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Frédéric Magnien

A matter of consistency

Winemaker at Morey-Saint-Denis, Frédéric Magnien has embarked on an original elevage program. He ages some of his wines in terracotta containers (jars, amphorae). A way for him to be in perfect harmony with his practice of biodynamics in the vineyards.

Paolo Basso et Frédéric Magnien

Frédéric Magnien is one of those men who likes to move the lines. Fifteen years ago it was not uncommon to find wines aged 80% in new oak barrels in his remarkable range of Grands Crus (Clos de la Roche, Clos Saint-Denis, Charmes-Chambertin, Bonnes Mares, etc.). Radical change since a few vintages: his Charmes-Chambertin “Aux Charmes 2015”, for example, was entirely matured in terracotta jars  (160 liters), without contact with wood. 2015 is precisely the vintage that made him jump ahead. He explains: “The idea is to have a micro-oxygenation necessary for the maturation of the wine, which is allowed by the porosity of the terracotta, but without the flavor of the wood. The woodiness can last after 10 years of bottle aging”. Thus for him the expression of the grape, and finally of the soil, is no longer blurred by the vegetable and organic contribution of oak. He thus offers his curious, sometimes skeptics, visitors to taste four samples from the same terroir and vinified identically: a Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Les Chaffots 2018. The first is aged in wood (oak barrel and demi-muid), the second in amphora (larger than the jar), the third in jars. And finally the fourth which results from a blend in varied proportions of the different elevage methods. If it is this last option that often gets the most votes from the wine lovers, Frédéric Magnien prefers the elevage in terracotta. “It makes wines more digestible, crystalline and original”.

A search for purity that is consistent with his work in the vineyard done at Domaine Michel Magnien and at the Frederic Magnien trade: biodynamics. Because it is also one of the battlehorses of the Morey-Saint-Denis winemaker. Two years after the restoration of the family estate (18 hectares) in 2008, he undertook a total conversion of his vineyard after going through the organic stage. No chemical input is used in both cases but a significant difference for him: "Organic culture maintains life naturally in the soil; biodynamics stimulates and revives the terroirs". An approach still largely a minority among his colleagues, but maybe it's only a matter of time ...

Frédéric Magnien is undeniably a precursor. The subject of elevage in terracotta is gradually taking over people's minds in Burgundy. It is observed, or even tested, by a growing number of large estates or houses. “I like to bring my stone to the building, to give ideas, to make think”. Mission accomplished.

Laurent Gotti



Paolo Basso’s reviews

Michel Magnien Gevrey-Chambetin 1er Cru - Les Goulots 2017
70% in terracotta jars, 30% in oak barrels
Fairly dense dark ruby-red colour with garnet-red shades. Beautiful expressive nose of good maturity with aromas of blackberries and black cherries. Dense and savory palate with a solid and intense structure, firm and numerous tannins. Juicy, long and expressive with an intense retro-olfaction. A grand wine.

Fréderic Magnien Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru - Aux Charmes 2015
100% in terracotta jars
Light clear ruby-red colour with garnet-red shades. Beautiful intense aromatic range with aromas of fresh plums, cocoa, roasted coffee, black cherry jam, a hint of leather. Beautiful dense, round and well-structured palate, lovely sweetness, a developed body, very polished and round tannins, a long, persistent and creamy finish. An exceptional wine.