A vertical of Grand Cru Echezeaux from Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg

This was a tasting dinner at Noble Rot with cousins Marion Nauleau-Mugneret and Lucie Teillaud-Mugneret of Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg, in which we got to drink seven vintages of their Echezeaux (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2008, 1996).

Their great grandparents André Mugneret and Jeanne Gibourg created the domaine in the 1930s. They bought a hotel in Vosne-Romanée in 1934 but had to take the vineyard with it (such was the low regard for winegrowing in the region at the time). Jeanne had two brothers, and came from a farming family. At the time it was better to have cows that vineyards, and the brothers got the farm, while she got some money to buy a house and vineyards, which was seen as a worse deal. The grapes were sold to negociants. Their only son Dr Georges Mugneret had more of an interest in winegrowing, and he expanded the domaine from the 50s until his untimely death at 59 in 1988.

Lucie and Marion flanked by Mark Andrew and Dan Keeling of Noble Rot

Marion’s mother and Lucie’s mother have managed things for the last 30 years, and it now boasts 9 hectares of vines in 10 appellations. Before 2009 it was still run as two different domaines, but now it is just one. Significantly, in 2016 they got 16 hectares that were in sharecropping back: they were offered the four hectares as long as they kept the employees. This expansion was a prompt to lure Lucie and Marion back to the family vineyards. Lucie had been working as an engineer, while Marion had been working in Reims in the Champagne world.  Marion’s sister fanny also works with them managing the guest house.

How does sharecropping work? It depends on the region, as the rules differ. Their grandfather started share cropping in the 1960s, because he was working 4 days a week as a doctor and 3 days a week as a winegrower. Someone else farms the vines, and for this they get half the crop. Their Echezeaux holding was under this sort of sharecropping for a long time. It’s an oral agreement, but normally it is for 18 years, and if you say nothing the year before it ends, it carries on. In 2016 they got half their vineyard back: normally if you want to do this, there is a financial penalty. After 8 years the sharecroppers can say that they want to put the vineyard into fermage, which is where they keep all the grapes and pay an agreed fee for the half that they normally wouldn’t be entitled to.

This Echezeaux is a blend of two parcels in this sizeable (38 hectare) Grand Cru: ‘Les Rouges du Bas’ (this is iron-rich soil that’s well aerated with cous cous-like sand) and ‘Les Quartières de Nuits’. They are not organic, but are HVE sustainably certified, and use no herbicides.

They have 380 private customers, and because the domaine grew up with these customers they want to keep them, which means selling their wines at below the actual market value. They are offered 12 bottles each. Since 2018 they have taken on new private customers and these are offered 6 bottles. These private customers account for 15% of their volume, and then they sell the rest to restaurants and wine stores, and also export (50%).

Winemaking is mainly destemmed. 2016 was the first year of whole bunch use for this wine, when they did 15-20% because they needed more volume in the vat.

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 2016 Bourgogne, France
This was a frost year, and just three barrels were made. This has lovely concentration. Powerful with dense, structured red cherry and berry fruit. It’s dense with nice fruit intensity. Power and structure here with good weight and focus. 96/100

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 2017 Bourgogne, France
This was a classical vintage, a fresh year. Very fine and delicate with lovely precision. Floral red cherries and spice as well as a twist of iodine. Juicy and mineral, and not at all heavy. Great balance here. A slightly lighter style with good structure nonetheless. 95/100

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 2014 Bourgogne, France
This was the year of Drosophila suzukii, the fruit fly that can oviposit through the skin of the grape and which cause lots of issues with sour rot. It’s also a vintage that evolved quite fast. Lovely fruit quality: this is ripe and textured with red cherry and plum notes and good concentration and structure. Nice precision here: so fine. 97/100

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 2015 Bourgogne, France
Powerful, vivid, structured and refined with lots of raspberry and cherry fruit as well as grippy, tannic structure. So concentrated and vivid but also quite vital. Fresh and grainy with purity and nice fruit. A big wine. 96/100

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 2008 Bourgogne, France
This was hard to taste when it was young, apparently, because of its high acidity. Complex finely spiced nose with lovely raspberry and cherry fruit. Quite precise with a nice acid line, and developing beautifully. There is a slight drying quality to the tannins, but the overall impression is of a juicy, vivid wine with good acidity. 96/100

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 2011 Bourgogne, France
This was an early vintage harvested on the 1st of September. Powerful and structured with lovely raspberry and cherry fruit with some nice grippy structure. Some notes of earth and iodine with lovely balance between the sweet cherry and berry fruit and the refined structure. Supple with real elegance allied to power. 96/100

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 2013 Bourgogne, France
A very cool vintage with harvest at the beginning of October. It was a rainy year, and this was the last October harvest. Powerful and structured with vibrant red cherry and raspberry fruit. Nice density and purity here with red fruits to the fore and nice purity. There’s appropriate grippy structure. This is structured and fine and still youthful. 97/100

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 1996 Bourgogne, France
Such presence here: vibrant, with lovely ripe raspberry and cherry fruit and some firm structure hiding underneath. There’s great focus here and good acidity. So fresh and fine, showing just a little development. Very fine. 97/100