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It’s funny how fortunes turn. Some spirits deemed essential fade, while others take their place. One such spirit is marc. Fashioned from the pomace, or pulpy skins and seeds left over from winemaking, eau de vie de marc was considered an essential digestif after a substantial meal much like Cognac, Calvados, or Armagnac. Much like grappa, its Italian counterpart, it ranges in refinement from sophisticated and supple to rustic and raspy. (David McMillan and Frédéric Morin in their The Art of Living According to Joe Beef compare it to “legal rustic moonshine” and suggest it should have a pickled snake in the bottle.) Years ago, finishing up a meal with an espresso corrected with marc was nearly essential, yet now it is relatively unknown, having been supplanted by grappa and other digestifs.
The prettiest and most refined of marcs is Marc de Bourgogne. And one of its finest producers was Mugnier founded by Francois ‘Frédéric’ Mugnier in Lyons in 1856. Over the ensuing decades Mugnier became a hugely successful producer of aperitifs, absinthes, cassis, liqueur, and aromatized wines. In the 1880s as phylloxera ravaged the Côte d’Or, Frédéric purchased large tracts of vineyards in Chambolle-Musigny and Nuits-St.-Georges. Years later his grandson, Jacques-Frédéric sold the aperitif company to l’Héritier-Guyot in order to focus on the vineyards in Chambolle-Musigny and his son is the famed Frédéric, who produces some of the village’s top wines.
Even after they sold the distilling business, the Mugniers continued to produce some of the finest Marcs de Bougogne. We were quite fortunate to acquire a sizeable lot of older Marc de Chambolle-Musigny V.S.O.P. from a cellar in Europe. To the best of our knowlege, the bottles date from the early 1970s. The contents are lovely, refined, aromatic, and complex; one senses the origins in Chambolle-Musigny on the perfumed nose and supple palate. This will make for a sublime end to an elegant meal. -John McIlwain
This aged (dating from the 1970s, we believe) Marc de Chambolle-Musigny from Mugnier and l’Héritier-Guyot is a beautiful expression of Marc de Bourgogne. While some marc can be charitably called rustic, Mugnier's is refined, high-toned, and complex. The nose is floral and subtly fruity and the palate is silken. This is one of the finest marcs we've sampled as well as a piece of Burgundian history. Please note: this marc was stored in a wine cellar in Europe and the labels reflect this from minor stains to deteriorated. -John McIlwain