On that subject, a book could be composed—a column couldn’t do the subject justice.
But this story is purely territorial—the tale of two tipples, identical in price and weight; one from the extreme northern nose of the Côte d’Or, the other from the southern tail, each representing a solid, entry-level example of what their appellations can do.
Marsannay; Easy To Say
Marsannay sits in a golden eyrie atop the most northerly appellations of Burgundy. It encompasses three villages extending to Dijon, where the wine stops and the mustard begins. Although Marsannay is the only Côte d’Or appellation allowed to make rosé, it tends to be trifling and forgettable rosé, as do Marsannay’s Chardonnay-based white wines.
The reds are fine values, though—austere in off years and reliable in good ones, somewhat resembling the pricier and richer Pinot Noirs of Fixin and Gevrey-Chambertin.
The appellation covers twelve square miles with 540 acres planted to vines that produce around a hundred thousand cases per year. The soils of Marsannay are typical of the Côte de Nuits, with a base of limestone overlaid with clay marl, but the region’s weather is cool, and it contains no climat considered worth of Premier Cru status.
Except, potentially, one:
The terroirs of the ‘Les Longeroies’ vineyard, which grow on the calcareous slopes next to Clos du Roy—‘the home of kings’—a vineyard that shouldn’t be confused with the Saint-Émilion Château. ‘Les Longeroies’ means ‘alongside the king’, and produces wine of such distinction that it may justifiably be seen to be Premier Cru level.
Régis Bouvier Marsannay ‘Les Longeroies’, 2014, around $32: Silken, sensuous and subtle, this moderately rich wine presents the scent of apple core and sweet cherry in the nose while the palate is dominated by gentle, earth fruit and hints of smoke. The finish is long, sweet and lightly tannic; a wine ready to rock this evening.
Finding a Rhyme for ‘Orange’
Maranges is an umbilical cord between the Côte-d’Or and the Saône-et-Loire. Nestling at the lowest recess of the Côte d’Or, the region encompasses the three villages of Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Dezize-lès-Maranges and Sampigny-lès-Maranges, and—in the spirt of hyphenation—the vineyards are joined-at-the-hip with neighboring Santenay.
Having been named an AOC in 1988, Maranges covers a little more than four hundred acres and produces a million bottles a year, primarily of Pinot Noir. The vineyards are, in general, more highly regarded by the INAO, and seven individual lieux-dits are classified as Premier Cru vineyards.
La Fussière is among them.
This steep, hillside vineyard runs in the opposite direction of most slopes in the Côte de Beaune, although the composition is the same—mostly brown limestone soils and limey marls. Reds from the area have traditionally been remarkably colorfast, even with aging, among the darkest and most durable reds from the Côte d’Or.
But in cooler years, the wines develop a certain, beautiful gentility without loss of structure. 2014 provided a solid foundation for the vintage with a warm, dry spring and early bud break. Hailstorms in July reduced crop yields, but the fruit that remained ripened well, so these wines preserve the core quality of a Premier Cru vineyard.
Domaine Jean-Claude Regnaudot Maranges ‘La Fussière, 2014, around $32: Over-performing for the price, the wine—from Regnaudot’s 2.5 acre plot in the Premier Cru vineyard—offers a nice red/purple hue, a pungent nose with cherry and truffle and a hint of spice behind a tart, fruit and earthiness through the mid-palate and beautifully integrated tannins.