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Profile: Domaine Jean Paul & Stéphane Magnien (Morey St.Denis)

jean-paul and stephane magnien morey saint denisJust behind the church in the centre of Morey St.Denis, you will find the small courtyard and domaine of Jean-Paul, and latterly Stéphane Magnien. After working for seven years with his father, and completing his BAC and BTS in Beaune, Stéphane is now, and for about one year, heading the domaine.

In a little over 100 years, Stéphane is the fourth generation of Magniens to live in, and work from, the family house and cellars whose facilities date from the late 1700’s. These premises were bought by his great grandfather, Victor Magnien, the son of restauranteurs who had a wine-growing grandmother in Morey. Victor wanted to work the vines, so apprenticed to another domaine in the village and, over years, slowly amassed his vines. Victor’s son, Felix, together with his wife took on the domaine: they vinified everything, though sold their product to the négoce. It was the next generation of Jean-Paul and his wife Marie-Odile who first started to bottle their own wines. Father, Jean-Paul, is still working hard with Stéphane. You will find a number of Magniens in the area (Michel, Frederic etc.) but they are not related to the Magniens of this domaine.

The domaine is not just geographically centred on Morey St.Denis, their range of vines reflect that too, though a couple of Chambolles from the neighbouring village to the south and a Charmes-Chambertin from the north slip into the range. The domaine is a modest 4.5 hectares but has a mix of regional, communal, 1er and grand cru sites and across the holdings, vine-age is a creditable average of close to 50 years.

Vines and Winemaking

The Magniens are proud of the fact that their vines have never seen herbicides, rather they were ploughed by horse for many years until a tractor was bought in the 1980’s. Pruning and green harvesting is done by hand, as is the harvest when the grapes are selected (triaged) at the vine. Wine-making is described as ‘traditional’, though only the domaine’s aligoté keeps its stems, that said, Stéphane does work in a reductive way – in fact he was assembling and pumping over his 2007 Morey Villages cuvée to remove a little of that carbon dioxide when I visited. Stéphane has invested in new stainless-steel fermentation tanks to replace their 50 year old (at least) oak counterparts. The fermentations normally last about two weeks, with pigeages and remontages. The aim is not to force extraction, rather to produce wines which are “elegant, fruity, and full of freshness while remaining true to the terroir they came from“. The cuvées stay in barrel for up to 2 years before being bottled. Wines are normally placed in ‘new’ barrels (at this domaine that means 1-5 years old) for the first year before being racked into ‘old’ barrels (5+ years) until being bottled without fining nor filtering.

A tour through the barrels

The malolactics were mainly done in February. Here the premiers get about 1.5 years, and the grand crus are closer to two years in barrel. These are very clean and tasty 2007’s that manage to showcase both the sensual softness of the vintage and the differences between the vineyards. I very much look forward to trying additional vintages from this attractively priced domaine.

2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Morey St.Denis try to find this wine...
As previously mentioned, this was being assembled and pumped over to remove carbon dioxide. As such it was showing little in the way of aroma, but for the record it is made up from 4 parcels: Les Cognées 0.40 hectares, Les Crais Gillon 0.40 hectares, Bas Chenevery 0.04 hectares and Clos Solon 0.13 hectares.
2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Chambolle-Musigny Les Athets try to find this wine...
From a parcel of 80 year-old vines. Forward and concentrated aromas of lovely, fine, red fruits and eventually redcurrant. In the mouth it’s understated, but shows lovely detail and texture. This left a fine impression.
2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Sentiers try to find this wine...
From 50 year-old vines. The colour is a little darker, and the nose is a little deeper with soft dark fruits. The nose develops into a real beauty. Fuller in the mouth, with just a hint of spritz and a lovely width and dimension. Aparently there is some chlorosis of the vines which leads to reduced yields and smaller grapes. A lovely wine.
2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Morey St.Denis 1er Cuvée Aux Petits Noix try to find this wine...
A high proportion of that unseen 1er cru Gruenchers in this cuvée, but the grapes are mixed when they enter the cellar so no chance to taste it on its own. Deep aromas with darker fruit and a little coffee. Ripe, with plenty (for the vintage) of well-covered tannins. Flavours hang on the lingering acidity. Bigger but not necessarily ‘better’ than the Sentiers.
2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Morey St.Denis 1er Les Faconnières try to find this wine...
0.6 hectares, their’s was the first Morey St.Denis 1er ever to have the Faconnières lieu-dit on a label. One third of this vineyard was replanted eight years ago. A deep, dark and quite savoury nose that’s quite wide and very fine. Ripe fruit and an extra edge of power.
2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Morey St.Denis 1er Monts Luisants try to find this wine...
A difficult vineyard to work, as the plough has to contend with so many rocks. The aromas are more floral than from the other Morey 1ers, high-toned and with some herbs. In the mouth this is much more mineral and perhaps longer than the other wines, but it is currently a very linear impression. Rather impressive.
2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Charmes-Chambertin try to find this wine...
Was a little gassy and hard to evaluate but there seems good concentration and balance with some soft, well-mannered tannin
2007 Jean-Paul et Stéphane Magnien, Clos St.Denis try to find this wine...
The vines are ‘Porte Greffe’ which leaves them a little susceptible to chlorose férrique (problem of iron absorption). This has a deep and sensuous nose – a mix of dark cherries. The entry to the palate is very understated, but then the wine just widens and widens across the palate. It’s not an obviously powerful wine, but the flavours just keep lingering. Very elegant – a super wine.

En Plus : In 2002, Stéphane’s eldest sister, Christine, who has a degree in history, published her thesis tracing the lives of the wine growers in Gevrey-Chambertin between 1847-1952. “This hundred year period represents the transition between the age of the self-sufficient peasant wine producer and the contemporary wine-grower running a modern business.” (~340 pages) A reference work I already picked up in the Athenaeum bookshop in Beaune.

10 responses to “Profile: Domaine Jean Paul & Stéphane Magnien (Morey St.Denis)”

  1. Phil Eaves

    Bill did you discuss with them why the Gruenchers is not made on its own ? could it be young vines or the amount of land they own not being sufficient for a single wine ?

  2. Ian Fitzsimmons

    Bill:

    I wanted to ask you about JP Magnien again. Did you have the opportunity to taste any earlier vintages (your published notes were on the 2007s)? There are some attractively-priced 05’s in the U.S. market, but, unfortunately, only on the west coast. Since I am on the east coast, I can’t pick up samples easily, and am therefore reliant on others’ notes. JP Magnien does not seem to have developed much of a following here at this point, but you seem to esteem their wines quite highly.

    Thanks.

    Ian

  3. Wolfgang

    @Ian Fitzsimmons
    Hi,

    I recently purchased a mixed case of JP Magnien in Germany at quite attractive prices. The 2003 Chambole Village was lovely. I also had the chance to visit the domaine last week in Morey and tasted some 2007s and 2008s from the barrel. It seems to me that the domaine does not always quite match with the quality of other Domaines in town, however the wines are priced very reasonably. Jean Paul told me that they do not use a sorting table since they look for good grapes in the vineyard. The malos for the 2008 were already artificially finished by SO2 whereas in other domaines, the malos for the 2008s haven’t even started.

    Regards,

    Wolfgang

  4. Richard Fadeley

    Thanks for all you info. I have a bottle of ’02 Les Faconnieres that I bought while in Burgundy a few years ago. In your opinion, when should this 1er be opened for max. enjoyment?

  5. Stéphane Magnien

    Dear Bill,
    A big thank for these tasting notes that I’ve just discovered. All explanations are right, the intricacies of parcels, why we blend the Gruenchers and Clos-Baulet (maybe one day we will produce the two different appellations..)..
    In short, happy that the 2007 vintage, more flexible than others, you have interest. We’re going to bottle, the result of my first vinification (2008), in a few weeks. 2009 promises to be very concentrated. For malolactic fermentation, everything is natural, but these old cellars with its large stone stores heat of summer and when we go down the wine cellar in October, they are still temperate, which explains malo completed earlier than in other areas .. but this is not it a bit the ‘terroir’?
    (ps Richard, I think you can open your Faconnière 2002, wait 2 hours after opening for service and it should be pretty ..)

  6. Björn Hidding

    Dear all,

    I just had a bottle of the Mont Luisants 2002 and it showed very well after 3-4 hours of decanting. Nevertheless, I assume the wine will age well for another 5-7 years.
    Within the next 2 weeks I hope to be at the domain again to taste the 2008 vintage.If I don not forget I will psot my tasting notes here.
    Since today I appreciate the domaines wines for their backward style in the postitive sense of its meaning. The clear structure of the Pinot noir flavour and the prudent use of new woad makes the wines keep their fine terroir structure.

    Best regards from Germany,
    Björn

  7. otto

    Since about 2 years I know some of the JP Magnien wines – I tried different vintages of the Morey 1er Faconnieres and of the Clos st Denis.
    The only one I did not like – tastet 3 times – was the 1999 Clos St Denis, which is not clear in color and looks a bit muddy whith lots of small bodys in it – perhaps its a failure in keeping or transport. It also is not very delicate. The other Wines wre all very good. Especially the 2000 Clos St Denis with more concentration as the 2002 and still not on the very top. Delicious is the taste of the 2002 Clos St Denis, which has a seductive sweetness and lots of raspberry – a wine you must not think about whats in it – it`s simple good. I will visit the domain some time and hope that Stephane Magnien keeps the moderate prices.

  8. Yange

    We are lucky to be able to find their 2007 Les Faconnieres in Beijing and even luckier having visited their estate this summer. A warm, diligent and HANDSOME Mr Stephane and a dignified JP Magnien welcomed us in their cellar. Beautiful place and beautiful people. We look forward to the elegant, characteristic and seductive 2010 Grand Crus.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?