Andrée, Marie-Christine I think that the wines just got better and better each year. There is a purity of fruit, there’s a sensuality of the wines,  texture, aromatic complexity - makes wines so seductive but not simple either.


Marie-Christine Mugneret: Welcome in the cellar. Where we finish the life of the wine.


Brenna (Narration): Together, we taste through their wines in Nuits St Georges, Vosne Romanee, Echezeaux, Chambolle-Musigny, and of course, the Clos de Vougeot…while the sisters tell us the story of the Domaine’s past, present, and future…

Marie-Christine Mugneret: So at the beginning, Mr. Mugneret, our grandfather married Ms. Gibourg and it was the beginning of the Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg because they bought the family house and 3 hectares of Vosne-Romanee just close to the house and winery and then they bought two parcels of Echezeaux, Echezeaux Les Rouges du Bas and Echezeaux Les Quartiers de Nuits and they bought a parcel of Bourgogne generic. It was 1934. They had only one son, George Mugneret. When he was young, his parents said him, no viticulture and wine it’s too hard work. You have to have another job and he said I want to be a doctor. Wow. So, he began the studies of medicine and he continued to love wine, vine. So, he was medicine doctor and winemaker, so he was very busy. Our grandparents had only one son, George Mugneret. So, our father had two daughters: Marie-Andrée and I. And so we have no brother. We were alone. When our father passed away he was young, 57 years old. I was a chemist at this moment and my sister was a student in Dijon for enology. So, I decided to stop work in chemistry and I decided to work at the domaine. We were alone, but we had to continue. So, it was a very big challenge. You can imagine at this moment in 1988, few women were at the domaine because it was really a job for men. Now, it’s totally the opposite and we are very happy with that. And to continue the story of the family, I was the oldest sister, so I had two daughters and then my sister, Marie-Andrée, has two daughters too. So, only women, two sisters and four daughters. Now, the young generation is interested to work with us at the Domaine, so we are very happy with that. We have boys, but on the next next generation because my daughter Lucy has three children: a girl first and then two boys. And for Marion, my niece, two boys. So, now the color is totally changed. Now it’s boys but for the future. 


Brenna: Boys who will learn from strong women which is very cool


Marie-Andrée: And the destiny for us was different and we didn’t ask any question. We had a mission: it’s to continue the work of our grandparents and father. Never mind if you are a man or a woman, I think that the motivation is the most important. And a Clos Vougeot.


Marie-Christine: So, Clos Vougeot…


Marie-Andree: When I explain to you that it’s one of my favorite plots. 


Marie-Christine: Yes, but the Clos Vougeot is really consistent. There is no…uh.


Marie-Andree: It’s a very resistant parcel.


Brenna: Like you said it’s very concentrated and it’s very strong, but it’s very linear at the same time like it kinda constricts and continues in a really beautiful way.

Brenna (Narration): The Mugneret sisters are often cited as making one of the best expressions of the Clos de Vougeot – one that recognizes its serious and robust potential, while also acknowledging the softer, more delicate side of the vineyard…


Daniel Johnnes: What I consider a successful Clos du Vougeot would be Clos Vougeot that has typically a dark fruit character. There is still going to be structure to it but somehow like the depth of fruit, the concentration of fruit, the dark berries are shrouded in tannins, but it’s almost like the tannins have been polished to a point where it’s well integrated into the overall balance of the wine. 

1.3 Méo-Camuzet on Clos de Vougeot 


Brenna (Narration): After thanking the sisters for their time and generosity…we head just up the road to the cellar of Jean-Nicolas Meo of Domaine Meo-Camuzet to learn more about the history of the Clos de Vougeot and to happily (collect?) another taste of this variable Grand Cru…


Méo-Camuzet is yet another one of the truly great domaines of Vosne Romanee, and, another producer known for consistently crafting an excellent expression of the Clos de Vougeot…this makes sense given their historic connections to the vineyard and its prestige…


Jean-Nicolas Méo: It’s interesting because of course our family is really linked to the Clos Vougeot as you may know. The fact that Jean Camuzet was the owner of the castle before donating it to the country. Actually not really donating it, sending it for a low price. It is interesting because it’s been there for 900 years and one of the questions about this building is why is it built there? I mean it doesn’t really make sense. It should’ve been more in the center of the Clos or it should’ve been lower on the slope. No one really knows why it’s there. I’ve heard explanations. First of all maybe the perception of the terroir was maybe not the same then than now. So that could be a possibility and so one explanation I really like is that the Clos Vougeot was actually smaller than at the foundation but the building was actually built then and was at the center of the then holding. So, I like of course this explanation because that means we are in the heart of the original piece of Clos Vougeot, but I’ve heard this hypothesis. I’m not sure there is a lot of historical evidence to support it. Where you have hard evidence though, is that it’s built on rock, on bedrocks. So, there is no cellar so to speak in the Clos Vougeot now and because basically it’s built on the bedrock. It’s too hard to dig and that leads me to the terroir of our piece. And being next to the castle we have a very shallow terroir there. And we have another piece that is further south in Les Grands Maupertuis. Grands Maupertuis is next to Grands Echezeaux. And there you have layers. I mean it’s sedimentary and you can dig two meters no problem. It’s really different and I think that we should perhaps have the idea that the Clos Vougeot is very diverse. And it’s not only top but it’s north, south, east, west and it’s very diverse. I’m used to saying that probably it would make sense to make a blend of everything and that the monk’s were working that way. And it’s well known they made different cuvees and probably because they had different qualities, but what is true to that day I haven’t seen any recipe from the monks. Nothing. They have not left anything saying well you know for the great wine this piece and it’s going to the big cuvée. There’s to my knowledge nothing. 


Brenna (Narration): The founder of the domaine, Etienne Camuzet, was a political figure in the early 1900s who played a huge role in helping to classify the grand crus of Burgundy.


Jean-Nicolas Méo: So he was very very much instrumental in getting the process done. And also at the time what was interesting is that in the Versailles Treaty, the peace treaty with Germany, there was a huge economic part in that treaty and the appellation contrôleé were part of it. And this is interesting because this is of course the beginning of international recognition of appellation controlée. This was a very long and cumbersome and complex process but actually that was a very important landmark. I think he was in favor of having the biggest area possible for Grand Cru. That’s what we have in our family history and legend, let’s say. Which shows that he really understood what’s at stake there. So, he pushed for a classification that would be generous. 


Brenna (Narration): Jean-Nicolas pours us a taste of his 2020 Clos de Vougeot…

Jean-Nicolas Méo: So, Clos Vougeot and this would be the blend. Normally, our Clos Vougeot is 90% let’s say 90, 92% (inaudibly says name of climat) and 8, 10% Grands Maupertuis. Clos Vougeot is more sturdy of course but our part of Clos Vougeot I would say has a finesse that is not necessarily the mark of other Clos Vougeot. Clos Vougeot can be an imposing wine. I may have a Clos Vougeot in this vintage that is a bit more severe than our usual Clos Vougeot. But this is 20 and it is still a solid wine. So what we know is that there has been a commitment to quality for a number of years and decades and this is arguably why Clos Vougeot might be today one of the best known appellations if not the best known appellations. I didn’t say that it’s the best wine, but it’s really widely known and there is this consistency throughout history and this commitment and lack of variation.


[Sounds of door closing, talking fades out…]

Part 2: Chambolle Vineyards, Charles

2.1: Chambolle vineyards / Driving with Paul Wasserman

Brenna (Narration): Just north of the little appellation of Vougeot is another small village with an impressive pedigree – Chambolle-Musigny.


Daniel Johnnes: There is no wine in Burgundy that hits all the chords for me personally like the great wines of Chambolle-Musigny. It has the incredible floral aromatics. It has the red to slightly deeper colored fruits. I think that they achieve the greatest texture for me, that sort of silkiness that just massages the palate and stays on the palate rather than attacks the palate like a Clos Vougeot for example could.


Brenna (Narration): Chambolle consists of 93 ha of village, 61 ha of 1er cru, and 26 ha of Grand Cru. The Grand Cru is split between two vineyards – Musigny along the southern border, and Bonnes Mares at the northern border.


Daniel Johnnes: So, there is no question that Musigny is the, you know, emperor of the village of Chambolle. Yet, Les Amoureuses is not far behind. 


Brenna (Narration): Geologically…Chambolle could be divided into a few distinct sections… The southern side, known for Musigny and Les Amoureuse,  is characterized by the comblanchien limestone and a complicated network of faults. These faults often juxtapose the hard combl limestone against some softer, upper jurassic marls – these softer marls erode away from the fault planes, leaving them exposed and visible on the surface…


Musigny – lies primarily onto the Comblanchien limestone, and towards the top of the slope a big pocket of grezes litées seems to obscure a larger fault that splices in some softer upper jurassic marls at the top of the slope…


Paul Wasserman: Musigny is many people's favorite Grand Cru and it's very austere. I think we often call it Cistercian. They’ve got very little decoration. There’s no ornament. It’s all about light and discretion and simplicity. It’s a very intent wine, but it’s not a big wine. It’s not a powerful wine. The strange thing is that right next to it, it touches it, is Amoureuse. And it’s opposite. 


Brenna (Narration): Just below Musigny, things get complicated as a series of subparallel faults slice through les A – giving (??) this special vineyard a complicated patchwork of Comblanchien limestone, white oolite, Premeaux limestone, ostrea acuminata marl, and maybe even a sliver of crinoidal limestone at its base… and, on top of that, there is extensive evidence of human activity as well. According to FV, just near the Southern edge of Les Amoureuse is the Perrieres de Vougeot – the site of a major, ancient quarry that served as the source of the stones for the winery and cellar of the Chateau de Vougeot…


Paul Wasserman: And that is a very fruit driven, generous…not generous in size, but giving, embracing wine. That makes you think of its name Amoureuses — the earth is loving. It wasn’t meant for the wine, but it couldn’t carry a better name — in love. And that’s how it feels. You taste it and everybody goes ooh and ah and oh my god this is so beautiful. And it’s not that it doesn’t have a tannic structure. It’s that it’s often invisible and the strange thing is that despite that absence of apparent core it can age incredibly well.


Brenna (Narration): The central part of Chambolle is made up of village and 1er Crus, and is clearly influenced by the combe that holds the small village…the geology is dominated by the Premeaux limestone here –which has been faulted by horizontal movements associated with the combe…the village itself is nestled at the base of dramatically steep cliffs of this hard limestone at the mouth of the combe… rocky alluvial fans have been ejected from the valley, creating a patchwork of transported and residual soils on the lower slope…


Paul Wasserman: I think Chambolle is probably the village which on a small scale you notice that combe thing the most. The northern part of Chambolle is almost Morey in taste and the southern part of Chambolle is an entirely different animal to anything else on the Côte in a way.


Brenna (Narration): The northern section of Chambolle is decidedly different from the southern part. One particularity Françoise Vannier points out, is that many sections of the Premeaux limestone here are filled with little nodules of chert, called chailles – remember– we saw something like this on the Hill of Corton too. Over time, the Premeaux limestone weathers and erodes away, leaving behind a red, decarbonated clay. And while this quartzose phenomenon does not seem to continue into the neighboring village of Morey…much of the rest of the geology does…


The other Grand Cru vineyard of Chambolle is the illustrious Bonnes Mares...a strong foil to its southern counterpart…


Paul Wasserman: The third of the great vineyards in Chambolle is Bonnes Mares or up against Morey St. Denis. And we go to an entirely different delivery or in a powerful grand cru. One that has a ridiculous amount of talent in it. You know: Mugnier, Dauvinet, Dujac, (..), Cyprien Arlaud, and of course did I say Roumier. Wow, Roumier is probably the iconic wine in his cellar. Bruno Clair, absolutely, is in Bonnes Mares though on the Morey side. And of course Drouhin makes a great Bonnes Mares. Morten. Vougeraie. There’s really super talent in the vineyard.


Brenna (Narration): Whereas the geology of Musigny and Les A is complex, faulted, and obscured by human activity…Bonnes Mares is a solid block, literally. According to F’s maps, Bonnes Mares is bounded by faults at the top and at the bottom of the vineyard that come dangerously close to aligning with the borders of the climat … BUT – even though there don’t seem to be major faults within the vineyard, that doesn't mean the geology is monolithic.


Paul Wasserman: It’s another lesson in geology. There’s a path that cuts it diagonally from the Southeast corner to the Northwest corner. And vaguely, but not exactly, on top of the path upslope is terres blanches, white soil, and on the bottom is terres rouges, red soil. And you can literally take a handful of earth from each and see the difference. It’s so obvious. Most people have rows from the bottom to the top, so they actually have both terroirs. And in a way most Bonnes Mares is an assemblage wine because of that. Some people vinify separately. The most famous case is Christoph Roumier, who actually bottles a few bottles separately of the terres blanches and the terres rouges and then many more of the blended version. And the combined wine is usually better than each of its parts. 


Brenna (Narration): The top of Bonnes Mares is the soft, striking ostrea acuminata marl – which produces white soils that sparkle with little oyster fossils…just below it is the harder, also fossiliferous, crinoidal limestone that dissolves away into rich clay. And just below that, and the fault that coincides with the lower border of the vineyard, are the deeper red clays associated with the cherts unique to this part of Chambolle.

2.2 Charles vineyard with sheep


[Driving sounds]


Brenna (Narration): As we make our way through the village of Chambolle we set out to check in with Charles Lachaux one last time – we hop back into his truck and continue up the hill just above Musigny to one of his favorite spots – a little village vineyard called Clos de Danguerrins…


Jerusha: How do you spell Danguerrins?


Charles Lachaux: DANJUERRINS. D-A-N-J-U-E-Double R-I-N-S. G.


Brenna (Narration): This naturally isolated vineyard has a very special and unusual treat waiting for us…a small flock of sheep…


Charles Lachaux: Can you open the gate please? We have some sheeps in the vineayrd.


[Sounds of gate opening and closing]


Charles Lachaux: So it's all in, uh… (unclear) because it's a small vineyard. And we did this architectural thing, which has been designed by my brother, who's an architect. So the bottom is the sheep shelter. At the top the roof is a is a terrace, a vineyard which was the delicacy of the team as we everything has been replanted by hand. We did put a fence all around, all by hand, so it took weeks. The team came in the weekend to build the stairs, by hand, so there are many things about this vineyard which are really important to us. 


Brenna (Narration): Other regions around the world use sheep in their vineyard to naturally manage cover crops while simultaneously fertilizing the soil. But the Côte d'Or poses a pretty unique challenge – when you only own a few rows of various vineyards scattered along the cote – how do you manage a flock of sheep? Especially when your neighbors may or may not share your farming philosophies…


Charles Lachaux: Here, we have seven sheeps.


[Sheep sounds]


Charles Lachaux: If we walk closer, they will run. So, there is one, one male, Albert, which is in the middle. He has six ladies around. So there's Paulette, Artance, Animun, Babette and we got two births last spring for Easter, Josephine and Madeleina. If we go on the terrace they will get closer, they will think we have some food. One is always coming through - it's Paulette. He's the only one with some small horns, the one on the right. It's the less high of them. Albert and Babbette - Babette is the fat one - are the two scared. The guy is the most shy. He's always scared. And, uh, it's the adult size. It's (unclear name of sheep) sheeps, so they're not too big. So we don't compact much. And the same we’re discovering the élevage work with the team because we have to cut the wool in the summer. We come every week to give them a little bit of water. But it's a very rustic they don't need much care. When they do have lamb, they take care of it themselves.


Brenna: So they live here. And you occasionally take them to other…


Charles Lachaux: We take them out when the budding is starting. And as it's large, but not so much, they can easily eat everything because as you see the vineyard is cool, we are still in the shade. So it's a very cool place. So last spring we tried to put them to some other vineyards. I have a project that will start maybe this spring, there is a new berger, a girl taking care of some lambs, who just moved to Burgundy last year, she was doing that in the mountains. She was in (names village, unclear). So we have the project to do a on 100% of the Domaine, from harvest to debudding. So I showed her the vineyard and she will normally get enough sheeps. And she will put like 10 here, 20 here, 3 there, depending on the vineyard size and twice a year. Just a little electric fence for the time they're here. So they will stay within five, six days. So they will do the mowing in winter. But they do the fertilizing at the same time and they receive what they mow. So as you saw there are many tall herbs. So at this time, it would be the ideal to have everything mowed nicely. You get the roots and it's thinner so it would be better to regrow in the springtime and you have all this natural fertilizer. So we'd love to do it twice - one just after harvest and one before the debudding. We cannot do it ourselves. It's really a job. It's a lifetime job.


Brenna: Is there anyone else doing that bringing animals into the vineyard?


Charles Lachaux: A few when they have a Clos next to the domain like (unclear). Some have chicken or one or two things. But to develop with so many present vineyards, we will be the first in Burgundy. I think I will start on my own, when I'm pretty sure there are some neighbors that will contact me like, "Can we join? Can we make it bigger?" But if you contact them first, everybody will be scared about having the vines and the buds eaten. So if we are able to really start, they will observe and I think after one vintage I will have some neighbors who will contact me to start to do something and that will be interesting, even for the berger herself, to have larger vineyards like this, it's more as


Brenna (Narration): We make our way to a small terrace overlooking the slope below us…Charles pours us a taste of Chambolle Village as we watch the sheep cautiously make their way closer to us…


Brenna: How have you found the perception with your neighbors?


Charles Lachaux: Different. For example, yeah, the two gates, they've been vandalized three times. They got broken at night to have the sheeps go away and stuff like this. But they love the shelter, and it has received quite care. So just one went out once - they didn't left. This is just with the neighbors, even the wine pros, not necessarily understand why you want to change things and do different because it works so well this way - why to change and be different and give us more work, more complication.


Brenna: Why do you want to change things?

Charles Lachaux: Because I think it's more exciting. You drink wine or you want to because it brings you something, not because you need to. It needs to give you something special. So if we don't do it with a special intention, how can it develop something special to you? I think that too many wines nowadays, which are well-made, they have no defaults. But, how long will you remind them? How will they last? Because the lack of soul, because now it's - it means too much in terms of money. It's mostly to have a secure recipe, try to have a good crop, limit the cost price to maximize the margin. When you forget about what's in the bowl and the glass and not how it's made.


Paul Wasserman: I think it’s great because if Burgundy is going to ask for these prices it has to have that level of intention.


Brenna: Were you all in when you started doing this? Or was it like one vineyard at a time?


Charles Lachaux: No, I didn't start it this way. With this mind. It's some wines that and some meetings that really changed my perception. Study with people with whom I was at school at like Nicolas Faure. Meeting those people, they will not growers. Nico was in school, it didn't got his vines already. He knew what he was going to do. He was going to work for domains like he did, like de Conti and stuff. And they were more passionate than the son and daughters of growers than us, who are very lucky. So by being close with those people, I realized that we were maybe missing out something and I developed more patient, and more concern about what was happening and what we were doing. So it's really restarted this way. I first learned how we were working from the first year we did big changes in the winemaking process, so 2012, we started with a whole cluster and we started to change in the vineyards to work from '14. So one vineyard we moved to Guyot-Ploussard and slowly things…


Jerusha Frost: But it is really, I mean, that's still a really, really fast change. Were you supported by your father?


Charles Lachaux: I'm not very patient. It's not in my character. Completely, I wouldn't have been able to do it if my parents didn't have support me. And they did. That's how we were able to change so many things so fast. I'm still an employee of the domaine, so my mother, and my family still agrees on the decisions. And now we have a team which is very up to it very implied in the process. So it's really cool, because we still have more and more projects coming in our minds so we'll try to keep it going.

They're not as scared as before. Before when you came and you were more than two you couldn't approach them by 20 meters. Why don't you see the coming at four meters.


Paul Wasserman: The friendliest is?


Charles Lachaux: Paulette.


Brenna (Narration): We finish our glasses, blow kisses to the sheep, and head back down the hill through the village of Chambolle-Musigny and into Morey-St-Denis…

Part 3: Morey-St-Denis, Arlaud and Dujac

3.1 Dujac, Jeremey Seysses discussion


Brenna (Narration): Morey-St-Denis is our third and final village of the day – it’s similar in size to Chambolle with only 148 total ha of vineyards – 64 are village, 44 are 1er cru, and 40 ha are grand cru. There are 4 Grand Crus: Clos des Lambreys, Clos de la Roche, Clos St Denis, and Clos de Tart. Both Clos des Lambreys and Clos de Tart are monopoles – owned by dueling French billionaires, according to Paul, this amounts to over 16 ha of monopole grand cru in this little village.  Morey is often considered to be a somewhat overlooked app in the CdN – particularly compared to its shiny, charismatic neighbors Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertin, But Morey certainly deserves its due respect, not only because of its major Grand Crus, but the quality of the 1er and village wines too.


Jeremy Seysses: Alright, welcome to Morey. Yeah I thought we can just walk around - so, so this is our winery. This as a result is nicknamed (name in French). But it's called Le Village. Not all the vineyards that touch the village but all the vineyards that are kind of enclosed into the village are really into the in habitations, and so on are called Le Village in Morey and a lot of other villages. So there's actually some 1er cru Le Village, which is confusing… um…


Brenna (Narration): Our first stop here is with Jeremy Seysses of the beloved Domaine Dujac.


Though they need no introduction, Jeremy and his wife Diana are two of the more prominent and progressive voices in the wine industry today. Jeremy is half- French / half American, and Diana is an American winemaker from Napa Valley. She’s the enologist here at Domaine Dujac as well as the winemaker at her family’s Snowden Vineyard’s label in Napa. They’re an inspiring young family, whose values and generosity are as great as the wines they make– they’re both passionate about a wide array of important issues affecting the wine world today –  including fighting climate change in the vineyards and in the winery and building diversity throughout the Industry. They’re also just nice people who also happen to be very cool. 


Daniel Johnnes: I kind of look at Jeremy Seysses as a bit of a Druid of Burgundy, in that he has a vision of Burgundy, where he can remove himself from the present and see Burgundy as a whole and see it in a very, very healthy way. I almost feel that Jeremy is rising to a position of, he would deny this and wouldn’t want this, but in a way he's a spokesperson for Burgundy. In a way where Aubert de Villaine, who's now officially retired, didn't accept or take a role as spokesperson, but he was, he really was, and I could see Jeremy and Diana taking that place.

Brenna (Narration): Jeremy takes us on a walk along the vineyards surrounding the Domaine…and points out some of the great Morey-Saint-Denis vineyards while describing what he believes are some of the key factors to understanding terroir in Burgundy…


Jeremy Seysses: So I feel like there's this hyper focus on geology right now on this soil. Because terroir, people are just, it's the dirt, it's the dirt. And then when you go the New World, they think climate quite a lot. It's just drainage and climate, drainage and climate. I feel like it's neither, it's got to be very holistic in the whole thing. So this is the Les Pourriens and this is where we have most of our village. So we have a piece here, we were able to buy this little strip here, which was once a more significant orchard, we're going to replant it. And we're going to try to have more of an orchard.


Brenna (Narration): Jeremy points out a narrow line of trees amongst a sea of vines. It’s surprising to think of these few trees as an orchard, but it’s pretty incredible once you consider the statement they’re making … Planting trees in place of very valuable vines in Burgundy is a pretty substantial risk.


Jeremy Seysses: The neighbors are pushing for us to put vines because we're getting you know, there's some shading, there's some competition and things like that. But I think it's very important that it stays as trees. And there was two other orchards along this street, which you can see no evidence of unless you do aerial photography and winter or something like that. But I think this was important there were much more trees across the landscape and there's the beginning of a conversation of putting more trees. I do think that they provide shading, but they also provide shade for workers during breaks. They provide diversity, they bring something which is otherwise fairly intensive monoculture. And so we do have forest up there. We do have more forest down there. We do have some polyculture and things like that. I think this saves us a little bit.


Jeremy Seysses: So this is Chambolle by the way. And so that's the other thing is man made construct. There's a reason why all Chambolle does not taste like Chambolle. Because some Chambolle should really be Morey, by, you know, this definitely do not come out of that Combe. And so Chambolle was the big name. And so commercial imperatives at the time said, well, we should make a lot of Chambolle, we could just come here, but we want some Morey. So we'll start Morey at Morey. And Chambolle is almost 200 hectares and Morey is 60. And the populations are that Chambolle population is half the size of Morey.


But the hillsides were planted much higher up all the way through Phylloxera and then after phylloxera those upper parts of the hills disappeared. But when you go up there, frequently, you find terraces, you find stone walls and things like that.

Brenna (Narration): Jeremy points to an unplanted section at the top of the slope in front of us, covered in grass and a few trees.


Jeremy Seysses: So here it's fairly high. But over above the Musigny, you can see there's just not much and then a number of producers in the post-World War II, and, I don't know exactly when it happened, but I know around then certainly on the plateau there, they went and scraped soil to put soil back into vineyards because they had erosion because at the time herbicides and so on and so. It's like, oh, we'll just grab some soil up here and put it down there. And so things were super barren up there. When I was a kid there was mostly grass you would have seen up there and with just juniper bushes.


There's this and that and above that is Bonnes Mares - This is Chambolle Les Sentiers, then by that white cabin, that there's two rows that's Les Baudes. And then above is, is Bonnes-Mares.


Have you walked in Bonnes-Mares yet, because that's definitely the cool, very visible example of - so you can see how white the soils are on that path. And then you go through a zone that’s browner and then you go into red soil. I only did them separately in 2005. But I taste them with Christoph Roumier a bunch of times. And so I think that Christoph Roumier said I like the blend best, I thought, it's good enough for Christoph Roumier, it's good enough for me.

Brenna (Narration): He continues to bring up an important point about the scale of terroir…


Jeremy Seysses: So there's, when we're talking about Bonnes-Mares, there's frequently this assumption, you hear a lot of vignerons say, you know, "the old people knew." I think that's discounting human nature a lot of the time, it was like, "Oh, well, you know, we put roads where we can't plant, the rock is right there and this was this a good place for road and not such a good place for planting. So let's do that. Let's quarry here because the rock is apparent so that we can build the houses there. Let's put the village in the combe because there's a bit of shelter. There's water underneath that we don't need to track five miles for well," and so and I think that people discount the notion of convenience or practicality in a lot of the way these things were shaped. And I think that their Burgundian way is you take your block, you take Bonnes-Mares top to bottom, you put in one tank, and you nail it, and you don't blend it. You don't try to say "Oh, this brings the power. This brings the finesse," as the Bordelais would very well know and when would tell you, it's not as simple as one brings power when brings finesse, and therefore you have power and finesse - no. The power can cancel the finesse. And you can, you can do one plus one equals zero, one plus one equals three, it just these don't, don't work out.


Brenna: I've heard someone say you can blend the life out of things.


Jeremy Seysses: Oh, for sure. I mean, from any vineyard, you could take the bottom, the middle, and the top, or you could break it down to these four vines, you can keep my microscopizing it, if you want - that's a terrible term. But anyway, you can keep making it smaller. And even if you took like this row and this row and this row, and you fermented them in their entirety and fermented them in three separate vessels, you would end up with different expressions. So I think it's very important that as a winemaker, or as people who love wine, etc., at some point, it is arbitrary. There's an intellectual satisfaction to keeping things separate and celebrating their differences, but there's also something important, which is to make good wine. And in the same way, you could separate young vines, or you could separate all the place names. But, at some point, we decide what is the best compromise or the best package. And so, yeah, there are multiple geologies coming together. They are multiple clones or multiple vine ages, there's sometimes more than one tank and so multiple ferments. And I think that that's a truth as well. But it's up to individual choice at that stage as you're making it and I think that there's value in that. I feel like you can get too lost in the micro differences and lose a bit sight of the fact that what you're trying to make is a wine that speaks of place, but is also delicious. And sometimes that one can be at the expense of the other.


Brenna (Narration): The decision of how something is broken up, either deliberately or through the parcelization of a vineyard through time, is itself a choice…is essentially style. If terroir is the translation of a sense of place, someone still must decide which place –

Jeremy Seysses: No, we're tasting through the magic that is fermentation and that is a grape growing in a place. And I think that's a real thing. But anyone who gardens knows that there's, you know, good places to grow tomatoes in your garden or fig tree and other places where you grow other things and, and it's not that hard. It's just Grand Cru du Côte de Nuits up till now has been a good place to grow Pinot Noir. It just turns out well, more often than not.

3.2 Arlaud MSD Vineyards


Brenna (narration): Now that we’ve been properly introduced to Morey-St-Denis. We’re ready for a deeper dive into the vineyards themselves…


[Piano music transition]


To do this, we’re meeting with Cyprien Arlaud of Domaine Arlaud (that’s Arlaud spelled A-R-L-A-U-D – not to be confused with Domaine L’Arlot, spelled A-R-L-O-T based in Nuit Saint-St-Georges).


This short visit is my first time meeting Cyprien, and I found him instantly like-able. He’s smart, charming, and clearly in tune with his vines–which are all horse-plowed and fully biodynamic.


We hop in the car and set out to explore Morey.


**Background chatter about needing to clean the car**


Cyprien Arlaud: As you know, Morey is one of the tiniest appellations of the Côte de Nuits. Very recently with Françoise I discover all the complexity with the geology and biology.


Brenna: Mhmm.


Cyprien Arlaud: But of course before all of that I have the real feeling by working on the vineyards for more than 20 years that Morey, even it’s very tiny, have heaps of diversity in the soil, the microclimate, which is show through the 21 different premiers crus. And the most of the size of Morey is taken by the premiers crus and the grands crus. But the fact that there’s 20 different premiers crus is the real sign of the diversity of Morey.


Brenna (Narration): We begin on the northern edge of the appellation, near the border with Gevrey-Chambertin…


**Continued humming sounds of the car**


Cyprien Arlaud: You see the little gorge?


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: Just like the limit between the Lambrey and the Clos de Tart side and the Clos de la Roche and Clos St-Denis side, this gorge.


[Calm musical transition]


Brenna (Narration): Cyprien is prepared with the recently completed geologic maps by Francoise, so I know this really will be a deep dive. A large combe separates the village into three parts-–a generous alluvial fan extends out from the combe, splitting the village into northern, central, and southern sections, once again.


Cyprien Arlaud: Just to show you where exactly is everything…


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: With the small castle there…


Brenna: Uh huh


Cyprien Arlaud: That’s the Monts Luisants part.


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: And the Monts Luisants have a very specific kind of soil.


Brenna (Narration): The northern side of Morey–adjacent to Gevry, is dominated by hard Premeaux and Comblanchien limestones that weather to produce very thin, clay-rich soils–there are also some big pockets of grezes litées – particularly in Monts Luisants, the center of Clos de la Roche, and just above the Clos St-Denis…


Cyprien Arlaud: Then you have, if you continue the slope, all in front of us, that’s the Closde la Roche, from the castle to the new parcel just there with the wall. (Said under his breath) Let me show you the map, it’s here.


**Sounds of Cyprien unfurling a map**


Cyprien Arlaud: Inside the Clos de la Roche area you have the original climat of Clos de la Roche and the extension has been done in 1930. So, you can see from the castle, to this road with the tree, that’s the limit of Clos de la Roche. And on the other side of the road, that’s the beginning of Clos St-Denis. So, just to…


Brenna: It’s so much gentler.


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, yeah.

Brenna: It’s really impressive.

Cyprien Arlaud: It’s more steep-ery in the Clos de la Roche. And the Clos St-Denis, the slope, is closer from the gorge and it’s also–I like to say, we go there–the Clos St-Denis is the perfect grand cru miniaturism. Small slope, everything is small, that’s the perfect exposition, middle of slope. And the Clos de la Roche you have this more diversity with the st…because some part are more steep-ery, and also diversity of soil.


Brenna: Okay.

**Tranquil music and the sound of the car indicator**


Cyprien Arlaud: Allors, this road make the limit with Morey and Gevrey.


Brenna: Oh wow.


Cyprien Arlaud: Okay.


**Music continues with sounds of seatbelts unbuckling as Cyprien and Brenna get out of the car and car doors closing and crunching footsteps**

Brenna (Narration): We stop to take a look at the premier cru Aux Cheseaux, just along the border of Morey and Gevrey…though it’s low on the slope, the soils here are shallow, only 20cm or so over Comblanchien limestone…

Cyprien Arlaud: So, one thing is interesting to understand of course with the map you understand better the different kind of geology we have there…


Brenna: Mhmm.


Cyprien Arlaud: And there, it’s very, very opposite. But also the concept of micro, microclimate. We get much more cool wind from the north there. It’s completely open and we get this cool wind from the north.


Brenna: Yeah


Cyprien Arlaud: And so we have one block there. Just underneath, it’s very full of limestone. 


**Sound of tapping against rock**


Cyprien Arlaud: It’s very “soma”.


Brenna: Yeah, like 20cm?


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So…


Brenna: Wow.


**Sounds of Cyprien tapping against the rock again**


Cyprien Arlaud: That’s the maximum.


Brenna: That’s a good sound.


**Cyprien taps again**


Cyprien Arlaud: So, this part, where we are, is probably more similar to across the road with the Mazoyeres-Chambertin.


Brenna: The Gevrey, Gevrey?


Cyprien Arlaud: Gevrey.


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: With Gevrey Mazoyeres. So, this part of Morey have more, we almost say taste and spirit of Gevrey, where we are.


Brenna: Yeah, yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: Okay, even we have in Morey. So the particularity, like for this vineyards, for these vineyards will be pick one week later…


Brenna: Mmm…

Cyprien Arlaud: And they makes even for the same premier cru from the same village, two different world. The premier cru is plow by horses.


Brenna: Okay.


Cyprien Arlaud: Okay, since 2003 and…


Brenna: And it’s your sister?


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, my sister start and now she give him to two other men…


Brenna: Okay.


Cyprien Arlaud: Two men to make the job of one woman.


Brenna: Yeah, exactly. **laughs** Well said.


**Brenna continues laughing**


Cyprien Arlaud: That’s the same, always. We want, during the winter, the soil protected with the grass and just for this one, they’ve done a small plowing and it’s very nice to see that the texture of the soil it’s very supple.

Brenna: Yeah, it is. 


Cyprien Arlaud: Souple. And, and that’s key one of the key to express in the wine the taste of the place.


Brenna: Yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: If it’s completely compacted, oof, it doesn’t work.


Brenna (narration): We continue just up the slope and make a quick stop at the Clos St-Denis.


**Sound of car doors closing**


Cyprien Arlaud: Grand cru, soil.


Brenna: Looks good. **laughing**


Cyprien Arlaud: Clos St-Denis is one of my favorites.


Brenna: Okay…


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah. Clos de la Roche 17 Hectares


Brenna: Uh huh.

Cyprien Arlaud: Clos de la Roche, Okay. Clos St-Denis 6.5. So…


Brenna: Oh wow.


Cyprien Arlaud: So, the tiniest grand cru of Morey. Not the more known because it’s more confidential. We only 13 owners of the Clos St-Denis. This plot is in the historic Clos St-Denis clos, okay.


Brenna: Uh huh.

Cyprien Arlaud: It was initially 3 hectares before to be extended to 6.5 in the 1930s. Voilà. But for me, I was explaining you, then the Clos St-Denis that’s exactly the Grand Cru.


Brenna: Uh huh


Cyprien Arlaud: So, middle of the slope. It doesn’t look very steep-ery.


Brenna: Yeah


Cyprien Arlaud: But the geology is very different from the bottom…


Brenna: Yeah.

Cyprien Arlaud: …to the top. 


**Soft music playing**

Cyprien Arlaud: The soil as well and it’s very subtile, it’s very subtile but it make all the complexity.


Brenna: Mhmm.


Cyprien Arlaud: The, also the spirit of the wine. For me it’s very close from the spirit of a Musigny.


Brenna: Okay.


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah.

Brenna: Yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: Because Morey St-Denis character, Morey St-Denis wine can be more the feet on the floor.


Brenna: Yep.


Cyprien Arlaud: And for me, Clos St-Denis have this spirit. We can lift the wine higher with more complexity, more elegance…


Brenna: Yeah.

Cyprien Arlaud: …more finesse.

Brenna (narration): Back in the car, we drive through the center of the village towards the southern side of the appellation.


**Sounds of car indicator**


Cyprien Arlaud: We pass quickly in the center of Morey climat. There, you have this road make the, the limit with the premier cru and the village part.


Brenna: Okay.


Cyprien Arlaud: And this village part is a very nice part of Morey. Alors, it’s more unique


Brenna: In the lower section?


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, it’s lower and more clay and more humid also.


Brenna: Yeah, this is like south-facing.


**Brenna laughing**


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, south-facing, exactly. And, and it makes wine, not great complexity.


Brenna: Mhmm.


Cyprien Arlaud: But very on the acidity fruits character.

Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: Which is also maybe the main skill of a Morey village. A Morey village is probably not as complex as Chambolle and Gevrey.


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: But it make this accessibility for the wine just to please you…


Brenna: Yeah.

Cyprien Arlaud:…and yeah, and to charm you.


Brenna: Yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: And just across the road it make more serious wine. 


**More dramatic musical transition**


Brenna (Narration): The Southern edge of Morey begins with a little sliver of Bonnes-Mares–this is owned by Bruno Clair who we’ll visit with in our next episode. The consistent geologic block of Bonnes-Mares continues into Clos de Tart. Above it, one of my favorite vineyards, on La Rue de Vergy, is a faulted-up combination of white oolite and premeaux limestone. The Clos des Lambreys combines these two vineyards with Premeaux at the top, grezes litées sitting over ostrea acuminata marl, and a couple little slivers of white oolite at the top and crinoidal limestone at the bottom. Our final stop is in the premier cru Les Ruchots—just beneath Bonnes Mares and Clos de Tart.


Cyprien Arlaud: This climat is also one of my favorites.


**Sounds of opening the car door and unbuckling seatbelts, footsteps and closing doors**


Cyprien Arlaud: Alors, we see better…


Brenna: Uh huh.

Cyprien Arlaud: …the…


Brenna: Oh cool


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, what we were talking about.


Brenna: Yeah, wow.


Cyprien Arlaud: Alors, this, all this part…you see the wall?


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: Just in front of us, this is the limit with the Clos de Tart. Alors, Ruchots is very similar to a clos.


Brenna: Uh huh.

Cyprien Arlaud: Very protected from the cold wind of the north…


Brenna: Yeah, yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: …with this free wall. It’s a bit lower. You have a big step between…


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud:…the road and big break with the Clos de Tart…


Brenna: Yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud:…and the Ruchots.


Brenna: Yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: You find this…


Brenna: Only there.


Cyprien Arlaud:…oolite very generous. 


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: It’s very funny because Françoise was reminding 20 years ago when we also did that…


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: For the horse plowing to see the benefit of the horse plowing.


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: We’ve seen those small bubble of iron in the limestone.


Brenna: Yeah.


**Soft inspirational music playing**


Cyprien Arlaud: It was magic. And she said, “it’s a paradise for vineyards.”


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: Because when you have all the four kinds of limestone.


Brenna: Uh huh.


Cyprien Arlaud: You’ve got all those minerals and there’s a kind of energy there.


Brenna: Yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: So, if you go in the middle, the fact you’ve got this wall, everything get focused…


Brenna: Yeah, it’s like a little nest.

Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, yeah, yeah. For the wine it’s really express for me, it’s one of the three best premiers crus of Morey. We really express complexity. But for the vine, it just love to be there.


**Brenna chuckling**


Brenna: Yeah.


Cyprien Arlaud: Yeah, it’s a…

**Music continues and Brenna’s laughter trails off**


Brenna (Narration): After spending this time with Cyprien and tasting the wines later, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard more about this Domaine until now—so I asked David Hinkle, the Chief-French-Officer at Skurnik Wines to tell me more about him.


David has been working with the Domaine since 1990, when Cyprien’s father was running the show, and has been a big fan since day one.


Here is what David had to say about Cyprien…


“Cyprien Arlaud was not handed a famous property when he took over full-time in 1998, but he’s one of the most thoughtful growers that I have worked with over the last 35+ years, and I don't think there's anybody I've seen that has been closer to his vines. Today he's at the height of his powers.”


To end our day we leave Morey-St-Denis and head back into the village of Chambolle-Musigny for a visit I’ve been looking forward to for years…


**Music continues and sounds of the car driving and wind blowing through the windows**

Part 4: Mugnier

4.1 Discussion


Brenna (Narration): There’s an impressive cluster of talented vigneron in this quaint little village.


Paul Wasserman: Ghislaine Barthod, the wines are, pfffff, great. I mean, you can throw a dart in any of the premiers crus in Barthod’s cellar and you’re going to get a great wine. I certainly think that Amiot-Servelle is doing a great job. I haven’t really tasted Hudelot-Baillet, but he’s being talked about a lot. And the other two domaines that are being talked about are Sigaut and Felettig.


Brenna (narration): And even amongst such incredible peers, there are two names that always sit at the top…


**Piano music transition**


…Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier and Frédéric Mugnier of Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, who happen to live and make their wines right next door to each other. Both make exceptional, expressive examples of Musigny, Bonnes Mares, and Les Amoureuse. Yet, while each producer makes wines that are true to the expression of Chambolle–their styles are distinctly different.


Daniel Johnnes: Christophe Roumier is one of the most careful, thoughtful, yet at the same time instinctive winemakers in Chambolle. I find his wines to be among the greatest in all of Burgundy. I also find that they don’t give early on. Depending on the vintage, some earlier than others. They’re wines require patience. I think they’re very expressive of their terroir. You jump around his vineyards and taste. There’s a lot of clarity, a lot of definition. If I were to describe the difference between Fred Mugnier and Christophe Roumier is…I think the wines of Christophe really perform like Muhammad Ali, where they could pack a major serious punch but they also dance like a ballet dancer. Absolutely beautiful! And I talk about Muhammad Ali because he was like just a beauty to watch. It was just the most extraordinary thing to somebody like this move and Christophe Roumier has that weight and the intensity, the energy, the power, the muscle, but without being heavy, without being aggressive. And Fred Mugnier is more of a ballet dancer with a light touch. You know, it’s that light touch that makes his wines so extraordinary because they require attention, they have a subtlety to them, but they also have amazing intensity and length on the palate. 

**sounds of a car arriving on what sounds like gravel**


Brenna (Narration): We make our way into Chambolle and beyond the metal gates of Domaine Mugnier…I’ve been eagerly anticipating this visit and until just a couple of days prior had never met Fred, despite several attempts on my part. As such a meaningful figure in the Wasserman household, I had been lucky to have some very special bottles of Mugnier over the years – only on the most profound occasions.


A couple of nights earlier, I had been lucky enough to attend a dinner with Fred hosted by the Wassermans as a part of a week-long Chambolle symposium. When I told him how excited I was to speak with him, he gave me a look of doubt, and suggested I might not want to hear what he had to say… “terroir is bullshit” he said, with a little sparkle in his eye. I assured him I couldn’t wait…


Paul Wasserman: Yes, he’s a provocateur. Fred is a very unusual person and I think that’s why he got along with Becky so well. Very shy, almost awkward, and that sort of describes Becky too, even though she got over her shyness. And Fred’s very profound and very serious, and very thoughtful about things. And his engineer background makes him weigh things, much like Pascal Mugneret, very precisely. They like everything to be reasoned as much as possible and scientifically or logically constructed until the point where they can’t explain anything and then they set free. Fred was determined to make very graceful, delicate wines. Those were not popular at the time. Fred chose to make wines that were very discreet and elegant and not extracted, not very wooded, and not dense. It took a very long time for the domaine to garner the fame that it has today, despite the incredible appellations and the incredible quality of the wines. But there’s a combination of Chambolle and the lack of artifice. They are breathtaking. Ten years being the minimum but the early 2000s now from Fred are just ravishing. And there’s Chambolle to thank too but there’s this non-egotistical…–and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Every craftsman or every artist needs an ego to produce beautiful things, and that translates as style–And there’s a Fred style in the absence of any noticeable stylistic signature.


**Musical transition**

Brenna (Narration): Fred is the 5th generation of the Mugnier family, yet the first to be actually involved in running the estate. The family business was in aperitifs–absinth, cassis, and other spirits–there are some beautiful old advertisements of this decorating the house we’re sitting in. Professionally, Fred was an engineer working mostly in offshore oil operations in the middle east before his father passed away and he decided to return to this place he knew relatively little about.


Frédéric Mugnier: So, I ask for leave from my company and settled in this house and I went to school in Beaune to learn the basics of wine and viticulture and I made it the job of my life. So, no, I really didn’t know anything about wine or making wine or working in vineyard when I settled here and when I made my first vintage in 1985. There are very few jobs where you have such a full control on the whole process and with a total liberty and responsibility, which goes together. So, if the wine is good, I can take some pride from it. If it’s not good, I can’t blame anybody else. And that’s very exciting and satisfactory. And the other thing is working with nature. Working with a vine is a living being and the wine itself is always changing, moving, and it cannot be reduced to laboratory tests and laboratory analysis. So, there’s a complexity that will always escape understanding. So, the mystery, I find it very exciting.


**Musical transition**


Brenna (Narration): This mystery, for me at least, lies in the terroir…Fred is fascinated by the differences in each of his wines, so I wonder what it is that he struggles to believe in?


Frédéric Mugnier: Geology is obviously a major factor for terroir. Each piece of land, what we call a climat, will produce different wines with different names and they really are different. There is a reality there and we have tried and worked a lot to try to understand the reason for the differences between one vineyard and the neighbor. We are work mostly on geology which gives a good part of the explanation, but it’s not enough. Geology doesn’t explain all the differences. So, there must be something in the earth, or the underground, or elsewhere. So, what can it be? My first guess would be circulation of water, which is very difficult to see and understand. And something else that has been not very much studied, which is the microclimate. And we tend to underestimate the differences of the microclimate of the different spots in the vineyard, even some very close, ones that are very close to each other. I realized that during a night in April in 2016 when I was worried about frost. I spend most of the night walking in the vineyard or driving in the vineyard with a precision thermometer. And I realized there were huge unexpected differences in the temperature between places very close to each other or very similar to each other. Something like 5 degrees in the middle of the night. Morey St-Denis is warmer than Chambolle. Musigny is colder than Bonnes Mares. And there is a third factor which is human influence, the history of the parcels. The legend about climat, of Burgundy is that 900 years ago the monks were walking in the vineyard and looking at the landscape, and looking at the soil, and tasting the rocks and were able to identify the different climat. Well, I don’t…uhh, it’s a nice legend but it’s only a legend. The limits between the climats were basically limits of properties. Most of them are roads or trails. And sometimes the roads happen to correspond to geological limits but it’s not the rule. So, I say that the limits of climat is, in most cases, historical limits of properties. And the question is how these limits may have become limits between wines with different taste and my idea about it is when a vineyard is worked by one man or one family, possibly over several centuries, it is changed. The work that is done on this plot will eventually change the quality of the earth, the quality of the soil. And it’s probably most obvious on climats that have been monopolies for a very long time like Clos de Tart in Morey, which has been a monopoly for 1200 years or something like that. And you can imagine that after 1200 years of being worked by the same people who have been moving earth within the vineyard everyday by plowing, or once a year for bringing the earth from the bottom back to the top, it will create a unity within this vineyard that maybe did not fully exist at the beginning when they build the walls around it.

**soft music playing**


Brenna: I mean, if the monks had hundreds and hundreds of years to do this and yet all of the great vineyards, the soil changes color obviously from the top to the bottom…


Frédéric Mugnier: Mhmm.


Brenna: …so if they were trying to designate they probably would have put a wall in between the top part of Bonnes Mares and the bottom part of Bonnes Mares. You know, like they, they had a long time to figure out white soil versus red soil, you know?


Frédéric Mugnier: Yeah, Absolutely.


**Brenna laughs**


Frédéric Mugnier: Absolutely. And also you have to keep in mind there is a history of the place before the monks and there were people working there, living there, cultivating the soil there since the neolithic age. The boundaries were not drawn with the purpose of separating different types of wines. This idea of identifying wines by the name of the land where they come from is relatively recent. It’s much more recent than the vineyard. It dates back from the 18th century, maybe the end of the 17th, not earlier than that. Before that the wines were sold as a vin du Dijon or a vin du Beaune and they were blended by merchants. So, it’s a modern idea, the idea that these wines is where the grapes were born. And the boundaries of the climats were set much earlier, centuries before that. So, it cannot be the taste of the wine who decided on the limits. 


**Frédéric laughs**


Frédéric Mugnier: People sometimes have a romantic ideas about the names of the wines. Les Amoureuses is obviously…I would bet that les Amoureuses has nothing to do with love. It doesn’t make sense and the best explanation I heard is that the earth is in love when it sticks to the boots.


Brenna: Mmm. Mhmm…


Frédéric Mugnier: Which makes sense because that’s what a farmer would think when walking the vineyard. And it is true, there is a lot of clay in les Amoureuses vineyard and it does stick to the boots. So…


Brenna: That sounds dangerously close to terroir.


**everyone laughing**


Paul Wasserman: Well, the other thing they were named for was what grew there before the vines, sometimes. Genevrières, um…


Brenna: Chênes…


Paul Wasserman: If you look at paths where there are no vineyards, they were first drawn by animals and that’s where people walk because it’s flat, there’s no grass. There’s a logic that may sometimes follow these faults.


Frédéric Mugnier: The first trails were set in the neolithic age by prehistoric men. They were walking prob…most likely, where it was easiest to walk.


Paul Wasserman: Exactly.


Frédéric Mugnier: Those trails have become roads and they may now be the boundaries between two different vineyards, two different climats. And probably if it was easier to walk there, there must be a geological explanation to it. I’m not sure I should tell you a story…


Brenna: You definitely should.



Frédéric Mugnier: Uhhh…but it’s, I think very interesting so, I shouldn’t kill the myth about les Amoureuses because it’s such a…such extraordinary wines with such very clear identity, very strong identity which is very unique. You will not find that character anywhere else than in les Amoureuses. It’s, yeah, it’s emotional and it’s magical. And I have two plots in les Amoureuses. One of them is in a place called “the quarry” and when you look around you can see it has been a quarry. And I have to replant that plot. So, I pulled up the vines two years ago and that was the opportunity to try and understand what is under the surface. So, I found that the bedrock is very close to the surface. It’s like 30cm and then you find almost solid rock table. It’s calcaire de Comblanchien which is very hard and solid. And the top soil is basically clay but actually it looks like forest soil. It’s dark, it’s very obvious it was taken from somewhere and brought there and it’s not organized. It’s all mixed up and you can find pieces of brick, pieces of charcoal, round rocks like you find in rivers, plenty of things that have nothing to do there that are not original. And it makes sense. It’s obvious that since it was a quarry they had to bring some earth from somewhere else to fill the quarry and plant the vines. And now my question is how this completely artificial soil, terroir, can produce such magical wines that cannot be found anywhere else.


Brenna: I think that’s kind of like part of the magic of it, right? Because it’s not like it came from the soil factory. We don’t know where it came from and it’s almost even just as miraculous and coincidental or serendipitous that like wherever they got the clay from was such a good fit for the place that they put it.


Frédéric Mugnier: I’m happy with the idea that man can contribute to shape the terroir and the provider that does that work slowly over centuries with care and… but I wouldn’t like to discover that you can make les Amoureuses from any, anywhere if you find a table of Comblanchien and you bring in some forest earth on it, on the top of it. I would hate this idea.


**transitional music plays**


Frédéric Mugnier: Would you like to see the cellar?


Brenna: Yes.


4.2 Tasting


Brenna: We walk down to the cellar where we begin tasting the 2020 vintage from barrel..starting with Chambolle village and 1er Cru les Fuées. 


**transitional music plays**


Frédéric Mugnier: So I make all of my wines exactly the same way. There is absolutely no difference in the process whatsoever between village and grand cru… or Chambolle or Nuit-Saint-George. They are all made exactly the same way. With the idea that I don’t want to interfere with the expression of the terroir. The wine should have the taste of the place where it comes from and not my idea of what it should be. I try and be as invisible as I can in my wines…the expression of the wines must be an expression of nature. 


The expression of nature is richer, more complex, more exciting, more fascinating, than anything that I can do. 


Brenna (Narration): After the dramatic heat of the 2003 vintage, Fred took this philosophy one step further and began making his wines the same exact way every year, instead of fighting the vintage in the cellar…


Frédéric Mugnier: There’s no point in trying to compensate for the extremes of the weather by doing a different wine making. If I let it go, the wines will be harmonious in one way or another. But the risk is that I try and interfere and most likely I will ruin that harmony. 


This is now Bonnes Mares.


Brenna: It seems… to me… more powerful than the Fuées… more…


Frédéric Mugnier: Mhm, it is. 


Brenna: Mhm.. more regal.. It’s like… confidence. 


Frédéric Mugnier: Just a person.


Brenna: Yeah! Just a… like, they are standing up very straight. 


Frédéric Mugnier: Yeah, I agree. There is something more rigid on this side of Chambolle. 


Brenna (Narraton): After Bonnes Mares we taste Les Amoureuse…


Brenna: There is a word you used to describe Les Amoureuse the other night that I thought was really beautiful. You said that some of the beauty within Les Amoureuse was its fragility. 


Frédéric Mugnier: Fragility… yeah. Yes, what is very special, what is unique in Les Amoureuse… its a wine that is very delicate but it is also very intense… long, long after tastes and very intense. It’s… rich and weightless at the some time. It’s unique, well it’s rare, but if you like it you might be touched by the feeling of fragility… there… and it’s true. It relies on a very precarious balance. It can fall either way… on the side of the weakness, leanness, and emptiness. Or if the winemaker tries to make it bigger than it truly is, it will break into pieces in fact. The tannins will be rough, sharp, course, and you will ruin the harmony of the wine. And the… okay. 


**Fred says jokingly**


Where is the terroir for Les Amoureuse! 


**everyone laughs**


Brenna: It’s…absolutely… beautiful. 


Paul Wasserman: It’s a very beautiful Terroir. 


Brenna (Narration): And finally, Musigny…

Frédéric Mugnier: Less is more. I have an interest for classic Chinese paintings. And there’s an emptiness that takes a great place in the painting. Emptiness is unacceptable in classic European painting. In fact it’s the center of any Chinese painting, and the emptiness is animated by what is drawn on the sides. I find it fascinating - in Europe, emptiness is death - it’s nothing. In Asian philosophy it’s just the opposite… it’s where everything can happen. Because if it’s full, nothing can move and there’s no life and nothing can happen - for something to happen, for people to meet other people - we need an empty space… where they can move into. There must be some emptiness.


And if the wine is so dense, that there is no space inside it, it’s dead. There must be enough open space inside… inside the wine. There’s an English wine writer who expresses that very nicely, whereby comparing musical reference. There’s a famous Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould, who recorded the Bach Goldberg variations twice, the first time when he was maybe 20, 22, he was a very young pianist and another time, 30, 40 years later. And, the first recording is 35 minutes long - the second one is 53 minutes long. And, okay it’s the same notes, but there’s more life - there’s a soul in the… in the second recording which you can’t find in the first one. He said about this experience - too much piano playing in his first recording. Yeah, he was very skillful, and he could play very fast and it was very impressive. So, the difference is 15 minutes of silence, inserted… woven, into the music. And that’s what gives the spirit, the soul in the second recording.


**glasses clink together**


Frédéric Mugnier: But I find there is not enough space in this one at the moment. It’s tight, it’s very dense, it has to age to expand. And include a bit more emptiness. 


**Fred laughs**


Frédéric Mugnier: This is just to say I have more and more serenity with age but I have as much wonder as ever, with the miracle of some wines. A life of wonder and serenity. 


**transitional music plays**




Brenna (Narration): Thank you to our guests: Marie-Andree and Marie-Christine Mugneret, Jean-Nicolas Meo, Charles Lachaux, Jeremy Seysses, Cyprien Arlaud, and Fred Mugnier.


Thank you to Paul Wasserman and Daniel Johnnes, for your commentary, guidance and expertise.


Our main source for historical and technical information is Inside Burgundy, by Jasper Morris, and our geological information comes from the local geologic expert, Francoise Vannier.


This episode is made possible by our Season 2 partners: Becky Wasserman & Co, La Paulee, and Acker Wines. 


Roadside Terroir is hosted and produced by me, Brenna Quigley. Recording and sound engineering by Nick Canepa, and original music and sound design by Jeff Alvarez. 


This season wouldn’t be possible without the support from all of you – Check out our website to learn how you can stay in touch, and how to help support this season by donating, sponsoring, or becoming a Roadside Insider.


We would like to extend a special thank you to our Grand Cru patron Steven Lipin – thank you for making this episode possible. 


Thank you to Esa Eslami, Jerusha Frost, Ali Massie, Summer Staeb, Michael Sager, and everyone else who helped make this episode a reality.


**transitional music plays**



Charles: And we came last week, he was taking care of 6 of them, so maybe we will have 6 new lambs that spring. After I think we will stop because 13 to manage is…


**Brenna laughing**


Brenna: He was taking care of them! **Brenna Laughing** 


Brenna: How generous of him. 


**Everyone laughing** 


Charles: It was weird. We arrived with the team. They were along the rocks and we thought that they were stuck with some herbs but no, they were just queueing. 


**Brenna laughing** 


Charles: They were in line, and he was going from one to the other. 


Brenna: What a lover. Yes, there was lots of love to go around. 


Paul: Maybe he thinks it’s a grind…

Charles Lachaux: Tu as dit quoi?


Paul Wasserman: That’s a… c’est un jeune mot… (continues explanation in French...)



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