n 2005 Pascal Mugneret took on the family domaine in Vosne-Romanée – Domaine Gérard Mugneret. A decade later he is In 2005 Pascal Mugneret took on the family domaine in Vosne-Romanée – Domaine Gérard Mugneret. A decade later he is still exploring, still learning.
– One grower here in Vosne-Romanée told me it takes ten years before you understand what you are doing. That is not quite true. I would say it is more like 15 years, Pascal Mugneret smiles.
It all started with Pascal Mugneret’s great-grandfather. He was a timber merchant, not a wine grower. But he owned some vines and with the following generations the domaine grew. Today it covers seven hectares and ten appellations.
– My father took charge of the domaine in 1973, says Pascal Mugneret. Before that he had been working together with his father. As for myself, I started out as an engineer working for Philips. At the time we were living in Lyon. My wife is a teacher. So I said why not, let’s give it a year and see how I like it. In the end I decided to stay, so I took the minimum of courses required at wine school and then bought my parents’ part of the domaine.
– Even if I grew up here there were a lot of things I had to re-discover, he continues. I haven’t made any changes just for the sake of it. I started out trying to understand everything at the domaine, why things were done the way they were.
With the exception of the Savigny-lès-Beaune premier cru Les Gravains the vines of Domaine Gérard Mugneret are all located on the mid-section of the Côte de Nuits, from Nuits-Saint-Georges, via Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny, up to Gevrey-Chambertin. About one third is regional appellations, about one third is village appellations and about one third premier crus. There is also a bit of grand cru, 0.65 hectare of Echézeaux.
– Our parcel of Echézeaux is in Les Quartiers de Nuits, which is just on the southeastern corner of Clos de Vougeot, explains Pascal Mugneret.
He describes his domaine and his wines as a family with ten to 15 kids. All are raised the same way. There is a family resemblance among the wines. The élevage is the same for all, with some differences when it comes to details.
– A good wine grower should take care of both his lesser appellations and his grand crus with the same attention to detail. The regional appellations are usually located in the less favourable places, so they often require more care.
On regional level he makes two wines – a Bourgogne rouge and a Bourgogne Passetoutgrains. The latter has a higher percentage of pinot noir than required. Instead of one third pinot noir and two thirds gamay the wine has equal proportions of the two grape varieties.
– For the Bourgogne rouge we have one parcel just as you leave Vosne-Romanée. There is one parcel just opposite of Clos de Vougeot. And we have one opposite of Chambolle-Musigny. They are all next to the route nationale.
– With its alluvial soil coming from the valley that opens up between Vosne-Romanée and Vougeot the parcel opposite of Clos de Vougeot is particularly interesting. The Chambolle parcel is also opposite a valley. The least interesting parcel is the one at the exit of Vosne-Romanée, where the soil is less alluvial and more heavy.
Two thirds of the Bourgogne rouge vines are 50 years old. The rest are 25 years old.
The village Vosne-Romanée comes from 15 different parcels all around the village. In total the vines for this wine cover one hectare and a half. The parcels vary in size, from just four ares up to half a hectare.
– Some of these parcels could very well be vinified and bottled separately, but I’m happy with how things are now. The largest parcels are in La Colombière, Le Pré de la Folie and Les Réas. Most of the vines are between 40 and 50 years old.
The Les Gravains parcel in Savigny-lès-Beaune was bought by Pascal Mugneret’s parents from Patrick Jacob at Domaine Jacob-Girard in 1994. Les Gravains is on the same south facing slope as Aux Serpentières and Les Lavières.
– Savigny-lès-Beaune is a bit far from Vosne-Romanée, but it’s a nice parcel. It’s got real character. Very well-drained soil.
Back home in Vosne-Romanée he has two premier crus – Les Suchots and Les Brulées, both located in the northeastern corner of the commune.
– Our Les Suchots is just next to Les Beaux Monts of Domaine Leroy. In the past this part was called Les Grands Suchots. Our Les Brulées is below Richebourg. The vines are 50 years old. You have Les Brulées on both sides of the road to Concœur – one part next to Richebourg and one next to Les Beaux Monts. In Les Brulées my neighbours are Domaine Méo-Camuzet, Domaine Michel Gros and Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair. Since 2012 we have been using 20 per cent whole bunches. This will probably increase in the future.
Pascal Mugneret uses organic principles, but has decided not to become certified. Even if it’s never been necessary he wants to have the freedom to use whatever he wants to be able to save the harvest in a difficult year.
– I use the same protocol as the biodynamic crowd, he says. Admittedly, in 2012 I bought some other products, but they were never used.
As a winemaker what inspires Pascal Mugneret is finding the best possible interpretation of the appellation and the vintage. The work in the vineyard is very important. The goal is to obtain a nice balance in the raw material, the grapes.
– We are here to assist the vines. The result all depends on how the grower sees his role. Once the wine is in bottle; after a few years you will begin so see if the vintage and the appellation have been used to their full potential.
– If you have a vintage without real concentration, like 2008, which isn’t a monster in any way, and you start thinking about making it more concentrated I think you are making a mistake. Because it is not the identity of the vintage.
© 2015 Ola Bergman