Profile: Maison Louis Jadot (Beaune)

Update 7.10.2009(21.3.2003)billn

Update: Cuvérie work & tasting some 2008s in 2009

Louis Jadot has, perhaps, one of the most recognisable labels on the retailers shelf. Founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot, Jadot is situated in the centre of Beaune. To visit the ‘offices’ is quite an experience as they are housed in a beautifully renovated old ‘Hotel’ from the 19th Century. Directly under the ‘Hotel’ are the old and labyrinthine cellars of the 14th century “Couvent des Jacobins”.

Today these cellars are more for show. Though much of the wine for the French market and the reserves are stored here, by far the biggest volume of wine is now stored and ‘raised’ at their new winery – more about that later.

A significant core of Jadot’s domaine vines were assembled some 60 years prior to the formation of Maison Jadot, including their famed Puligny Les Demoiselles vineyard – altogether eleven grand and premier cru vineyards totaling about 16 hectares – all were left to the Jadot family. Those original domaine holdings are highlighted on their respective bottle labels as Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot.

The estate, which uses the strap-line “Burgundy, and nothing but Burgundy” is very large in Burgundian terms; 70 hectares are owned including Beaujolais. From this 70 hectares, 60 wines are produced, however, if you include the négociant side of the business, you are now talking about 150 hectares and 150 different wines. With the exception of Chablis (where Jadot purchase some grape must and barrels in the region before moving those barrels to Beaune), Maconnais and Beaujolais (where wines are vinified in the region), all wine comes to Beaune to the ‘new’ winery for vinification.

The new winery was opened in 1996. From the road it is unlikely that the winery would grab your attention, but inside is something different. At the top level the shape is roughly circular with a central podium surrounded by open-top, wood fermentation tanks of various sizes. At the circumference of the circle are wooden barrels and stainless steel fermentation tanks. Above your head is a very impressive chestnut wood roof with central windows – oh and the place is spotlessly clean. Below ground level is the main barrel storage area, holding roughly 6,000 barrels – approximately 25% are new each year.
[Cellar update: here]

Jadot say that they mean to imposed no style on their wines – other than from the vineyards themselves. Tasting in January, in the (11°C) cellar, it was true to say that there was no obvious style, a whiff of oak in one wine – none in another, but there was to my mind some consistency in how the wines presented themselves: texturally the balance of high-ish acidity and fruit seemed consistent even if the tannins presented themselves in many ways. Jadot are often described as a ‘safe choice’ – I would add ‘high quality’ to that description.

The Wines

A lovely range of 2001’s with both the reds and whites showing well. What was also nice, was the opportunity try a couple of ‘older’ red wines to help put the 2001 vintage into context. The 1996 wine in particular showed in a very similar fashion to the 2001’s – the perfect illustration of a ‘long-term’ vintage. My guide was ex-sommelier Anthony Ravat. Anthony was very ‘personable’ and showed an in-depth knowledge of the vineyard holdings and the wines we tasted.

2001 Côte de Nuits Villages Blanc, Vaucrains
Lovely sweet peach and melon nose though slightly yeasty, vanilla too. Very round in the mouth with good acidity. Very pleasant.
2001 Savigny-les-Beaune Blanc
This wine contains a proportion of Pinot Blanc which was planted in 1962 – almost the last possible date to plant before it was legislated against. Nose is a complete change from the last wine, richer, though perhaps oak derived. The palate is much fuller than the previous wine with nicer acidity. Fresh and long, reminds me of Meursault. Very good.
2001 Saint Aubin Blanc, Gamay
Nose is more mineral with grapefruit. Better acidity and the fruit is very persistent. Good wine.
2001 Beaune Blanc 1er, Bressandes
The nose is like a more mineral version of the Côte de Nuits Villages wine. Also more mineral on the palate. Not as long as the last wine. Very Chablis style. Interesting.
2001 Chassagne-Montrachet, Clos de la Chapelle – Duc de Magenta
Much deeper nose underpinning citrus notes. Full bodied with good ‘freshness’. A bigger wine this, with medium-plus length.
2001 Meursault, Charmes
Nose is subdued but betrays some citrussy notes. More citrussy notes on the palate too. A bold wine which comes with a big and very interesting finish.
2001 Puligny-Montrachet 1er, Sous le Puits
Very understated – but ‘smooth’ nose. Perhaps a little buttery, but good acidity. A rich wine with lots of volume in the mouth. Persistent, finishing with a hint of vanilla.
2000 Puligny-Montrachet, Champs-Gains
Gold. Buttery nose which is sweet and wide. Lovely acidity. Very concentrated, intense even in the finish. A ‘bigger wine’ than most of the 2001’s.
2000 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, Morgeot
Paler gold. Very reserved nose. Oak is a different style here, comes through on the explosive finish with a hint of vanilla. Good wine.
2001 Corton-Charlemagne
Paler colour. Nose is of intense white flowers. The palate is big, but perhaps a little more restrained, elegant even, than the 2000 Puligny. Finishes well.
I took the opportunity of asking our ex sommelier what he would recommend to eat with such a wine, so how about: a veal chop with mashed potatoes and mushrooms, or perhaps poultry done in a creamy mushroom sauce!

2001 Santenay Clos de Malte
Medium-plus colour. High toned, red and black fruit nose. More red fruits on the palate, coupled with good acidity and furry tannins. Good-plus.
2001 Beaune 1er, Clos de l’Ecu
First presentation of this wine chez Jadot. Darker in colour with red berries on the nose. Good acidity and medium tannins. Red and black cherry fruit on the palate coupled with medium-plus length. Good-plus again.
2001 Pommard 1er, Clos de la Commaraine (Monopole)
Lots of black and red oxides in the soil, giving a more Nuits style of wine. Dark colour. Nose is deep, but almost closed. Good acidity and prominent – though smooth tannins. Lovely black fruits here. I like the style.
2001 Corton Grand Cru
Medium-plus colour. Deep nose with griottes. Broad palate with nice fruit definition of black fruits. Only medium tannins and good acidity. Good wine.
2001 Nuits Saint Georges 1er, Boudots
Very faint toast on the nose, otherwise sweet but closed. Good acidity and medium-plus tannins. Finishes with a little coffee. Beefy, but still reasonably refined. Very good.
2001 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er, Clos St.Jacques
The nose is medium weight with lovely pure fruits. The big tannins are very silky. Lovely density of fruit, and very long. This is excellent – I’ve bought some!
2001 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru
A wine from the Chambolle area. The nose is more forward than the ‘CSJ’, but quite delicate. Strong tannins, almost as silky as the ‘CSJ’. The fruit is a ‘summer pudding’ with very good persistence. Excellent again.
1996 Savigny-les Beaune 1er, Les Vergelesses
Deeper colour than most of the 2001’s. The reserved nose still shows deep black cherry. A black fruit flavour profile – blackcurrants. The tannins and acidity are very similar to the 2001’s. Still very young.
1998 Vosne-Romanée 1er, Suchots
Again very deep colour. More oak on the nose than any of the previous wines. Still, there is smooth cherry pie behind this oak. Lots of volume in the mouth, and lots of tannin to – but quite silky. Nice acidity and very long. Very lovely.

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