Jeannot Maranges Vieilles Vignes 2016
Hunting for Value in red Burgundy is a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack – so impossibly hard to find that it becomes a joke.
Yet every once in a while, the good heavens above (and the three-tier U.S. liquor system below) conspire to bring us a hidden gem. And this is one such gem: a rare find you’ll want to snap up.
The wine hails from Maranges. Many old – school oenophiles look at Maranges as “from the south” – the rough-and-tumble hillside ranges below the Cote d’Or that are known for creating wines of “rusticity” or “animale” or “sous bois” that somehow are around the same area as Beaujolais?
But if you actually look at a map instead of trusting stereotypes of the past, you can see that Maranges’ best vineyards interlock with Santenay’s Premier Cru vineyards. True, there is a divide between them, but that divide is not as extreme as one might presume given that Santenay’s wines are at least four times more expensive (and hopefully four times as tasty!). And, Santenay’s vineyards were recognized as Burgundy proper via the AOC system in 1937. Maranges, on the other hand, languished in the background until 1988.
Now true, I’ve tasted some “interesting” Maranges in my time, and I made the choice to pass them by. Yet Burgundy, including Maranges, is not stagnant, and I think there are now some remarkable things going on in this Outer-Borough region. Our case in point, Quentin Jeannot.
The nose opens with beautiful Pinot Noir spice notes – cranberry scone, touch of cinnamon, and red cherry fruit. Yes, there is a touch of sous bois, forest floor, in there as well – but just a touch, adding complexity and NOT making the wine “anima.l” The palate is clear, fresh and concise with a purity of fruit that revolves between the flavors of fresh cherries and slightly under-ripe strawberries. The finish is elegant and pure with a vivid sense of minerality. I chilled it down and served with thick cut grilled ham topped with tarragon butter and fresh peas – a true delight. But fear not, there is enough fruit in this bottle to dive right in as a cocktail.
For many, many years, most farmers in Burgundy sold off their fruit to large winemaking companies. This started to change in the Cote d’Or in the 1960s but didn’t really pick up steam until the 1980s. And that was in the Cote d’Or. That major revolution didn’t reach sleepy Maranges until the 1990s and indeed, this is the other reason our wine is such a diamond in the rough – Quentin Jeannot’s dad didn’t start bottling his own wine until 1999. Young Quentin, as you can tell from the picture above, took over many years later as a very young man. Young, but his wines are outstanding.
Here is the rock star that Maranges has been waiting for to re-establish it on the Burgundy map proper. As with most of Burgundies, our allocation is small, don’t miss it.