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This is where the Côte de Nuits begins, with the Marsannay appellation as a shining new star at the beginning of the 21st century. Uniquely, in Burgundy, it produces all three types of wine: white, red, and rosé. Only a short distance from the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin (International City of Gastronomy and Wine) located in Dijon, Marsannay proudly bears the colours of the climats of Burgundy, fourteen of which should soon rise to the rank of Premier Cru, from “Le Clos du Roy” in the north to “Champs Perdrix” in the south.
Fine wines became less prevalent here during the nineteenth century, as was the case throughout Burgundy, after the French Revolution. As industrialisation flourished, Dijon, Chenôve, Marsannay, and Couchey continued to produce everyday wines long after other villages, to quench the thirst of workers who could not afford great wines. Thus, in the 1930s, these wine-growing sites could only obtain the Burgundy regional appellation, as they no longer had the requisite number of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines for the appellations Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Village.
The Marsannay vineyard became prosperous in Gallo-Roman times, and continued to produce sought-after wines throughout history. A large monastery dedicated to “St Urbain” established the excellence of many Marsannay wines: Les Longeroies, Les Favières, Les Récilles, Les Argilières, among others. The renowned “Clos des Portes” was handed over to the monks of Epoisses in 1189. Later, in 1443, during the reign of the Dukes of Burgundy, one of the biggest tournaments of the time, the Pas de l'Arbre Charlemagne, was held in Marsannay. The historian Courtépée (1721-1781), referring to the wines of Marsannay, wrote: “its wines are comparable to those of Nuits”. In 1851, Denis Morelot recalled that “he had tasted fifteen-year-old wines that still retained their fire, demonstrating wine-making skills that deserved to be recognised by the wine trade". In 1857, Auguste Luchet recalled that “in the past, the wine produced in Chenôve was favoured not only by the Duke of Burgundy, but also by the canons of Autun, connoisseurs to a man.”
Fortunately, as early as 1919, a visionary winemaker, Joseph Clair-Daü, had foreseen that Gamay and table wines had no future in Marsannay, and instead replanted Pinot and Chardonnay vines. In the years following the Second World War, the entire vineyard had once again adopted these noble grape varieties, and so the Marsannay appellation came to life in 1987, bringing together the vineyards of Chenôve, Marsannay, and Couchey, slowing down urbanization, and establishing a high-quality vineyard, with a surface area second only to that of Gevrey-Chambertin.
It is therefore perfectly natural for the Marsannay vineyard, with such an excellent reputation throughout history (as prestigious as that of Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, or Nuits-Saint-Georges), to receive the Village appellation in 1987, under the impetus of Charles Quillardet, Bernard Clair, Jean-Louis Huguenot, Jean Fournier, Albert Derey, and a few others. The time is now ripe for the next generation to step forward and work together to achieve Premier Cru status for Marsannay by 2025.