Breaking the cycle. Frédéric Mugnier reins in the Musigny.

Supply of Burgundy has been tight since the generous 2009 vintage. Meanwhile international demand has risen pushing the price of many of the grand and top premier crus ever higher. Many a wine lover will be looking at their cellar, watching the bottles diminish, maybe drinking the mature vintages, but unable to replace them with the top wines of the current vintage from the domaines to which they have become accustomed. For those fortunate to snaffle some of Burgundy’s stellar wines from the twenty or so domaines which have reached celebrity status, will they, would you, drink them?

Frédéric Mugnier, who makes exquisite wine in Chambolle at Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, shakes his head at the situation. He’s aware that some of his customers, those old faithfuls who can still afford to buy a mixed case of his wine, may no longer actually drink the sublime grand cru Musigny in the case, but sell it to finance drinking the gorgeous 1er cru Amoureuses. Frédéric saddened by the situation. Like most vignerons he’d like his wine to go to a good home, to be lovingly cared for and eventually to be savoured by someone who appreciates its beauty, but he’s wise to the fact that, increasingly, this is no longer the case.

But his greatest bugbear is with restaurants where the great wines of Burgundy have no chance to chalk up a minimum of years to break out of baby speak let alone become an eloquent expression of their great terroir. “It’s rare to find wines in restaurants with more then three years in the bottle,” he sighs. “Restaurants are places where people make discoveries and they may be disappointed and give up.” Added to which these wines must compete with wines engineered to be precocious, which is not what grand cru from Burgundy should be. He is most concerned about the fate of Musigny. Bonnes-Mares and Les Amoureuses show more of their personality in youth.

So he made the decision not to release Musigny at the same time as his other wines, but to mature it for a few years. He has not yet decided how many. He’s taken back control and this has got some people hot under the collar. They argue the purchaser should decide when a wine should be drunk. I guess he who makes the wines, calls the shots.