Re-Bonjour d’un chemin inattendu crée par l’amitié et la passion partagée,
Many of you have already been shocked to attention, having tasted Cyril Audoin’s 2014 red wines and 2016 rosé that we debuted with a year ago. Proof-being-in-the-pudding, there is zero doubt that this young fellow is making some of the greatest overachieving wines in all of Burgundy, able to go toe to toe with far more prestigious and pricey appellations south of Marsannay. In particular, the ’14 Favières’ knee buckling beauty may present one of the finest value red Burgundies I have ever been able to offer, outperforming most 1er cru wines from the Côte de Nuits, in my (not so) humble opinion. To my taste, the entire ’14 range exemplifies the kind of moderation, purity, and succulence that merit a “Classic” designation, with a capital C. However, many people, myself included, have anxiously been awaiting his 2015 collection, one that Cyril himself recognizes as one of the, if not THE, finest collections of his career. More structured and denser than the ’14s, these ’15s should present a hop-up-and-down frenzied buying opportunity for the everyday drinker, as well as the cellar dweller, as the wines are so chock full of substance and gourmandise à la fois (immediate pleasure at the same time), that any value minded consumer would be beyond remiss to pass these by. I rest my case.
For some personal life insight, Cyril and his wife Brittany continue to be thrilled with their young parenthood, their little cutie girl Charlie offering daily lessons in joyous (re)discovery of the simple good things of life. He is an avid drummer, still enjoying being a rock-and-roller, a big fan of both hardcore bands like Metallica/Megadeth, as well as classic rock and roll. He and Nico Groffier (an avid electric guitar player) are good friends, and they jam together regularly. We joke about the “Trio of Doom”, with the three of us making a classic “power trio” (I play the bass). We will see when that happens!……Overall, Cyril seems to be in a very very good place, dialed in on a personal level and wine wise, with his new winery clearly allowing him to make continued strides in precision, taking what was already head-shakingly good wines to yet another level of excellence. He deserves every bit of success and recognition, in spite of the irrational bias against his hometown of Marsannay. I still can’t believe that some tradesmen tell him that his wines are “too expensive for Marsannay”, as what is in the glass is undeniably insanely good for the money. Alas, label lickers can go do so……
What follows is a yee-haw crazy full offering of just about everything under the sun, from 2017 and 2016 whites, 2014 and 2015 reds, and a whole lotta mags inbetween! Curiously enough, I haven’t tasted the ’15s! When I visited with him in Nov 2016, we tried the ’14s out of bottle. When I visited him in Nov 2017, we tried the stunningly good ’16s from tank. That being said, I heartily trust Cyril’s own acknowledgement that the ’15s are perhaps the finest wines of his career, as well as Allan Meadows’ praises below. All of that aside, I cannot recommend his ’14s enough, as to my taste they exemplify the kind of harmony and balance that are right up my alley, quite classical in their proportions. The long and short of it is that you can’t go wrong…..anything with his name on it transcends any expectation that one could possible have for red Burgundy at such prices. His frustration, that he can only ask so much for his wines because he is from Marsannay, is a value-minded consumer’s boon. And so……..
ORIGINAL 2014 OFFERING AND INTRO TO THE ESTATE :
Today’s momentous introduction is the fruit of nearly a decade’s worth of slowly earned trust, respect, shared passion, and generational shared vision and values. It is a profound honor and joy to finally be able to present one of the Côte de Nuits most underheralded and unrepresented shining stars: Cyril Audoin of Domaine Charles Audoin of Marsannay. The layers here are thick, so please bear with me as I try to put things in context…..
I first became aware of Cyril’s work when, in my former retail life, I was able to build a bridge with Martine’s Wines to bring a swath of her portfolio to my native Delaware. It was the 2005 Marsannay Clos de Jeu that I can still vividly remember for its bursting-at the-seams substance allied to pleasure, at a tariff that was unheard of for a genuine red Burgundy of any ilk, nonetheless the Côte de Nuits and its seemingly unavoidable prestige surcharge. Based on such a first impression, I began to regularly visit with Cyril, a young man whose sincerity, humility, and clear talent were both inspiring and beyond evident. His hometown of Marsannay at the northern limit of the Côtes de Nuits is a poster child for the illogical vagaries of the Burgundian appellation system, a town that had always enjoyed deep historical esteem, with a wonderful array of characterful vineyard sites, yet none of which are classified as 1er or Grand cru. In spite of this commercial/economic bias, Cyril has always pushed to express au maxi the rich diversity of terroir offered here, farming and vinifying the many contrasting lieu dit personalities separately, a parcellary vision at the heart of what makes Burgundy such a special place. In what is a long and arduous process, Marsannay now stands on the historical cusp of having many of its noblest climats designated as 1er cru, to a large degree due to the convincing work of Cyril, Sylvain Pataille, and Domaine Bruno Clair.
His work did not go unnoticed in critical spheres, as Allan Meadows routinely trumpeted Cyril’s work as perhaps the most convincing argument for Marsannay’s diversity and nobility.
A bit over a month ago, nearly a decade after I first was introduced, after many tastings/visits together and my having harvested with him in 2011, I reached out to Cyril to see first and foremost how his new baby girl is doing, little “Charlie” (a nod to his father, Charles, as well as a cute name that he and his American wife Brittany adored), as well as if the time had yet come to work together. Ever respectful and grateful for the exposure that Martine and her company had brought to Cyril, he asked them if he had their blessing to, for the first time, work with another importer in the US. I was thrilled when Cyril told me that the word came back affirmative, a sign of respect to all parties involved, that I would finally be able to bring the breadth of his work to a US audience, in a stable fly-the-flag presence that had been lacking for many years. The timing simply could not be better, with Cyril at a certain apogée of his maturity as a vigneron (he is 38, the same age as I am), freshly installed in his new winery facility, with the perhaps unexpectedly terrific 2014 vintage just being released now. You can count yourself and all of us lucky to be able to dip into this cookie jar…..it doesn’t get better than this for the money…!
What follows is a comprehensive offering of the 2014 wines and the JUST released 2015s (he is always a late releaser….), a vintage of wonderful complete tension en blanc, and of succulent and serious gourmandise en rouge. I had read Allan Meadows’ impressions of the ’14 reds and whites, almost ALL of which got “highly recommended” tabs in his notes, but I still wasn’t prepared for just how damn tasty his 2014s are. In classically proportioned fruit/floral/spice/mineral interplay, purity and succulence of fruit, and inviting aromatics, there is not a single wine that I tasted that I wouldn’t heartily recommended to my dearest friend. They are ideally suited to medium term cellaring, that is to say for the most serious of the lot an evolutionary potential in the 5-10 year range. However, they are all built so harmoniously that they will give pleasure easily and freely in youth, which in my book is anything but a flaw…… and sooooo, away we gooooo……
2017 Marsannay rosé – Now three years settled in at his state-of-the-art cuverie (winery), Cyril is getting even more precision in his vinifications, as this oh-so-primary tank sample clearly showed. This stuff was deeelicious in its purity of little red fruits and rising perfume, both aromatically and in the mouth, with a sense of precise chiseled cut and mineral length on the backend. Marsannay is the single most famous village in Burgundy for its rosé wine, and this is one that I have been waiting some time for…..Last year’s 2016 rosé was an absolute knockout that had many many folks coming back for more. From what I tasted, this ’17 should be right in line. Get a 6pk or a case, and thank me later.
LES BLANCS: In 2016, frost decimated a huge percentage of his crop. Thus there are only two white wines made….
2017 Bourgogne Aligoté
2016 Marsannay blanc Au Champs Solomon
2016 Marsannay blanc Cuvée Charlie – An exceptional, one-time cuvée made to celebrate the birth of Cyril’s daughter Charlie (a nod to his father, Charles), this contains the tiny yields from the Charme aux Prêtres and Clos du Roy, as well as a few tiny bits from les Récilles, le Poiset, et les Crais, all blended together to make a cuvée. CHEERS TO LITTLE CHARLIE, TRUE GEM OF THE ’16 “HARVEST”.
2015 Marsannay blanc Clos du Roy
“(2014 was the first vintage for this wine). A discreet application of wood sets off the essence of pear and apple scents that are also trimmed in citrus hints. There is more evident minerality to the delicious, sleek and nicely focused finish where a touch of apricot arises. (87-89)/2019+” Allan Meadows
2015 Marsannay blanc la Charme aux Prêtres blanc
“(this can also be declared as Les Rosey). This is also moderately wooded and reduced. There is a bit more volume to the solidly concentrated middle weight flavors that possess slightly better vibrancy on the lingering, sappy and ever-so-mildly austere finale. This is a quality effort for the vintage. (87-90)/2019+” Allan Meadows
2015 Marsannay blanc Au Champs Solomon
“Notes of reduction and wood currently dominate the nose. Otherwise there is reasonably good detail to the succulent and citrus-inflected medium weight flavors that deliver acceptable depth and length. This is perfectly good but I wouldn’t describe it as classic. (87-89)/2018+” Allan Meadows
LES ROUGES: Let me be perfectly clear: every single one of these is a damn tasty bottle of red Burgundy, among the absolute best overachieving values offered in all of the Côte de Nuits, as Allan Meadows repeatedly says as well…..You can literally shoot blind and come up aces, without exception. Cyril’s ’14s have turned out remarkably well, i’d say, with a yum yum sense of succulence and lower octane harmoniousness that to me is pretty darn classic; many of you who have already tasted them and then cleaned me out know just what I am talking about. Allan seems to have thought so as well (having tasted them long before being bottled), giving literally every single 2014 Marsannay lieu dit (single parcel) wine a —> “highly recommended” indication. I would say that everything that I tasted in bottle will finish at the top of his range of scores….If you want affordable and way substantial real deal red Burgundy, whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, these are as good as it gets for the money. As to the much anticipated 2015s, the prices are 15% higher ex-cellars, as Cyril is trying to balance the terribly losses of ’16, as well as recognizing that his production is far undervalued in the first place. They are denser than the ’14s, with Cyril recognizing that they may be the finest wines he has made in his career….Allan also gave the —-> “highly recommended” doodad to the ’15s to every one of the Marsannay single parcel wines (except the Longeroies). It doesn’t get better than this for the $…..i’ve made myself clear, yes?
2014 red wines:
2014 Marsannay Clos du Roi – Here we begin what we can consider the 1er crus of the range, single parcel lieu dit wines. From the deeper soils at the northern limit of town, the Clos du Roi is plain gorgeous in its fruit/floral driven personality, toute en finesse, with a suavity of texture and gorgeous dark red fruited perfume that should please any and all. In its low octane, high floral and red fruited personality, this sings of accessible and succulent fruit, with long perfumey prettiness, the likes of which one can only find in Burgundy. If this doesn’t float your boat, Burgundy is not for you.
“Mild reduction pushes what appears to be ripe fruit to the background. Otherwise there is good richness and volume to the bigger and punchier middle weight and mineral-inflected flavors that seem to be extracted directly from sweet cherries, all wrapped in a vibrant, detailed and balanced finale. Worth checking out. (89-91)/2020+” Allan Meadows
2014 Marsannay les Longeroies – Also from the northern side of town but now moving south towards the village, I harvested les Longeroies, and both my back and I can attest to how long long long long the rows are. :0 As you move uphill, the berries get smaller and more millerandé, versus the larger berries and denser bunches on the deeper soils below. This blend of deeper clay soils and shallower rockier soils with varying amounts of limestone chunks make this sort of a crossroads between the fleshier and fruitier style of the Clos du Roi and the more structured and “serious” crus to its south. In aromas, it too is all charm and dark red fruits, that then in the mouth is more savory, with markedly more tension, mineral material, and light tannin. Quite a complete and satisfying wine, you can sense that things are getting more “serious”.
“This is also mildly reduced but the underlying fruit again seems ripe. There is fine punch and mid-palate density on the sleek, delicious and relatively refined medium-bodied flavors that also exude a fine bead of minerality on the balanced and lingering finish that is ever-so-slightly more complex. Good stuff. (89-92)/2022+” Allan Meadows
2014 Marsannay Clos du Jeu – I didn’t get a chance to taste the ’14 Clos du Jeu, but it perennially one of my favorites, and the wine that was my first intro to Cyril’s work. From the southern more structured “serious” portion of Marsannay neighboring les Favières and la Charme aux Prêtres, it is historically quite complete between fruit, savory, and stone flavors. Sounds like from Allan’s review, it is just that, yet another terrific iteration. In fact, Allan chose this bottling as his “wine of week” sometime last year, with a small pulse of cherry pickers cleaning me out accordingly.
“Here there is no reduction to hide the complex and floral-scented red and dark berry fruit aromas that display plenty of earth influence. The mouth feel of the medium weight flavors is also quite sleek as the supporting tannins possess a fine grain, all wrapped in an ever-so-mildly austere, balanced and impressively lingering finish. This should drink well after only a few years of bottle age yet reward 6 to 8. (90-92)/2021+” Allan Meadows
2014 Marsannay la Charme aux Prêtres – In the heart of the stoniest parcels of the village, this is at the core of the “serious stuff” in terms of dry extract material and evolution potential. From old vines planted on the limestone bedrock, this is positively implosive in its sense of tension and mineral mass. The fruit tone is quite airy and red fruited; in its aromas, it reticently offers up red fruited perfume and chalky calcaire aromas of the stoniness to come. I harvested here as well, and got to see for myself how the low vigor and old vines yield almost exclusively tiny millerandé berries, packed with flavor and high skin to juice ratio. Rockheads, this is for you. Smokin’ good. I think that it is a question of personal preference whether one prefers the Charme aux Prêtres or the Favières, as they vie for noblest in the cellar on a consistent basis. I prefer to think of them as equally outstanding, with distinct and quite different personalities. 6pks/case buys are in order here, as its evolutionary potential is outstanding. A little star * here.
“(a limited production wine of around 600 bottles annually). Moderate wood and pungent reduction render the nose impossible to evaluate. The intensely earthy and very serious medium-bodied flavors possess fine concentration as well as plenty of power on the explosively long finish. Chez Audoin it always seems to be a context between this and the Favières and in 2014 it appears as to La Charme wins by a nose if you will excuse the pun. One to look for. (91-93)/2022+” Allan Meadows
2014 Marsannay les Favières – Cyril said that if in a hundred years time Marsannay has a Grand cru, this would be it. Based on the absolutely stunning silky sense of weightless spherically expansive Zen harmony, complexity, and finesse found here, I could hardly argue the point. It is all about gorgeous little red fruits, spices, florals, and minerals woven together in a fashion that is at the heart of Burgundian magic, and would kick major ass in a blind tasting of top flight 1er crus from the prestige villages further south. In fact, Cyril took a Magnum of the 2006 iteration to a tasting at the Clos de Vougeot among fellow vignerons, and he said that hands down, it was everyone’s wine of the night with many “heavy hitters” in attendance. There is just .5 hectares planted here, with more on the way in the years to come. Trust me when I say that 6pk and case buys will be just about the best $200-400 you ever spent on red wine. This has to be one of the most outstanding overachieving values you will ever ever encounter in Burgundy. Have I made myself clear? :0 Two little ** stars here.
“Reduction again renders the nose difficult to assess. Otherwise there is both excellent volume and concentration to the beautifully intense flavors that are finer if slightly less complex on the balanced and sappy finish where a hint of bitter cherry arises. This is also well worth checking out. (90-93)/2022+” Allan Meadows
2014 Fixin le Rozier – A parcel that Cyril has farmed since 2005, it is immediately evident that the soils here are even more austere/rocky, as both the color is and fruit tone is paler red and the wine is less generously fruity, smelling more calcaire. Then, in the mouth, you chew it, but not so much from tannic intensity, just pure dry extract. This is very well done.
A cool, airy and solidly complex nose combines notes of white and red flowers with those of earth, red currant and a hint of raspberry liqueur. There is fine density to the attractively textured and minerally middle weight flavors that culminate in a very mildly austere and rustic finale. This is an excellent Fixin villages and also well-worth your attention. (89-91)/2021+” Allan Meadows
2015 red wines: “Audoin remains ecstatic over his new state-of-the-art cuverie that he believes enabled him to make much better 2015s than he otherwise would have thanks to the ability to rapidly process and then cool warm fruit as it arrived. He reports having begun picking on the 4th of September and his teams were able to harvest quickly because the fruit was so clean. Audoin notes that
“the 2015s are concentrated and serious yet they’re finer than what we made in 2005.” As has been the case in the last few years Audoin, along with Roty and Bruno Clair, continues to demonstrate just how good the wines of Marsannay can be. I recommend them to you plus they offer almost unmatched value in the context of what is typical in the Côte de Nuits today.” – Allan Meadows
I have been persistently inquiring as to when I can offer these, including Mags of the full range!!!. This is an opportunity not to miss, y’all!!! For impressions of each site’s typical character, see the ’14 reviews above…..
Marsannay Cuvée Marie Ragonneau
“Here the expressive nose is similar to that of the Bourgogne but with a bit more complexity. The mouth feel of the middle weight flavors is also relatively supple and round with a bit more size and weight before terminating in a succulent and once again, easy-to-enjoy finish. This too should drink well young. (87-89)/2019+” Allan Meadows
Marsannay Clos du Roy
“A discreet application of wood serves as a relatively subtle backdrop for the fresh, cool and ripe aromas of both red and dark currant, earth and soft floral nuances. I like the sense of underlying tension and punch to the mineral-driven medium-bodied flavors that deliver fine length on the saline-inflected, clean and focused finale. (89-92)/2022+” Allan Meadows
Marsannay Les Longeroies
“There is a discreet application of oak that easily allows the ripe yet cool aromas of black raspberry, cherry, spice and violet scents to shine. The supple, round and solidly concentrated medium weight flavors possess fine volume before concluding in a succulent yet serious and mildly austere finish. (89-91)/2021+” Allan Meadows
Marsannay Clos de Jeu
“There is an exotic tea element to the spicy black cherry and smoked meat-scented nose. The rich, vibrant and suave middle weight flavors exude a fine bead of minerality onto the dusty, textured and beautifully long finish. This well-balanced effort is built-to-reward mid-term cellaring and will need at least a few years first. (89-92)/2022+” Allan Meadows
Marsannay Au Champs Solomon
“While it is by no means intrusive, here the wood treatment is a bit more prominent but even so the ripe and spicy aromas of black cherry liqueur, earth and lavender are easy to appreciate. This too is well-concentrated, tautly muscular and punchy with a subtle minerality helping to add lift to the palate coating, focused, dusty and altogether serious finish. This suave yet structured effort will also need at least a few years of bottle age first. (90-92)/2023+” Allan Meadows
Marsannay les Favières
“This is almost always one of Audoin’s best wines and so it is again in 2015 with its subtly oaked nose of fresh and layered black raspberry, violet and cassis aromas. The rich, full-bodied and mouth coating flavors possess plenty of dry extract that pushes the firm tannic spine to the background on the focused, powerful and dusty finale. This is good stuff though note that it will need at least 4 to 5 years of bottle age first. (90-92)/2023+” Allan Meadows
Marsannay la Charme Aux Prêtres
“(a limited production wine of around 600 bottles annually). This is the first wine in the range to reflect any appreciable amount of reduction but it’s enough to push the underlying fruit and wood scents to the background. Otherwise there is excellent detail and intensity to the concentrated and mouth coating medium-bodied flavors that terminate in an exceptionally rich finish that delivers sneaky good length. Again, moderate patience will be necessary. (89-92)/2023+” Allan Meadows
Fixin le Rozier
“A markedly sauvage nose displays earthy and forest floor-inflected red berry fruit nose that is trimmed in just enough wood to notice. The racy, intense and delineated flavors are delicious yet curiously, the finish is borderline grapey though this character will likely dissipate once the wine is bottled. (87-89)/2021+” Allan Meadows
Gevrey Chambertin villages
“(from Les Crais and La Croix des Champs, both of which are on the eastern side of D974). This is also markedly sauvage with plenty of forest floor and humus nuances on the plum and dark pinot fruit aromas. There is outstanding richness to the full-bodied, forward and enveloping flavors that exhibit fine power on the suave, round and dusty finish that is also sneaky long. (88-91)/2022+” Allan Meadows
I am psyched that Cyril has finally opened the cellar door and joined team Down to Earth, our longtime friendship continuing to blossom as a fruitful business relationship. The response for the gorgeously balanced ’14s was as good as I could have hoped for, people clearly seeing why his cellar is such a tremendous asset to any Burgundy lover. Like I said more than a few times, it doesn’t get any better than this for the money……I have been anxiously asking about the ’15s, hopping right to it now that he has sent me pricing….and so…..get it while the gettin’ is good!!
As always, with any questions or interests: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHEERS TO CYRIL, BRITTANY, AND CHARLIE, YOUNG FLEDGLING FAMILY OF MARSANNAY!!! TO CYRIL’S SERVICE TO THE MANY NOBLE TERROIRS OF MARSANNAY!!!