Frédéric Magnien is a 5th generation winemaker who grew up exploring every nook and cranny throughout Burgundy on his bicycle. Learning the craft first from his father, Michel Magnien (of Domaine Michel Magnien), Frédéric broadened his viticultural horizons in California on Josh Jensen’s Calera estate and in Australia with Garry Farr on the Bannockburn Vineyard estate. Upon returning home, he obtained his degree in oenology before establishing a Maison de Vinification (wine trading house) under his own name. Although considered a ‘négociant’ since he does not own his own grapes, Frédéric differentiates himself by consulting closely with the wine growers from whom he sources fruit, enabling him to select plots of mainly old vines (over 40 years of age) from among the noblest of the Bourgogne appellations. All of his vineyard sources are certified organic and practice biodynamic viticulture; and while most négociants buy juice, not grapes , Frédéric’s team picks their own at harvest, yet another method of quality control. With the intention of showcasing the purity of fruit and terroir character, Frédéric ferments on indigenous yeasts before aging his juice in a combination of older François Frères oak and terracotta jarres.
While Maison Frédéric Magnien may be better known for his impressive catalog of wines sourced from historic Premier Cru and Grand Cru terroirs, this more affordable Bourgogne AOC exhibits complexity and beautiful texture that is hard to come by at this price point. Made of 100% Chardonnay and aged in older French oak barrels, it offers aromas of hazelnut, under-ripe pineapple and vanilla, almost suggesting a wine of opulence. However, the palate, which is lush and silky in texture, is quite lean with a vivid and mouthwatering acidity and a cleansing, chalky minerality. Notes of baked yellow apple, Anjou pear and subtle hints of baking spices as in clove and nutmeg emerge on the mid-palate yet they dissipate on the finish which is clean, crisp and bright. For all of you that tend to avoid Chardonnay due to the often overtly buttery and oaky characteristics, this is a fresh and pristine alternative that can be enjoyed easily on its own or paired with roasted fish, steamed clams or a chicken corn chowder!