Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils, Santenay


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Country & RegionFrance, Burgundy
Appellation(s)Santenay
ProducerClaude and Hervé Muzard
FoundedThe family traces its lineage in Santenay back to 1666. Claude and Hervé took over the reins from their father, Lucien, in 1995.

In his day, Lucien Muzard put together a remarkable string of vineyard holdings in Santenay (with tiny lots in Chassagne rouge territory and in Pommard). He began at a young age with three-quarters of an acre of vines, replanted 12 acres, then went on to buy additional parcels as they came up over the years.

In 1995 Lucien Muzard handed over the reins to his sons Claude and Hervé, who immediately began domain bottling their wine rather than selling it in bulk to négociants. Subsequently, in 2003 they purchased small bins for harvesting to keep crushing to a minimum. That same year they acquired a new temperature-controlled fermentation facility and stocked it with wooden fermentation vats, a new press, sorting table, and conveyor belt to carry grapes to vat without pumping— all enabling great care to be taken during fermentation and ageing. In 2005 they went organic in their vineyards, and then in 2008 they began the conversion to biodynamics, attaining certification with the 2011 vintage. During the incessant rains of the long, cold spring of 2012 they abandoned certification in order to use a systematic fungicide. The calculus was simple: copper, a contact application, washes off with each rain, requiring a new application. With a little moisture pressure, no problem; with a lot of rainfall, however, the carbon footprint of a tractor combined with the compaction of the soil and the trace amounts of heavy metal poisoning the dirt add up quickly into something that is not benign at all. This calculus was made even more simple by the fact that the spring rains of 2012 were so heavy that it became impossible to drive a tractor into many vineyards. Without any treatment, the entire crop was at risk.

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That experience has led the brothers to a sustainable farming path. In the final analysis, they would argue that in Burgundy, with its wet, northern climate, a sustainable path might well be the better path of wisdom. These boys trace their lineage in Santenay back to 1645; they see themselves as part of a long tradition of farmers, and the sustainability of their domain is paramount.

They continue to plow their rows and shun any use of herbicides or pesticides, let alone chemical fertilizers. During fermentation, normally a third or more of the grapes are left on their stems, and there’s no addition of cultivated yeast or the use of enzymes. Elevage takes place in barrels, 20-25% of which were new each year until 2013 — when, exceptionally, no new wood was used because the vintage was elegant and fruity and because they had a lot of one-year-old barrels from the preceding year. Subsequently, they made the decision to gently ratchet back their regiment of new oak, and to invest in 3,000-liter foudres for the aging of the premier crus (the 2015 Maladière was the first to go into a big cask). They also stopped punch downs in the cellar in 2013 and went with a new, super gentle system of pumping over the juice (the juice is sprayed onto the cap like a fine rain shower). The reds are not fined and are only lightly filtered at bottling.

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Today, the brothers Muzard work 13.15 hectares (32.5 acres) of their own vines, and bottle these wines with mise en bouteilles à la propriété written on the labels. They farm another 3 hectares (7.5 acres) of rented vines, whose wines can be identified by mise en bouteilles dans nos caves on the labels. As the notes below indicate, Santenay has a plentitude of origins. It is here that the Côte d’Or ends and turns corner in a fractured series of geographical faults, making for profound differences in soil makeup and expositions. Contrary to popular opinion, Santenay’s terroir is no simple thing.

The Wines

WineBlendDescription
Bourgogne Rouge
Pinot NoirThis comes from parcels in Maranges and in Santenay, plus a one- hectare (2.47-acre)parcel the Muzard brothers own up in the Hautes Côtes. Raised half in tank and half in barrel.
Santenay Vieilles VignesPinot NoirThis comes from several parcels, the biggest being Clos des Hâtes. Total surface is 1.40 hectares (3.46 acres) and production averages 750 cases per year.
Santenay Champs Claude Vieilles VignesPinot NoirChamps Claude borders the Chassagne-Montrachet appellation with some nice pedigree, coming up as it does under the greater Morgeot vineyards to abut the 1er cru Clos Chareau. Moreover, the vines date from the 1920s and average a venerable 75 years of age. The domain owns 2.69 hectares (6.64 acres) and makes roughly 1,400 cases in a normal year.
Santenay 1er Cru Les Gravières
Pinot NoirThe largest premier cru in the northern tenderloin, named after its gravel content. Indeed, much of the north side of the village is defined by one geographical fault, and the vineyards here share many characteristics, with their wines being notable for complexity and length. The domain’s holding is 1.34 hectares (3.31 acres) and the vines average 50 years of age. Production averages 580 cases yearly.
Santenay 1er Cru Clos des Tavannes

Pinot NoirThe Muzard brothers farm just under one hectare (2.5 acres) and make some 350 cases each year. This wine sees the most new oak during aging, which is to say around 25% new oak.
Santenay 1er Cru Clos Faubard
Pinot NoirAnother northern vineyard, this one up high where the slope climbs into scrubland. The soil here, as in other parcels on this side of the village, has the same Bajocian marl limestone that is found in the Côte de Nuits—and not found elsewhere in the Côte de Beaune. Faubard’s wine is marked by intense spice and grip. The domain, one of three owners of this vineyard, has 1.47 hectares (3.63 acres) here and makes roughly 750 cases each year.
Santenay 1er Cru La Maladière
Pinot NoirMaladière takes its name from malady, referring to sickness. Maladière’s hill rises steeply up behind the lower village and gets bathed in sunshine. Thus long ago in the distant dark ages this hillside was considered a healthy place to house the leper colony (now what marketer would ever tell you that?). Maladière has some of the same Côte de Nuits limestone as Faubard, giving the iron minerality underpinning in the wine. Maladière is a cooler site than the vineyard sites on the north side of the village, and is known to produce the most feminine wines, with perfume and elegance. The brothers have 4.82 hectares (11.91 acres) here, a significant holding, and produce as much as 2,500 cases in a good year.
Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles VignesPinot NoirThis comes from 0.14 hectare (0.34 acre) of 85-year-old vines growing next to Champs Claude in the lieu dit of Les Grandes Terres. There are three lieux dits in this short stretch of village land, and they all actually belong to the commune of Rémigny, whose seat is across the route nationale. Rémigny isn’t known for wine, and no doubt for that reason the two vineyards to the north are legally classed as Chassagne-Montrachet, while the one to the south nearer to Santenay is classed as Santenay. Production of the Muzard Chassagne averages four to five barrels per year (figure 25 cases to a barrel). The old vines give this wine exceptional fruit and structure.