Domaine Michel Magnien, amphora wines in Burgundy

Frederic Magnien is a pioneer of terracotta in Burgundy, and is making some very smart wines

The gates to the domaine

I was very excited to visit Domaine Michael Magnien in Morey. This domaine (and its associated négociant operation) is pioneering the use of terracotta amphorae in Burgundy, and turning out some very smart wines.

The domaine is 18 hectares, takes in 23 different appellations, and is farmed biodynamically. It has been Demeter certified since 2015, but the process started in 2008 and it was Ecocert certified in 2012, two years after they first implemented biodynamics.

Harvest here is, as you’d expect, completely manual. The grapes are sorted carefully and then there’s some destemming. Frederic personally decides which whole bunches are used, if any, and this is solely his decision and will depend on the wine.

Then Frederic Magnien uses his own name for the négociant side of the business. Some of the grapes here are organic, some are biodynamic, and some are conventionally farmed. They buy grapes, not wine, and they’ve worked for a long time with many of the growers. Both domaine and conventional wines are made in the same cellar, with wild yeasts, and punch down by feet.

The remarkable thing about the cellar is the switch to terracotta, which began in 2015. They have 240 small amphorae, and every two weeks these vessels – which are about 160 litres capacity – need to be topped up.

As well as the amphorae, they have some older small oak and some Stockinger foudres, but clay is clearly the main focus here.

These are really lovely, textural wines with terroir transparency. There isn’t a house style getting in the way.

Domain Michael Magnien Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2017 Bourgogne, France
Vivid, focused red cherry and blackberry fruit nose. The palate shows good concentration and brightness with sweet black cherry fruit and some fine spiciness. This has a dark fruit quality and really nice texture. Such a lovely wine with depth and richness belying the appellation. 92/100

Domain Michael Magnien Marsannay Morgottes Monopole 2016 Bourgogne, France
Intense, floral red cherry and berry fruit nose with some fine spicy notes. The palate is fresh, concentrated and elegant with lovely grainy, taut red fruits. Has nice focus with some structure and good acidity. A complete winet that’s approachable now. 94/100

Domain Michael Magnien Gevrey-Chambertin Seuvrées Vieilles Vignes 2016 Bourgogne, France
60-90 year old vines. This is bright and focused with textured cherry and plum fruit. Nice grip to the structure which is quite firm but has finesse. Lovely cherry and plum fruit with a subtle sappiness and a nice presence. 93/100

Domain Michael Magnien Morey-St-Denis Très Girard 2016 Bourgogne, France
Lovely mouthfeel to this, which is partially aged in terracotta. It is fine-grained and a bit grippy with a stony, earthy edge to the ripe but balanced berry fruits. Structured and potentially long-lived with a nice flourish on the finish. Pretty and engaging. 94/100

Domain Michael Magnien Chambolle Musigny Argillières 2017 Bourgogne, France
Based above Musigny Grand Cru, with lots of clay in the soil. Beautiful floral, sappy nose with sweet plums and some green notes. Fresh, bright and vital with elegant cherry fruit and lovely green notes. This is quite silky and pretty and it’s completely different to the other wines. Good structure as well as elegance. 95/100

Domain Michael Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Millandes 2015 Bourgogne, France
The first year using the terracotta jars. Under the Grand Crus in the curve of the slope, with deeper soils making more rounded wines. This has textured, sweet, quite dense red cherry and plum fruit with nice bright, sweet cherry and plum fruit. Expressive with good structure, and potential for development. 93/100

Domain Michael Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Aux Charmes 2015 Bourgogne, France
Under Clos de la Roche on the Gevrey side. Sweetly aromatic and textured with lovely rounded red cherry and plum fruit, a subtly sweet stewed note, and real elegance and silkiness in the mouth. This has amazing harmony to it, with some red fruit brightness integrated perfectly with the smooth fruit. 95/100

Domain Michael Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Chaffots 2016 Bourgogne, France
Above the Grand Crus with stony soils. This has a lovely, slightly sappy cherry and berry fruit nose. The palate is taut and precise with some bright, structured cherry fruit and lovely grip. Quite firm with good acidity, but linear and pure with potential for development. Nice green hints with some leanness. 94/100

Domain Michael Magnien Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Sentiers 2015 Bourgogne, France
Underneath Bonnes Mares, aged in terracotta amphorae (50%). Supple and sweetly aromatic on the nose with some fresh green hints. This is really elegant and fine, and also quite structured. This has concentration and freshness with nice silkiness and some very well integrated greenness, as well as lovely cherry fruit. Stunning. 96/100

Domain Michael Magnien Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers 2015 Bourgogne, France
33% in amphorae. Very stylish: dense and focused with pure sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit, showing nice structure and acidity. There’s some raspberry freshness here with good structure and purity. Lots of potential. Lovely fruit quality. Big, structured, but fine. 97/100

Domain Michael Magnien Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2016 Bourgogne, France
36% aged in amphora. Complex nose: floral cherry fruit with some fine green notes. There’s a slight beetroot earthy character with some stemminess, but also lovely structure and brightness. Has real personality, a bit of grip, and a big potential for development. Very fine and expressive with lovely freshness and detail. 95/100

Domain Michael Magnien Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2015 Bourgogne, France
60% in amphorae. Supple and fine grained with nice structure and also some freshness. This is detailed and refined with a subtle earthy hint as well as nice sweet cherry and plum fruit. Lovely mouthfeel here with well integrated green notes alongside the substantial red fruit. Concentrated and elegant with potential for development. 96/100

Frederic Magnien

This is a négociant operation.

Frederic Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis Blanc 2015 Bourgogne, France
In conversion to organics. Mainly Chardonnay with some Pinot Beurrot and Pinot Blanc. This is very fresh with a lovely stony character to the lemony fruit, with notes of nuts and dried herbs. Has some warmth to the mid palate but it remains mineral and a bit bony with great precision. Has great elegance. Superb wine. 94/100

Frederic Magnien Chambolle Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2013 Bourgogne, France
Organic. Sappy and bright with vivid raspberry fruit and some fine, green, elegant hints. Shows great elegance and poise with lovely focused red fruits. Has some grip on the finish. Still taut, but with elegance. 94/100

Frederic Magnien Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Borniques 2016 Bourgogne, France
Small plot by Musigny Grand Cru. Organic, aged in terracotta. Such purity, delicacy and finesse here with green-tinged red cherry fruit. There’s focus and vitality here with good structure, and there’s a floral quality to the fruit, as well as good structure. Such a beautiful wine, with astonishing elegance and texture. 96/100

Frederic Magnien Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Feusselottes 2015 Bourgogne, France
Organic. This is compact and elegant with bright red cherry and raspberry fruit, with good structure. Unfurled, with nice density. This is very pure and structured with nice brightness. Good concentration and purity here. Shows real detail. 95/100

Frederic Magnien Charmes-Chambertin Aux Mazoyères Grand Cru 2013 Bourgogne, France
Sweetly aromatic with fine herbal notes alongside the sweet red cherries. Taut, fresh palate with nice brightness and a lovely red fruit core. Still bright but starting to show some development. 93/100

Frederic Magnien Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2013 Bourgogne, France
From plots in the north and south of the main vineyard. Lovely perfume here with nice sweet cherry and plum fruit. Has a twist of spice to it. The palate shows good structure and nice grainy tannins meld well with the red fruits. Has a spicy, herbal twist on the finish. Serious stuff with good structure. 95/100

Frederic Magnien Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes 2003 Bourgogne, France
Some development here with some spicy, herbal notes as well as some undergrowth. The palate has a gorgeous mouthfeel with sweet harmonious cherries and plums, and a bit of earthy detail. Shows maturity and finesse with nice precision and some warmth on the finish. Drinking very well now. 94/100

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