Domaine Bernard Regnaudot Maranges 1er Cru 'Clos des Loyeres' 2019
This much-awarded wine, from an appellation you have probably never heard of, is the standard-bearer for the Maranges. When we first arrived in Burgundy, neighboring Santenay was considered rustic and undrinkable. All that has changed. And now it’s the turn of Maranges to come into the fold. Producers like the Regnaudots have been making it happen for a decade now.
The ‘Clos des Loyeres’ has pronounced elegant earthy notes of underbush and bramble. This Premier Cru displays Black cherry as the dominant fruit, also red plum and dried cranberry. Medium tannins and the high acidity results in good complexity with some spices including cocoa lingering into a long finish.. A classy example of what Maranges can be. You have to try this.
BERNARD AND FLORIAN REGNAUDOT
Bernard Regnaudot arrived in Dezizes-les Maranges in 1996, but he is a third-generation vigneron. Soft-spoken and discreet, he works just under 16 acres of vineyards with his son, Florian. He is considered one of the ‘locomotives’ of the appellation Maranges, a tiny strip of vineyards stretching out to the west of Santenay in the direction of the Couchois.
Maranges was an ‘untouchable’ when we first arrived in burgundy 30 years ago. Back then, Santenay was considered rustic. And no one spoke of the Maranges. But all that has changed!
A modern, forward thinking generation has applied quality standards to the production of these once peripheral appellations. Yield limits, plantation of quality clones, good vineyard technique, all play in the final product. Everyone always knew that it was possible to make great wine here. It just took the right winemaker to make it happen.
The Regnaudots are meticulous in their vineyard work. Long winter preparation is not the most glamorous part of winemaking, but it is essential. And literally nipping the yields in the bud come springtime is also critical. At the height of the growing season, their vines look like textbook versions of ‘cordon de royat’ pruning: perfectly aligned grapes, evenly spaced, with just enough leaf cover to protect the fruit but not so much as to risk rot.
Harvest is done by hand, of course. And spirits are high because the quality is there.
Vinification is 100% destemmed. 5-7 days of pre-fermentation, then 2 weeks of slow fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Very little pushing down because the aim is to keep the wine supple, fresh and fruity. Then 12 months in French oak, with 25% new oak. Bottling is usually done in December of the following year.
BURGUNDY 2019 VINTAGE
There’s a popular saying here in Burgundy which points out that, since the start of the 20th century, vintages ending in ‘9’ have been exceptional. So when 2019 came around, we were secretly anticipating something special. Little did we know!
Every vintage comes with its own hyperbole: best of the decade; greatest of the century; another 1990. And it’s true, as the climate continues to warm, there has been some remarkable wine produced in recent years. But in Burgundy in 2019, it got hot.
Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like to come to maturity slowly. Too much heat cooks the elegance out of them. So climate change is an existential issue for Burgundy wine as we know it.
But in 2019 something remarkable happened. I hesitate to call it a paradigm shift; it may well be a one-off. But in a year where, in some places, grapes turned to raisins on the vine, Burgundy has given us a vintage worthy of the hyperbole.
You won’t find many lacey, delicate wines this year. The vintage will be unapologetically bold and unbelievably concentrated. The whites are indulgent, often explosive, and pinned to a mind-bogglingly good acidic framework, given the summer heat. The reds are sophisticated and elegant, alive.
Perhaps most tellingly, despite the hot summer, this was not one of those late-August harvests that we’re getting accustomed to. The harvest got underway in the Cote de Beaune on 12 September. And some in the Cote de Nuits did not begin picking until the 23rd. The fruit was ripe earlier, but the fine conditions allowed the growers to wait for the holy grail: phenolic maturity.
You rarely get fruit maturity (the sugar part of the equation) plus phenolic maturity (the tannins in the pips and stems) coming together at the same time. Usually you sacrifice one for the other. You can’t force it to happen. Nature bestows it upon you. But when it does happen, that, almost by definition, is a great vintage.
2019 will be a great vintage. Think 2018 with more energy. The only downside is that, as opposed to the bumper crop we saw in 2018, 2019 was a small crop. Down by as much as 60% in the southern zones where it was hottest.
Let’s look quickly at how the season developed. The winter 2018/19 was mild, with higher than average temperatures in December and February. There was a lot of rain in December which many claim could ultimately have saved the vintage from the summer’s drought.
Spring was warm and the growth cycle started earlier than usual. There were precocious zones with bud burst in early April. But cold weather set in on 5 April with frost in many areas. Frost damage would have an effect on yields, particularly in the Maconnais. The cold weather held on through mid-April with several consequential frost risks.
Warm weather returned in May and remained until early June when temperatures dropped again, slowing growth again and hindering flowering. There was a good bit of flower abortion (millerandage), which, again, took its part of the yield at harvest.
Then mid-summer was hot-hot And dry-dry. The vines, for the most part, were in good shape going into the heat wave, but the stress was excessive. Vines handled the conditions differently from one plot to the next. Consensus is that old vines, with their deep roots, were able to find water in the subsoil. And that younger, well-tended vines, had a similar advantage. Vines with roots that went looking for water near the surface, however, suffered towards the end of the season, as they scorched and shriveled.
There was just a bit of rain in August, and from then on through September was hot but fine. In certain areas Pinot Noir ripened before Chardonnay, so harvest planning was complicated. The first Cremant vineyards were picked at the very end of August, and the harvest continued through to mid-October.
Harvest was a joy for the most part. Good weather. No disease. And the fruit that survived frost and fire was beautiful. Fermentation in both white and red went off easily. Whites finished slowly, gently, giving balance and purity. The length of red fermentation varied a lot, but the tannins are fine and the wine has vigor.
COTE DE BEAUNE
The Maranges area, which grows mainly Pinot Noir plus some Chardonnay, forms a link between the Côte-d’Or and the Saône-et-Loire. Its vineyards are interlocked with those of neighbouring Santenay, with which it shares some well-thought-of Premiers Crus. Maranges was granted its own AOC Village in 1988 covering the three villages of Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Dezize-lès-Maranges and Sampigny-lès-Maranges. The surrounding countryside has a character of its own - gentle and warm-hearted - which has been lovingly described by the Burgundian writer Henri Vincenot. The charmingly old-fashioned homes of the winemakers provide perfect subjects for a painter’s brush.
Maranges reds are a brilliant raspberry red. Its fruit notes are blackcurrant and spicy. The wines are warm juicy, with a tannic structure that has become delicate and subtle, as producers have learned to produce softer tannins. Licorice and pepper are the foundations that this otherwise fruity Pinot are based upon. Generally for early drinking, but with a good acidic balance to keep them fresh for years.
As with nearly every village in this zone, the plantation of Chardonnay is on the rise. These whites are gold and full of white floral notes prevalent in the zone. Flinty minerality adds depth and length. These are wines that are rounded and subtle with many of the refined aspects of their more famous neighbors.
Though the hill-slopes are differently oriented to those of the Côte de Beaune, their nature and origins are geologically the same, making up a varied patchwork of hills and valleys. The vineyards mostly have a South/South-westerly exposure and lie at altitudes of 240-400 metres. Cheilly, in the valley of the Cozanne, has rather light pebbly soils. Sampigny and Dezize share the Climats which lie to the South of Santenay on brown limestone soils and limey marls.
Reds - Pinot Noir
Whites - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 156.5 ha (including 79 ha premier cru)
Whites : 10.6 ha (including 4.5 ha premier cru)
The reds of Maranges can be velvety but quite firm, with tannins that need roasted meats with a crunchiness: roast fowl (dark or white meat), roast lamb, or rabbit. These wines also go well with country pâtés. For cheese, go for creaminess Brillat-Savarin, Brie or Reblochon.
On the label, the appellations 'Maranges’' and 'Maranges 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Clos de la Boutière
Clos de la Fussière
Le Clos des Loyères
Le Clos des Rois
Le Croix Moines
Les Clos Roussots
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit:
A la Croix de Bois
La Tête de Fer
Le Bas des Loyères
Le Bas du Clos
Les Regains Nord
Les Regains Sud
Sous les Roseaux
Sur la Rigole
Sur la Rue des Pierres
Sur la Verpillère
Sur le Bois Nord
Sur le Bois Sud
Sur le Chêne