hibaut Marion has been running Domaine Seguin-Manuel since 2004. When it comes to winemaking he supports a hands-off approach, with no chaptalization and relatively short maceration.
– If you try to make a wine with a robust structure you lose something else. Part of the magic of the pinot noir is all the subtleties of the aromas. That is why I have chosen to make the kind of wines I do, wines that are not hidden behind too much extraction, too much oak or too much alcohol.
Originally an old family domaine in Savigny-lès-Beaune Domaine Seguin-Manuel is now a combined domaine and négociant business producing some 70 000 bottles annually. Thibaut Marion's family were the owners of négociant firm Chanson Père et Fils until it was bought by Champagne Bollinger in 1999.
– I decided to keep the name because of history, says Thibaut Marion. Domaine Seguin-Manuel was founded in 1824, but the family had been working the vineyards since 1720. Burgundy is about terroir, but it is also about history.
Since 2005 the winery is located in Beaune, not far from the town's swimming pool. The core of the production are the domaine wines from the Côte de Beaune – Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Pommard, Savigny-lès-Beaune and Beaune.
– In six years we moved from sustainable production in the vineyards to organic, even though we are not certified, says Thibaut Marion. The first fully organic vintage was 2009. It works well and it has been good for the quality. At first I wasn't sure whether it would improve the quality of the grapes. We did it for the environment, but as it turned out it definitely had an impact on quality. But I'm not sure if that's because it's organic or of if it's because you care more about the vines when you're working organically.
Thibaut Marion believes that the results are more interesting for pinot noir than chardonnay. Pinot noir is much more, so you can't afford any mistakes.
– Growing pinot noir organically means you have to visit the vineyards very often. Initially the yields decreased when I began the conversion in 2004. I stopped using weedkillers and began to plough the vineyards instead. During two years yields really went down. It takes time for the roots to go deeper down in the ground.
For the grand crus there is a maximum of 50 per cent of new oak. The other wines receive less and the generics none.
– The grapes for my Bourgogne rouge come from vineyards on the Côte de Beaune, from vineyards around Volnay, Chorey-lès-Beaune and Savigny-lès-Beaune. I work with different growers; each element brings something to the final cuvée. My appellation Bourgogne wines are the only exceptions in that they vinified by the growers. The second fermentation, the malolactic fermentation, takes place in my cellar. I then make the blends for the cuvées. For all the other wines – grand cru, premier cru and village – I buy grapes.
– A big part of my production comes from my own vineyards. The heart of Domaine Seguin-Manuel is in Savigny-lès-Beaune. In addition to this I have bought vines in Beaune, Pommard and Puligny-Montrachet.
Domaine Seguin-Manuel has three Beaune premier crus – Cent Vignes, Champimonts and Clos des Mouches. The first two red, the third white.
– In general, compared with Savigny-lès-Beaune, there is a little bit more clay in Beaune, says Thibaut Marion. You notice this in the wines; they are a bit more structured. Savigny-lès-Beaune are excellent wines to drink after five or six years, whereas the Beaune wines you can age longer, say seven to ten years. The winemaking is exactly the same, so what you have is the impact of the soil, the terroir.
– My Champimonts vines are 40 years old. They produce small grapes, which means you get a structured, more concentrated wine. It's steep and incredibly stony there. When we plough… Well, you could build a wall with all the stones. It's very well-drained. Champimonts is in the southern part of the Beaune appellation, towards Pommard, whereas Cent Vignes is in the northern part, on the Savigny-lès-Beaune side. Cent Vignes is very velvety. Champimonts is the opposite, much more full-bodied and with a potential for long ageing.
On grand cru level Thibaut Marion has five wines – Corton-Charlemagne, Bâtard-Montrachet, Clos de Vougeot, Grands Echézeaux and Corton.
– For the Corton I use 50 per cent new oak, he says. It is basically a Corton Maréchaudes, but since there is a little bit of Les Combes in there as well I can't put it on the label. The quantities are too small to make separate cuvées. For production reasons you can't make just one barrel of red wine.
The old vines Meursault of Seguin-Manuel comes from Clos du Cromin on the Volnay side of Meursault.
– It's a very early-ripening plot, says Thibaut Marion. People tend to expect a Meursault to be full-bodied and buttery. But Clos du Cromin is up on the slope, not on the deep soils with much clay. This means the style is more like the premier crus and in terms of winemaking my impact is very limited. There is not much bâtonnage, I don't stir up the lees much. I want to keep the freshness of the wine.
– There is not one single recipe for making wine in Burgundy. It is all about the interpretation of a terroir.
© 2012 Ola Bergman