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interesting: mugnier and musigny…

Now isn’t this interesting.
mugnier-musigny
  Pic stolen from a Facebook post…

I have to say that I never really thought of Freddy Mugnier and Château Latour as bed-fellows, though I do understand the ‘stance’ and knowing FM, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the money. But my question is, ‘what does several years mean?’ Even through a ‘cell phone’ baby Musigny is indisputably more fabulous than 99.9% of all other similar age burgundies. Clearly it is a very different experience to drinking a wine at 20-25(+) years-old, but relevant and something that it would be a shame to miss – all in my opinion of-course.

I actually believe that most of the ‘wasted’ bottles are those drunk between 3 and 10 years-old, depending on the vintage, when they are adolescent, angular or tight. So I really hope that Frederic doesn’t mean seven when he writes several.

An additional ‘issue’ suggests itself; if the source of ‘new’ Musigny dries up for ‘several years’ won’t people be pushed to drink even more adolescent wine?

18 responses to “interesting: mugnier and musigny…”

  1. Claude Kolm

    I agree with the decision. I used to think Musigny was so amazing that it drank well young, but the more experience I have with it, I think it really needs +/- 20 years for its truly amazing qualities to come out.

    I don’t think holding back this wine will cause much other wine to be drunk too young because it isn’t a whole lot that’s being held back.

  2. Simon

    I agree with the decision. And – M. Mugnier will – almost certainly – get a better price for his wine. So be it. I can’t afford it and probably will never buy it. But I will focus on a more immediately satisfying purchase in a lesser appelation. Which will prove, in the circumstances of food, space and time, give me equal satisfaction. I am satisfied with the knowledge that he knows that his exceptional wine will have a greater utility by those who have the circumstances to drink it.

  3. mike

    Mugnier joins a few others who have the desire to see their wines consumed closer to their optimum.. I am inclined to support Claude in his opinion. Having had many vintages of great Burgundy I find myself drinking what is left from my days in retail. People could actually afford these wines years ago but the international market and its money have taken all prices over the top.. We are now forced to look for good drinkers from other areas of the world that charge less. The French still have the handle on many of the great vineyards of the world.

  4. Claude Kolm

    It’s worth noting that Mugnier could have kept back a lot of Musigny simply by raising the price to very high levels so that most of it went unsold at original release. That way, the very, very, very rich would have been able to drink it young, but nobody else. But those who know him know that isn’t the way he operates, and in fact he has long been upset by the prices his wines were bringing in the secondary market, as have many other producers.

  5. kmilani

    To debate your point # 3: my observation is only the grandest of Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines increase in retail price in 10 years or 20 years at a rate that makes an economic case for purchasing and holding young wines until they are old.

    Even JF Mugnier Musigny’s record doesn’t hold up to your argument. So buy a 96 or 2000 Musigny for about $750 or $800 (USA) and hold for 5 years before drinking. Or for the same money buy a 2008 or 2011 and hold for 10 or 15 before drinking. Easy choice for me – I’d buy the older wines.

    There are non-economic reasons to buy and hold. There are also plenty of non-economic reasons to buy old and drink it soon – not the least of which is the certainty of my death and the unknowable date of my expiration.

    You (of all people!) must be kidding about longer term storage of 2004s.

    How is the weather over there, and more to the point how do the grapes and vines look?

  6. Claude Kolm

    kmilani makes a good point about the price of older wines. Using (non-pro) wine-searcher, 2012 Musigny from Mugnier is only slightly less expensive than 1999 and 2002 and is more expensive than the 2001. It is considerably more expensive than other vintages such as 1995, 2000, 2004, 2007.

  7. Claude Kolm

    Bill — I think your worrying is premature. First, those who buy the wines when later released will have the money to invest during the intervening time so that they will be able to afford to pay more. Second, Mugnier isn’t interested in penalizing people who drink the wine for pleasure with their friends. As I’m sure you know, he was badly burned by a collector who got huge allocations on the representation that the wines would be consumed in situations where they would be enjoyed by a wide variety of wine lovers. Instead, the wines were collected for a number of years and then sent to auction where they achieved huge prices (and profits for the collector). I think there’s an excellent chance that when the wines are released they will be at “reasonable” prices, provided Mugnier can be assured that the wines will be consumed and enjoyed by the people who buy them. He affirmatively wants the wines to be enjoyed by people and is disturbed by the amounts of money paid for the wines. Several other producers are also exploring ways to get their wines into the hands of non-billionaires who will enjoy them instead of flipping them (although to be fair, there are other producers who seem to like the idea of only the ultra-rich being able to consume their wine).

    Just a comment on using wine-searcher for comparison: It sounds as though your marketplace operates differently than here in the US. I never see “collectible” wines at their original release price — retailers mark them up to the going-rate price except possibly for a few bottles that are never offered to the public and go to their biggest (read richest) customers as rewards for all that they have spent with the retailer in the previous year.

  8. Claude Kolm

    Bill — You say you never accused Fred of wanting to penalize anyone. But from your reply to my original post:

    “People who actually do buy young wine and store it for the future (I’m waiting probably at least another 10 years for my 98s, 99s and god knows how long for the 2004!) will be PENALIZED, because you can be pretty sure that 10 year-old Musigny, direct from the producer, will cost way more than it does as a new vintage, and significantly more-so than the sunk cost plus storage.” (Emphasis added.)

    It’s true that you didn’t accuse him of specifically wanting to penalize anyone, but that’s a red herring because I never characterized your statement that way. I just said that there was a good chance that his future policy would ameliorate or avoid the penalty that you insist will occur.

    Why is it ridiculous to invest the money while waiting? $200 invested for 15 years at 8% will yield you $635 — quite a long way to getting the wine at the value at that point, especially for people such as you who apparently have access to non-flipper prices.

    From what I know, there’s a lot more to what’s going on with DRC’s distribution through Wilson-Daniels than you apparently do, although I don’t know how much I’m permitted to say, so I’ll just have ignore your last comment as wrong.

  9. Howard

    I agree with most of what Bill has said on this.

    I remember when Latour did this. They were explicit about their reasons: the wines were not for drinking on release, they were a lot more valuable with good long-term cellaring and they wanted to capture the premium of the difference between the release price and the mature bottle price. They wanted that premium, rather than it going to investors or speculators. Fair enough. That’s business.

    Here, similarly, Mugnier can do what they want. It’s their wine. I’m not saying they are trying to capture the premium for bottle age like Latour. Perhaps they genuinely are being altruistic and trying to save consumers and collectors from themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was, as they state, their objective but it doesn’t help a small time collector like me.

    Now I can stretch to a bottle or two en primeur and cellar them as long as I think appropriate. Under the new scheme I’m not notionally going to put the money I would otherwise pay in an accumulating account today on the off chance I can get some bottles in (say) 2022. In 2022, if I get offered 2015 Mugnier, I’m not going to think ‘that might look unaffordable but I’ll buy it because it’s not so bad applying a discounted cashflow analysis’ .

    I’m not questioning Mugnier’s motives or absolute right to do this. I’m just saying I can’t see how the scheme can be a positive for someone like me.

    Cheers, Howard

  10. Claude Kolm

    Bill — By your tone, you seem quite upset with what I’ve written and the fact that I’ve taken a different position from yours and provided reasons why I think my position is correct. I view the matter under discussion here as one of opinion and one on which reasonable minds can differ. Therefore, all that is required for one not to give offense is that the discussion be civil. I had thought that I was civil in all my prior posts, and if I wasn’t, I apologize for that and assure you and others that no incivility was intended.

    1. Yes, you are correct — in order to add the emphasis by capitalizing the word, it was necessary for me to rewrite it and I inadvertently used the American spelling rather than your British spelling in the original.

    2. I used 8% because it is the annualized rate of return (including reinvestment of dividends) of the S&P 500 over the last ten years. Maybe it’s a difference in cultures, but that’s the way I (and I think many Americans) look at as an indicator of what we can expect for long term use of money that we are not spending. It involves risk, it is true, but fixed-income investments involve risk, too, even though of a different sort (inflation and solvency of obligor). And purchasing wine on release involves risks, too. Nothing is certain in life.

    3. I have discussed the matter many times over the years with Aubert, but I’m not sure that he would want me to repeat here what we have discussed. However, your commentary does point to a possible misunderstanding of Wilson, Daniels. Corney & Barrow operates as both an importer and a retailer. Wilson, Daniels basically* is an importer that may then distribute itself or sell to other distributors with the wines then being passed on from distributor to retailers — our infamous three-tier system. That adds (significant) extra layers of costs to those who are lucky enough to receive offers to purchase DRC wines from a retailer; this situation is quite different, I believe, from the that in the UK. However, in a globalized marketplace for wine as we now have, there are always arbitrage opportunities between countries which can distort markets — it is a serious problem that the whole trade is struggling with, and I have discussed aspects of it with a number of Burgundy’s most highly sought-after producers.

    *There is a very limited exception to this assertion that I will ignore here, but if I did address it, it would further support my position.

  11. Claude Kolm

    P.S. — Your response to my next most recent post seems to infer that I might have been accusing Wilson, Daniels if improper behavior (“miss-demeanors”). That is not the implication of what I wrote and therefore is an incorrect inference.

  12. Dan Perrelli

    Bill’s comments are spot on and useful because they ask the simple question, why?, given what we all KNOW. Re Wilson-Daniels, Mr. Villaine is totally conversant with their methods. DRC is the drug used to control distributors and retailers buying habits for wines OTHER than DRC. These ‘tie-ins’ are illegal in most US markets and no one cares.

  13. not half good – 1999 mugnier chambolle

    […] that I’m very happy to have drunk that young bottle, despite Frederic deciding it’s not up to us when to drink them). I’ve had a couple of Amoureuses too – the last 2 years ago – […]

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