Try Food&Wine!
Food & Wine celebrates all aspects of the epicurean lifestyle, the tables and the talents that define our time's most authentic, exuberant way of life. Subscribe Today and receive a FREE barbecue apron ... and your subscription will help support and The 30 Second Wine Advisor.

Today's sponsor
California Wine Club
The first month is free with The California Wine Club! It's a New Year, which means new resolutions to break and new wines to try! So if you've not yet joined The California Wine Club and not yet tried their selection of hard-to-find, award-winning wines there's no better time than now. Join now and your first month is free.

In This Issue
 Introducing Burgundy: Côtes-de-Nuits
 Frédéric Magnien 2001 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes-de-Nuits ($10)

click here

For all past editions,
click here

For information, E-mail

Introducing Burgundy: Côtes-de-Nuits

Continuing for a bit with our every-Friday exploration of Burgundy, let's revisit "the rule of real estate" that I discussed last week.

Under this rule, you'll recall, the more narrowly defined the location, the more sought-after the wine. Wines from specific vineyards (especially vineyards with a good track record) trump wines defined only by the name of the nearby village. Village wines in turn are generally considered more desirable than wines whose labels reveal only a broader region. And even at that level, a more specific region - like today's Côtes-de-Nuits - still outclasses generic Bourgogne (Burgundy).

Of course wine is rarely as simple as it seems, and in the case of a subject as complicated - and as expensive - as Burgundy can be, canny consumers will quickly gravitate toward the exceptions that prove the rule.

One easy way to do this is to look for the producers who have a reputation for outshining their peers. Last Friday's featured Burgundy, for instance, rose above the reputation of the lightly regarded village Chorey-les-Beaune on the basis of its producer, the respected Jean-Luc Dubois.

Today's wine comes from an even broader (and thus hypothetically less desirable) stretch of real estate. The Hautes Côtes-de-Nuits ("Upper Côtes-de-Nuits") is huge by Burgundy standards, some 50 square miles of hilltop land above and to the west of the Côtes-de-Nuits region, the hillside vineyards that reach northward from Beaune almost all the way to Dijon. Representing sort of a "suburban sprawl" from the classic Burgundy regions, it's a newer region composed of younger vineyards that have hardly had time to build a reputation.

So, when the land is unfamiliar, wise wine-shoppers look for a familiar hand. I found one this week in Frédéric Magnien, a second-generation producer, who owns no vineyards but is developing an excellent reputation for putting together excellent wines from purchased fruit. His 2001 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes-de-Nuits is a fine example of what to expect from young, out-of-the-way vines in capable hands: While it's a relatively simple wine, it is balanced, fruity and mouth-wateringly acidic and a fine table wine, as you would expect from Burgundy where gastronomy is just about as much a part of daily life as the grape.

We still have a number of seats available on my May 24-30 tour of Burgundy and Champagne, which is shaping up to be an exceptional introduction to the real world of Burgundy (and a bonus side trip to Champagne), with VIP-style visits at several top producers plus memorable meals and lodging. I look forward to meeting some of you and sharing time on the wine road. Details at French Wine Explorers,

As I mentioned last week, if you're serious about Burgundy, you can't improve on the in-depth information that my friend and associate Allen "Burghound" Meadows provides in his subscription-only quarterly,
Burghound also offers The Insider's Guide to Visiting the Céte d'Or, an excellent, concise, 39-page travel guide to the food and wine of Burgundy. It's available for $19.95 (Adobe Acrobat document delivered by E-mail). See

As always, you're invited to participate in online wine conversations on our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. To join in an interactive round-table online discussion on today's article, click to

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.

Frederic Magnien Frédéric Magnien 2001 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes-de-Nuits ($10)

Clear garnet but not overly dark, this wine shows the light but gem-like color that's often characteristic of Pinot Noir in general and Burgundy in particular. It breathes lightly spicy red fruit on the nose and palate, opening up with time in the glass to a wild-cherry flavor that's oddly reminiscent of Life Savers candies but bone-dry, nicely shaped by tart, mouth-watering acidity. On the simple side, perhaps, but well-balanced, a natural companion with food. U. S. importer: North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 3, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: An excellent match with a thick, simply prepared pork chop from a local processor.

VALUE: A fine value at this 50-percent-off sale price; a bit iffy at the full-retail $19.95.

WHEN TO DRINK: Ready to drink, although it could make an interesting experiment to cellar it for a year or two in the hope that evolution will add complexity.

WEB LINK: The importer has an article about Frederic Magnien and his wines in its May 2003 newsletter:
and a profile of the wine maker at

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Locate vendors for Frederic Magnien's wines on


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Friday, Jan. 9, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives