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Burgundy: The Movers & Shakers

With the stellar 2005 vintage and the rise of supertalented young winemakers, world interest in Burgundy has reached a fever pitch. Here's the lowdown.

There are many famous names in Burgundy, ones that every Burgophile knows: Among them are Dominique Laurent, Aubert de Villaine and Jean-Marc Roulot. And there are quite a few others who may be less familiar, but who play a key role in Burgundy today—whether out in the world or locally. Here are five movers and shakers everyone who loves wine should know.

Pierre and Fabienne Escoffier are the husband-and-wife owners of Ma Cuisine, the restaurant in the Burgundian city of Beaune that is a favorite of wine collectors and local producers alike. Indeed, the Escoffiers count many of Burgundy's leading vignerons as friends, including Anne Gros, Dominique Lafon and Jean-Marc Roulot, whose wines can be found on their very reasonably priced list. Gros wines, for example, start with her "simple" Burgundies and run to her 2001 Richebourg ($445). The Escoffiers also run a wine shop, La Cave Sainte Hélène. Passage Ste. Hélène, Beaune; 011-33-3-80-22-30-22.

Jean-Marie Guffens is one of Burgundy's leading innovators—and one of its most controversial figures. A Belgian former wine merchant, Guffens created his own small domaine, Guffens-Heynen, with his wife, Maine; he also launched a larger négociant business, Verget, with Jean Rijckaert (they have since split up), where he has set new standards of excellence, producing breathtaking whites from grapes purchased throughout Burgundy, from Chablis to Pouilly-Fuissé. Even more astonishing, he has proven that wines from the unheralded Mâconnais region can be as majestic and mind­-blowing as a grand cru Montrachet.

Claude and Lydia Bourguignon It was nearly 20 years ago that Claude Bourguignon, a Paris-born microbiologist, declared, "The soils of many of Burgundy's appellations [depleted by the use of chemical fertilizers] have no more life in them than the Sahara desert." Since that time, Bourguignon and his wife, Lydia, have advised wine­makers internationally about how to reanimate their soils naturally. Their clients include the best wineries in the world, including Romanée-Conti and Lafon in Burgundy and Jacques Selosse in Champagne.

Jacques and Jeremy Seysses Jacques Seysses built the esteemed Domaine Dujac in Morey-Saint-Denis nearly from scratch and has consistently produced elegant, fine-grained red Burgundies—from simple village wines to grands crus—for decades. Now Jacques and his son Jeremy have become négociants, too, expanding in Morey and Gevrey-Chambertin and adding Chambolle-Musigny and Puligny-Montrachet to their portfolio. (They're also invested in the south of France.)

Frédéric Magnien When Michel Magnien refused to make the winemaking changes his son Frédéric believed necessary, the younger Magnien struck out on his own, starting a négociant business. Some 10 years later, Frédéric Magnien is making highly acclaimed wines with grapes purchased from vineyards all over the Côte d'Or. Some of his most extraordinary bottlings have come from grand cru vineyards like Charmes-Chambertin. This hasn't escaped the notice of Michel Magnien: Fréd­éric is now making wine for his father as well.

Jacqueline Friedrich lives in France. Her most recent book is The Wines of France (Ten Speed Press).

Published October 2007
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