Just 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Was a little gassy and hard to evaluate but there seems good concentration and balance with some soft, well-mannered tannin
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.