Frederic Magnien hosted an event at Hedonism, the London-based shop. We were at least 20 in attendance, and the room was intrigued and patient as the host explained his philosophy. Frederic says he simply doesn’t like to drink wood! Since 2015 the estate is biodynamic. He is using terracotta pots and concrete vats. Frederic likes fruit. He talks of the purity of the grape and a vessel to emulate the terroir, not mask it. He spent time in the USA. He is a man of curious and pleasant contradictions. He is nostalgic. He likes ‘feet pressing grapes’ and 50%/50% cluster and no stems. He likens Pinot Noir to Riesling, in the context of fragility and fickleness, he sings (utters) ‘would you put Riesling in wood’. He jested and poked the smoking fraternity, to underscore his distaste for layers, why mask your taste buds with nicotine. He looks West, to Bordeaux, for references and what seems like endorsement, citing Pontet Canet and Tesseron’s winemaking. He served ‘new style’ next to ‘old style’. See list below. Is this simply old school, smart marketing! Magnien trying to carve out a niche, like Nicolas Joly one of the early French vigneron to embrace the biodynamic movement. My initial sips and thoughts took me back 7-8 years to tastings I had had of Prieure Roch in London and Premeaux. My sceptism (back) arched like a nagging nag. Back then I recall little to no use of sulpher. I enjoyed the flavour profiles and purity, I wondered how these wines would age, develop and ripen with complexity. Regrettably, the upward price movement has meant limited sampling of the latter. On the other hand, and right away, Magnien’s new style wines did not convince or convert me, admittedly I have limited reference points, and still attached to my old school pinot palate expectations. I took a dislike to the ‘confected, spices, nutmeg’ aromas but admittedly, the mineral tone and acidity were apparent and enjoyable. All that said, how does one begin to measure or evaluate these new style wines. What is the framework, reference points. One suspects it is return to them at 5 year intervals, the purse and interest permitting. (Disclaimer: these are my notes, as I recall, as conveyed/interpreted on the night from Frederic’s talk - not fact checked!) The wines: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, Les Sentiers 2015 (GBP 106) Strawberries, high tone, nutmeg, spices with white pepper. Fresh and silky palate. Confected and more Gamay in style, than Pinot. Terracotta pots. Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru, Les Chaffots 2015 (GBP 88.10) Red fruits, spices (nutmeg), more evident tannins and a firm backbone. Fresh with a mineral and sharp length. Terracotta pots. Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2015 (GBP 191) Fresh fruits, heavy palate and tight, with liquorice overtones. Half aged in terracotta and half in barrels. Marsannay, Mogottes, Monopole 2014 (GBP 32.40) Excellent value for money, parcel is well located, South East facing. Ripe raspberry notes and white pepper. Barrel-aged. Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru, Les Chaffots 2014 (GBP 64.10) Contrast to the terracotta aged wine (above No.2), nutmeg spices not evident, red fruits, finer tannins, tighter, lean more austere wine, mineral mid-length, and a firm backbone. Barrel-aged. Morey Saint Denis, Les Millandes 2013 (GBP 66.10) Similar in style to 1993, tannic, cool red fruits, white pepper, fresh and sharp. Barrel-aged. Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2012 (GBP 166.70) Open nose of raspberries, pinot-pepper, sous-bois. Elegant, silky and statuesque. Barrel-aged. Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2008 (GBP 198) Lovely, forest floor and barnyard aroma, underscoring the consistency this vintage is drinking nicely.