Wine Berserkers Weekly Burgundy Appellation Tasting Series Week 1: Marsannay/Fixin

Hello Everyone and welcome to Week One of our Wine Berserkers Weekly Burgundy Appellation Tasting Series. This week, we have joined Marsannay (which includes wines from the communes of Marsannay-La-Côte; Couchey and Chenôve) with Fixin (which also includes vines belonging to the commune of Brochon). These two apellations aren’t necessarily similar. However, they are both today unfairly overlooked by many consumers and happen to be neighbors.

One of the changes that will become apparent in this cycle of the series is a look at how the different appellations changed over the years through the lens of different writers. With each installment, notes from various books will be cited.

Here is a Hi-Res (1080p) VIDEO of the areas covered this week:

First, some general notes on Marsannay


Marsannay by maisonilan
There are currently no Premier or Grand Cru climats in Marsannay< However, this may very well be changing soon enough.

Per André Jullien (1822)
Ranked Chenove in having in the third clase with Clos du Roi and le Chapitre mentioned. “They give a dark color, a good taste, very solid, and they acquire with age a lot of quality and an agreeable bouquet: ‘one’ does resemble those of the second cuvées of Nuits. The other parts of this vineyard produce wines from the ordinary to the first and second quality.”

Per Jean “Jules” Lavalle (1855)

(At Chenôve) “During the whole time that “Clos-du-Roi” belonged to the Crown, the wines that one harvested had a very high reputation.”
'Again a territory having climats of pinot that are decreasing day by day, nearly disappearing completely."
In his time, there had been many plantings of pinot having been long since changed over to ‘gamet’ , only to see a small amount of climats being recently replanted to pinot, though none of them having enough surface area to produce a cuvée with pinot noir as the sole cepage (grape type).
More than 310 hectares in Marsannay under vine.
(At Couchey) Planted entirely to gamet, 220 hectares under vine, producing good, but ordinary wines
"Couchey has had for a long time vines situated in all of the part situated above the road that goes from Couchey to Fixey.

1855 Classification by Jean “Jules” Lavalle

Première Cuvée

Les Arvelets 3ha 33a 15ca
“They are planted in pinot noir mixed with a fifth of pinot blanc, they give a firm wine, colored, well spirited, and keeps well; they are fine, and take a bouquet in maturing, it resembles the Clos Saint Jacques at Gevrey. The part in pinot can yield 15 hectolitres per hectare, this is to say around 40 hectolitres total.This climat was cultivated in vines since a great number of centuries and one can say without fear of error making the first plantation at the 8th or 9th century. The part planted to gamet consists of 63 ares 60 ca owned by many vignerons, and can produce ion average by the hectare 24 hectoliters for all of the 15.”

La Mazière 2ha 21a 45ca

Deuxième Cuvée

Le Rosier 1ha 62a 5ca
Champennebaut 88a 80ca
Les Clos 1ha 44a 20ca
Le Clos 87a 50ca
Les Foussottes 2ha 68a 40ca
(next lieu dit name clipped off original print-way)
Les Mogottes 1ha 47a 20ca
Champ-Perdrix 1ha 50a 55ca (24 hl/ha)

Per Danguy and Aubertin (1892)

Previously known as Marsannay-en-Montagne
“This country (Marsannay) has produced good wine since the year 658”
Mostly, ordinary wine is made here, the grape type being Gamay and Barbental. At times there are producers that possess vines that are planted to pinot noir that produce fine wines.
In describing the wines, "The tasting of these wines from this commune have a great frankness, a good vinosity, a beautiful color, of solidity and of body. These are the wines to keep, par excellence, and perfectly withstand voyages.

Fixin (Fixey’s information converges with Fixin’s in these texts)

André Jullien (1822, Second Edition of “Topographie de Tous Les Vignobles Connus”)
Listed Perrière, à Fixin, area of Gevrey in the top rank with La Romanée-Conti, Le Chambertin, Le Richebourg, Le Clos-Vougeot and others. “These vines are generally not known outside of Burgundy, and the vines that she produces are always sold less expensively than the crus which have a reputation, those that they are comparable to in quality.” He also noted that the best wines that could withstand a voyage were Le Corton, Le Chambertin, Le Saint-Georges (at Nuits) and La Perrière.

1855 Classification by Jean “Jules” Lavalle

Tête de Cuvée

LA PERRIÈRE - “The property known by the name Clos de la Perrière is composed of 5 hectares combined, having 3 hectares 70 ares in vines, and the surplus in courtyard, gardens, buildings and dependences (supporting buildings). This property at another time was owned by the Abby of Citeaux. >>> The wines of the Clos de la Pièrre have been classed since a long time amongst the Tête de cuvée of Burgundy. This is how they are characterized, it is these that are very colored, very spirited, and those having the virtue of being able to last the longest of any of the wines of our Côte d’Or. With maturation, they resemble the great wines of the hillside of Gevrey-Chambertin, the bouquet that makes the approval of the wines of Burgundy and places them at the head of the wines of the entire world. Mnsr le marquis de Montmort regularly sells his wines from the Clos de la Perrière at the same price as the Chambertin.This climat which is mixed with a fifth of pinot blanc, produces on average 14 hectoliters to the hectare, together 39 hectolitres.”

Première Cuvée

La Chapitre 4ha 77a 10ca

Les Arvelets 3ha 60a 95ca

Le Tremble 85a 60ca

Echéseaux et Clos Napoléon 1ha 83a 70ca

Clos Napoléon 1er Cru at Fixin by maisonilan
Clos Napoléon pictured above

[NOTE: I will continue this during the next couple of days]

Per Danguy and Aubertin (1892)

The distinctive characteristics of these wines are their spirituosity, their color, a bouquet that develops with age, and a great aptitude to store well over a long time, important things for the great wines.

Current Fixin 1er Cru Climats

Clos du Chapitre
Clos Napoléon
Clos de la Perrière (which also straddles Brochon)

Of note, Fixin climats classed as Village can also be bottled as “Côte de Nuits Villages”

Let’s have some fun with Marsannay (Couchey and Chenôve) and Fixin this week, everyone.


Ray - [cheers.gif] It’s nice to be back in Burgundy. flirtysmile

No Marsannay or Fixin in the cellar, but if I have some time I’ll see if I can source some locally and post impressions. I’ll have to check out the appellations when I’m there in May. Bill Nanson presents some interesting producers in his book, just two of which I knew of before reading it (Bruno Clair and Olivier Guyot).

Ray thanks for the post and getting this series going. This is my first and I’m excited to participate.

My experience with Marsannay is almost zero so I have no idea how this wine fits in the context of the AOC, but I had bought it a few weeks ago on a whim and here it is:

2008 Louis Latour Marsannay:
Lightish cherry red with a hint of orange, very clear but not quite brilliant. Nose of strawberries with their stems and leaves, and damp earth. More body than expected with a sense of volume and slight alcoholic heat, slightly tart strawberry/cherry fruit, and a little tannic friction across the top of the tongue. It has a slightly liqueur-ish quality to the fruit and along with the clarity comes off more like a drink made from the essence of something rather than the something itself. I don’t mean this in a bad way, in fact it’s a nice characteristic I find in some wines made from Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo, and the occasional Grenache. Not a great wine but pretty interesting and enjoyable for the price (I don’t recall exactly but in the range of $12 from Trader Joe’s). I’m glad I tried it.

Craig, funny you should post on the Louis Latour. I had a note on the 2007 in last year’s Marsannay thread. Here it is again: “Medium-light ruby color. Nose is somewhat meaty and mineral earthiness, with some bright red fruit behind it, and then becoming perhaps a bit disjointed. Palate pretty much follows the profile of the nose, fairly well balanced. A much nicer wine than I had anticipated, quite serviceable, and a good QPR for less than $14. Complex? No. Tasty? Yes. And for the price, I’m very happy.” (tasted 2/20/2011)

I’ll also throw in my horribly abbreviated note on the 2009 Domaine Marc Roy tasted at the La Paulee SF Grand Tasting in February: “Pleasant wine, apples, palate a bit tart.” Sorry about the less than useful note, but I was nearing the end of a long afternoon of tasting through many wines. I think it was the first white Marsannay I’ve ever tried. Then again I haven’t had a whole lot of red Marsannay either.

These are semi-recent notes from some wines brought in by Peter Weygandt. Both nice values in Burgundy that should improve with a few years in the bottle.

  • 2010 Domaine Collotte Marsannay Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Marsannay (3/27/2012)
    The nose comes across as bright, if somewhat uninspired, showing tones of ripe red fruit, roasted tomato, gravel dust, and horseradish. The palate opens with focused and brambly mixed berries, yielding to a more tart mid-palate of red fruit, dried green herbs, and black pepper. The medium length finish carries intricate nuance, melding tones of dried cranberry, slate, and black tea with bolstering acidity and framing tannins. This is well structured with a linear profile and despite its light to medium body, its flavors carry significant intensity. Leave this in the cellar for now. R&M 88 (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Collotte Marsannay Le Clos de Jeu - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Marsannay (11/2/2011)
    The nose is somewhat restrained, yielding tones of ripe dark cherries, crushed rock, and toasted oak. The wine opens with lean mixed berries on the palate, transitioning with arising vanilla to a mid-palate extension of the front end flavors. The fruit becomes more tart as the wine evolves on the palate, finishing with components of tart cranberry/cherry, pine, and spice. This has some nice linearity to the fruit, but has a bit of a mid-palate deficit. This comes across as rather young, currently showcasing structure and the expense of fruit and weight. This seems to have the elements to be excellent, however, when everything comes together. R&M 87 (87 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

I will say as a disclaimer that in the grand scheme of things I am a Burgundy novice, though I am looking forward to participating and expanding my experience with Burgundy’s regions through this series and hope to find/open something for every week. For this week I found two wines at my local shop, both from the 1999 vintage from the same producer. I opened the Marsannay tonight and will pop their Fixin tomorrow. Not necessarily the best start, but my experience with aged wines is also limited. I’m curious if those in the know could explain the ‘Les Echezeaux’ when the Echezeaux Grand Cru appears further south on the map than either Marsannay or Fixin?

  • 1999 Huguenot Père & Fils Marsannay Les Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Marsannay (4/1/2012)
    I was a bit worried initially upon opening this as the cork appeared soaked through, then broke in half upon extracting with a waiter’s corkscrew, with the remaining half getting pushed in as I tried to jiggle the ah-so around it. Not to worry, as the nose showed nice tea, dried leaves, and a hint of red cherry. The nose is the best part; the palate is past its heyday with a bit of tea, earth and red fruit; flat but not oxidized. A bit of acidity left, no tannins to speak of, and no finish. Unfortunately did not open up beyond the PnP; fell apart more the longer it was open. (80 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

David, it’s not unusual in Burgundy to find identical or similar vineyard names in different appellations. Your bottle was not from the the Grand Crus Echezeaux or Grands Echezeaux. To add to the confusion, numerous vineyard names have various spellings (i.e., Orveau, Orveaux), and then you throw in the modifiers such as “en haut,” “en bas,” etc. But that’s not all! Some vineyards have sections which are classified 1er cru and others which are classified “villages.” And, for example, La Combe d’Orveaux has such sections, plus a small section which is Grand Cru (but then must be labeled Musigny). That’s on the Chambolle side. On the Flagey side, most of En Orveaux is part of Echezeaux. Well, you get the picture. The variations on these themes seem endless.

2009 Domaine Marc Roy Marsannay Les Champs Perdrix (white) - We drank this with Board member M Passo with dinner last night. Clean apple and pear aromas in the nose and continuing on the palate along with creamy lemon. A little on the flabby side on its own, but went well with Fettucini with Crab. Decent mouth-feel, nice finish. This was at the level of a good to very good Bourgogne-level bottling.

thanks so much for the video and quotes. Here is a recent Marsannay I enjoyed a lot.

  • 2009 Régis Bouvier Marsannay Les Longeroies Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Marsannay (3/25/2012)
    Nose of very fresh cherry and earth and a bit of spice. Cherries and red berries on the palate, fresh and fruity with good acid. Tannins are very active on the finish, where there is also spice component added to the finish. Very good.

Posted from CellarTracker

That is funny. I am going to try it again. My experience has been that I can quite easily find interesting $20 Burgundies but I haven’t had much luck below that recently. For example I picked up a bottle each of Jadot and Faiveley Bourgogne (both around $13) at a recent Safeway sale, and while both were perfectly fine there was nothing particularly interesting about them - I would sooner have the Jadot Beaujolais or a CdR. While the Latour Marsannay might have more warts than those wines, it’s a lot more interesting to me.

Thanks for the primer.

Being among the rank amateurs, I wanted to make sure I pronounced Fixin correctly.

So, here you go:

Andrew, word pronunciation in France varies a lot. Local pronunciation is often very different from how those outside the region pronounce words – this is particularly true of place names. I generally hear Fixin pronounced with an “s” sound rather than an “x” sound, and I believe that’s the local pronunciation. Others may be able to chime in here.

Xavier- thanks for the info. Kind of what I expected, but interesting.

As far as the Fixin I mentioned:

  • 1999 Huguenot Père & Fils Fixin Fixin - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Fixin (4/2/2012)
    Nothing spectacular; significantly younger tasting than the Marsannay though still undeniably aged. Nose of raspberry juice and wet leaves. Pleasant flavors of cherry, red raspberry, and a hint of earth. Light-bodied with next to no tannins, medium acidity. (83 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Zut! Now I’ll be wrong somewhere no matter how I pronounce it.

My one and only Fixin. The note is a little dated, but this was a very nice bottle I thought I’d share.

2007 Méo-Camuzet Frère et Sœurs Fixin 1er Cru Clos du Chapitre (5/28/2011)
Nose of blood and barnyard. Medium bodied; good texture and mid-palate concentration for the vintage. PnP - needed about 15 minutes in the glass and it really started singing. Blind I would have guessed northern rhone - only other place I have encountered this combination of flavors before - dried meats, smoke, mushrooms, dark chocolate with some prunes. An intense mineral streak on the finish. The only thing about Fixin that doesn’t fit the bill is the supposed rusticity of the wines - this is very smooth, elegant and easy to drink. (91 points)

I thought I had a Domaine Collotte Marsannay rose’ wine but I can’t locate it. Perhaps I have already opened it.
2009 MEO-CAMUZET FRERE ET SOEURS MARSANNAY. 13.5% abv. Dark cherry/cerise color; nearly opaque. Shows some viscosity. Cherries on the nose with a faint hint of violets. A little tart but with a pleasant finishing note. Light to medium body. Suggestion of lanolin which I more often detect in white Burgundies–in fact, this is the first time I’ve noted it in a red wine. This was enjoyable with a baked chicken main dish and leftover ratatouille. (A number of years ago I met Monsieur Jean Nicolas Meo at a wine dinner in DC and I always enjoy the personal note that comes from meeting the winemaker or proprietor.)

What a great introduction by Ray! Thanks to all for the TNs so far. I don’t have any of these appellations on hand, so will remain on the sidelines this week.

First, thanks to Ray for putting this series together; I really like the approach and I look forward to upcoming segments. [thumbs-up.gif]

I will skip my TNs and sum up my limited experiences quickly. I had the Domaine Collotte Marsannay VV 2009; it was pleasant but forgettable; more of a patio wine (an '08 Bize village SlB blew it away). I had the Bruno Clair '04 Marsannay; dull and unimpressive but I’ll chalk that up to the vintage. I had a 2005 Marsannay once, well before CT so I can’t add anything more except that it was also pleasant (though the company who helped me drink it helped immensely.) I also had the Regis Bouvier '09 Fixin; hard to judge the wine because it was over-oaked (I sometimes think Kermit Lynch is slipping.) Since the Fixin can be bottled as CdNV, I’ll add that I’ve had pretty good experiences with them (QPR-wise Drouhin can knock it out of the park). My conclusion is that these appellations are enjoyable places to buy Pinot Noir if you find a good deal. My question is whether they are capable of producing truly great wines? I suppose I should try something like the Meo-Camuzet to answer that.