I’m pretty sure that my first bottle of Marnes Blanches was a gift I got at the shop (a bottle of Trousseau) as a very, very green wine pro. Saying that the wine went over my head doesn’t do justice to the Fromonts and their ability to make wines that will be enthusiastically enjoyed by anyone who has an open-minded interest in wine (or a pulse).
But I drank it, thought it was excellent, and kind of kept moving. I remember Rebekah asked me if I drank it and I gave some sort of vague response like, “yeah, it was good.” But tasting the variety of wines made by the Fromonts over the past two or three years has invoked a series of revelations about the kinds of wines I love and seek out. Several of them represent my ideal of what wine should taste like and are wines I could conceivably drink everyday for the rest of my life. Anywhere I see Marnes Blanches bottles, I tend to buy them, and try to hang on to at least a few to check back in with at a later date.
Pauline and Geraud Fromont are both from the Jura and started their domaine in 2006 in Sud Revermont. They farm around 12 hectares comprised of Savagnin, Chardonnay, Trousseau, Poulsard, and Pinot Noir. They also work with some outside fruit for Coup de Jus, a project created to help offset a surprisingly challenging vintage in 2017 (which is now pretty much the norm for the region). They make a dizzying range of wines and do it all just about as well as it can be done.
For me, revelations with MB often occur after the first glass or at the end of the bottle rather than the first sip. Cremant Reserve: mind blown, Savagnin Aux Bois: mind blown, Poulsard: mind blown. But the reason why the wines blow minds is a little different than why most wines blow people’s minds. They aren’t super weird, they aren’t laser beams and they don’t flex some convoluted elevage in some obscure vessel. They’re subtle, nuanced, complex, and (most importantly) utterly delicious.
I remember drinking their Poulsard at work and just not being able to really understand how something could be so weightless and delicate and also so packed with flavor. I remember drinking the Savagnin Aux Bois and not really being able to understand how a wine could be communicating so much dense information and yet still be so pleasurable and drinkable. I remember drinking the Cremant Reserve and not being able to understand how the hell we were selling the wine for like $30. The wines are polished and precise but retain a sense of humility and groundedness that for me is very exciting. They shine as wines for drinking way more than they do as wines for tasting – which they’re pretty good at too.
I think a lot of us (myself included) drink a ton of wine – especially from the Jura – for the shock factor. We want wines that are explosive, intense, and send people’s jaws racing for the ground. There are a few producers whose wines do that and I cherish them immensely. But I wouldn’t necessarily talk about or think about these wines in that way. They’re more like an intimate moment watching the best person do your favorite thing and you just get to sit there and witness: equal parts ecstasy and disbelief. The reds are so fresh, the sparkling wines are such stunning values, and the whites are as good as it gets.
Marnes Blanches is one of the iconic domaines sold at Domestique and the wines are truly beloved by everybody who’s ever worked at 10 Florida. And there’s never a lot, so don’t be an asshole!
-Peter Njoroge, started working at Domestique at the ripe age of 21, now finishing up grad school at USC and somm-ing at Jon & Vinny's (a true wine wunderkind)
(limit one bottle per customer for each wine)
Poulsard 2020, $42
Semi-carbonic vinification of a new parcel made from a massale selection of old vines from a nearby winemaker. Naked, honest, and tip-toes the line between complexity and pure hedonism.
Trousseau 2020, $52
The third vintage of Trousseau made at the domaine, coming from vines planted in 2014. A touch more extracted and substantive than the Poulsard. A deeply layered wine that will taste great now and has the potential to develop in bottle.
Pinot Noir 2020, $46
8-day whole cluster fermentation with elevage in neutral barrels from vineyards in Cesancy, which features the white marl after which the domaine is named.
Marc du Jura NV, $84
An eau-de-vie made from the pomace of Savagnin Muscate, a unique local strain of Savagnin with elevated aromatics. An extreme rarity nestled within another.
The Empreinte wines represent the sous-voile offerings at Marnes Blanches, meaning “imprinted” with traditional oxidative winemaking techniques. A serious, nutty, transportive experience for lovers of wines produced under flor. In my experience, one of the few sous-voile wines that people keep reaching for after it’s all gone.
Vin Jaune 2014, $124
The greatest testament to the Fromont’s commitment to the production of traditional sous-voile wines. 100% Savagnin aged under flor for 7 years. For lovers of charcuterie and/or those with the patience to set and forget this wine as it makes its ascension in bottle.
Topped-up Chardonnay from 65-year-old vines that’s aged 22 months in old barrels. From a holding in Vincelles grown on old fossilized limestone.
Cremant NV, $31
100 percent Chardonnay from young vines made methode traditionnelle with no dosage and aged a minimum of 18 months on lees. The preamble to the constitution. Firm, fresh, elegant.
Cremant Reserve NV, $40
80 percent Chardonnay and 20 percent Pinot Noir that spends 24 months on the lees. Truly a world class wine and if there’s a better deal in sparkling wine – do let me know. This wine deserves a spot next to any of the great wines I’ve had in my life.
Coming from different parcels around the town of Gevingy, planted on lias marl. Sublime, sexy, and content to reveal itself slowly. 12 months of elevage seems short only in the context of the other wines made at the estate.
Jeff says it tastes like nothing else in the world and I happen to agree. A local strain of Savagnin that brings amplified aromatics but doesn’t compromise on the salinity or texture that makes Savagnin great. One of the MB wines with the most wow factor.
Coming from some of the oldest vines at the domaine (planted in 1958 on white marl). 11 month elevage in neutral barrels. One of the emblematic whites in a lineup of great ones.
Younger vine Savagnin planted on red marl in Sainte-Agnes. One of the most refined and cerebral wines in the lineup. Try and give it a chance to breathe; it may taste even better the next day.
65-year-old vines grown on red limestone that spends two years of elevage in big foudres. There’s a tendency to call any Chardonnay that’s good Burgundian. I don’t know if I’d say that but expect finesse and balance in spades.
From 50-year-old vines in Cesancy planted on the eponymous white marl. Broad and powerful, bringing lots of minerality and expressiveness. For me, fruit takes a bit of a back seat.
Young vines of Savagnin planted in Vincelles that spends 22 months in barrel. Length is one of those vague wine terms that I don’t think is particularly informative. I think people mean depth, persistence, complexity, etc. This is all of those things. My favorite wine from MB and a portal to another dimension of deliciousness.
Gamay sourced from some of the legendary Bruno Debize’s old-vine parcels in Beaujolais. Lighter maceration with the Jurassian imprint of the Fromont’s signature red winemaking style.
100% Grenache coming from Southwest France. Harvested super early, this is a fruit-forward, delicious light red made from certified biodynamic fruit. Where did it all go?