Tasted in Beaune with Frédéric Barnier and Thibault Gagey, 04 November 2019.
Louis Jadot’s domaine wines from Beaune are something of an enigma for me – I have always been aware of their ‘prestige cuvée’ the Clos des Ursules – owning a few older vintages – and I also have some négoce Beaunes from them at home, but their other domaine wines of Beaune, I saw rarely and, with intimacy, knew little about.
Jadot actually owns close to 25 hectares in Beaune – in both colours – 17 climats that are all vinified as such. The only exception to that is their Beaune 1er Cru ‘Celebration’ that has been a blend of various climats with 24 months of elevage; it is still made from time to time, there will be one, for instance, in 2018. The 2009 ‘Celebration’ was the first for many years – “It’s for grand millésimes” says Frédéric. It seems the grand millésimes are becoming more regular, as there were wines in 2009, 2012, 2015 and a 2018 is on its way – every 3 years seems the rhythm!
Returning to Jadot’s other domaine Beaunes, they are bottled, ‘though sometimes the Pertuisots not,’ councils Frédéric. Les Cras has been bottled separately since 2012 “Dennis Perret in Beaune is a good source” says Frédéric, “Bressandes and Grèves Clos Blanc too for the whites,” he adds.
Clos des Ursules
There are a number of administrative distinctions for Jadot’s domaine wines, in this case, their Beaune Clos des Ursules wears the ownership of ‘Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot.‘ The vines were purchased in 1826 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot – some of the first vines of the domaine and preceding the establishment of the firm of Louis Jadot by over 40 years.
The previous owners of these vines had been the religious order of the Ursuline nuns in Beaune – actually the Convent of St Ursula which had been established in Beaune in 1626 – hence the name retained for the labels today. Like many religious orders, there were donations of vines, so the convent at one stage were the owners of approximately 24 hectares of vines. The clos of the Ursulines itself referred to a section of vines within the (current Beaune 1er cru) vines of Vignes-Franches, but Louis Jadot have chosen to write ‘Clos des Ursules 1er Cru’ rather than ‘Vignes-Franches 1er Cru’ on their labels since 2011. There are no records, of course, but this wine could have been produced by (or for) the nuns for 100s of years prior to their purchase by Louis Jadot.
The Beaune 1er Cru of Vignes-Franches is located in the mid-slope of the southern hill of Beaune – towards Pommard – the vines sitting under the premier crus of Clos des Mouches and Aigrots, it covers 8.5 hectares, bordered to the north by Pertuisots and the south by Boucherottes – both 1er crus. Historically owners of in Vignes-Franches did not have to pay tax on this land – you can translate ‘Vignes Franches’ as ‘free vines.’ Louis Jadot owns four parcels of vines here that touch upon one another, some of which came from the Germain estate; the clos itself – and there are real, if low, walls here – is a little over 2 hectares and has two sections that are separated by a vineyard road – Hautes with 1.26 hectares and Bas with 0.88 hectares – so, in reality, it is more like two different ‘clos’ next to each other. It is the top of this lower ‘bas’ section where Jadot have made some efforts to renovate a beautiful cabotte in 2019. Jadot also have 2 other parcels, one in Beaune 1er Boucherottes and the last is the Clos Boucherottes – these last two being contiguous with the Clos des Ursules vines and extending to the ‘border’ with Pommard. In terms of vine ages, Clos des Ursules Hautes was planted in 1963, Clos des Ursules Bas in 1975 – the team here look to replant a section every 25 vears or so.
As for the winemaking, Frédéric says ‘never say never,‘ but this is not a wine that he considers suits the inclusion of whole clusters…
Impressive is the relative consistency of the colours 17, 18, 15, 14 – I’d have expected more variation. But to drink today, I think I’d take the combination of what 2014 offers, All the others beg some higher measure of patience. But this is clearly a consistently great wine!
2019 Beaune 1er Clos des Ursules
For the fun: Deep, super-long, but only half a harvest – 25 hl/ha. “Our question in 2019 was always – ‘but is the skin ripe?’”
Not to be bottled before March-April 2020.
A nose that starts with some impact, but then softens, adds flowers. Driving with beautiful acidity – a wine with a place to go – a depth of flavour here, complex, a suggestion of salinity, a more mineral finish that radiates from the core. Long, very silky here in this finish. Great wine!
A faintly mineral, graphite, spice mix that recalls to an extent the 2018. Open, nicely architectural volume in the mouth – silky, depth of flavour – ooh this is not far behind the 18 – a great 17 I think! Slowly mouth-watering, once more a flavour that radiates its waves into the finish.
More depth to this nose, more cushioned when poured but then tightens a little. Here is a suggestion of tannin that is otherwise covered in the previous wines – but more depth and cushioning to the flavour in that depth. Intensity that holds – impressive though more phenolic – to wait longer for – great wine again?
2015 Beaune 1er Clos des Ursules
A more serious, tighter nose – the cork or the wine? Maybe a suggestion of higher tones. In the mouth this is a wine with sweeping lines. One that opens wider than the others in the mid and finish – more silk and plenty of structure, but with a little more discretion than the, still modest, 2016.
A little more age but beautifully perfumed – ooh this is great – what an invitation. Drive, more energy than most, a tannin that more resembles the 2016, but so juicy at the same time. Almost sparkly in the finish – a weight of faintly chewy, faintly astringent – but oh-so faint. Delicious wine.
2009 Beaune 1er Clos des Ursules
Some development but a nose that really reminds of the 17 and 18, not a full power aromatic but one that pulls me in. Lots of width, a slowly growing intensity of flavour – the style of this cuvée radiating the flavour wide and long over the palate. Complex and still young, delicious though I’d still drink most before this – perhaps not the 15…
Deep, fruity, a touch of smoke. Drive, a little narrower on the palate, still plenty of tannin showing but has practically lost the astringency – a high-toned fruit in here – smoked like the nose, more dried leaves in the mix, but power is here too. Really a length here – so persistent, so young – still!