The Domaine Frédéric Magnien is a négoçiant house which is why, without owning any vines, the firm can produce an impressive portfolio of wines from the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune. The success of the domaine can be seen in the expansion of the volume of barrels produced: rising from 21 fûts in 1995 to more than 1,000 in recent vintages. And this is not reflective of a decline in quality -- Frédéric Magnien vinifies almost 30 premiers crus reds and 9 red grands crus. Making a good wine in the under par 2004 vintage would confirm the wine-maker's skill. This Clos de Bèze 2004 starts on fresh black currant, its slightly vegetal, raspberry, moss, a flat aroma profile. Monochrome. On the palate this pinot starts with tart blackberry, there is surprisingly good berry fruit given the lack of sunshine in 2004. There is nevertheless oregano and thyme on the finish reflecting the best that can be hoped for: sweet stalks. Makes me think of a two-tone Ford cortina being driven by an elderly Tom Cobbold in a flat cap. This Clos de Bèze 2004 wins plaudits for achieving good quality in a tough vintage but given the limitations of the year scores just 20 / 30 for a Clos de Bèze. Tasted courtesy of the Albert Lee private reserve.