Vigneron gatherings often involve old bottles and old friends. We met Claude Muzard at such a gathering and were thrilled to discover the dynamic Muzard domaine in Santenay! Domaine Lucien Muzard & Fils is run by the dedicated duo of brothers Claude and Hervé Muzard, the ninth generation to manage this family estate that traces its history back to 1645. The village of Santenay is not only where they hang their hats, but also home to their largest concentration of vineyards, which average 55 years of age, including 1er Crus Maladière and Gravières as well as villages-level Champs Claude - situated right next to Chassagne’s Morgeot - from which they produce both Santenay Rouge and Santenay Blanc (a beautiful “poor man’s Chassagne” in anyone’s book!). Over the years, the brothers have amassed an enviable assortment of prime terroirs in the neighboring villages of Maranges — one of the top values in their rouge lineup — as well as in Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault, including the stony, cool terroir of Les Meix Chavaux.
In the vineyards they are devout in their commitment to working naturally and they incorporate both organic and biodynamic principles in their farming. Claude and Hervé aim to be as delicate as possible when handling the grapes. All fruit is hand-harvested in small 10 kg cases, and then sorted and mostly de-stemmed. Recently however the brothers have begun incorporating some whole cluster fermentation for the reds to add some complexity and freshness. The wines ferment with their native yeasts in temperature controlled wooden fermenting tanks, and cuvaison typically lasts about two weeks before pressing, settling and then placing them into mostly used barrels. They have recently added foudres, which were uniquely present in the village during their grandparents’s generation. This is both a nod to tradition as well as a genuine interest in how the wines will evolve in larger oak vessels.
While the village has a reputation for being more “rustic”, Muzard’s Santenays tend toward the elegant end of the spectrum, highlighted by crunchy, earthy red fruit and well integrated tannins. On the white wine side, the frères Muzard are of course big fans of their friend Didier Picq’s laser-focused, tank-aged Chablis. So, they now raise the whites in a mix of tank and barrel, combining the traditions of both regions. As a result, the whites are aromatic and energetic, and like their red counterparts, among the finest values to be found in the region.