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A Barrel Tasting of 23 White & Red Wines from Burgundy

Christian Dalbavie, French Portfolio Specialist for Kobrand – Louis Jadot’s American Importer and part-owner — was recently in the State of Connecticut to preview the 2019 vintage for store buyers. The 2019 vintage is still in barrel, and will not appear in stores until September or October.


SOME FAMILY HISTORY


Louis Jadot is one of the biggest players in Burgundy, both in its role as Négociant (blender and marketer of wines whose grapes are bought from individual vineyard owners), and as an Owner in its own right. So its wines form an early benchmark of sorts for the vintage to come.


“Maison Louis Jadot” wines are the House’s négociant wines. “Domaine Louis Jadot” wines, on the other hand, hail from Jadot’s own vineyards, while the “Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot” wines are Jadot’s very best from those own-vineyards.


The Gagey family married into the Jadot family; wines from Domaine Gagey come from that family’s original domaines. J.A. Ferret, Château des Jacques, and Domaine Prieur-Brunet are other famous domaines that came under the Louis Jadot umbrella at various points in time.


Louis Jadot itself was partially sold to Kobrand in 1985. The Maison and Domaine Louis Jadot wines are now Kobrand’s. The Héritiers and Gagey wines still belong to the Jadot and Gagey families, respectively.


PRELIMINARIES


The Jadot Distributor in Connecticut is Brescome Barton Worldwide Wines, which has the largest portfolio of fine wines, and one of the highest-quality lineups, in the State. The wines will be available this Fall at a number of retailers in Greenwich and throughout Connecticut, including Glenville Wine & Spirits, where I tasted them at the kind invitation of Owner Greg Carlon and Manager Paul Laveris.


Louis Jadot is obviously not the only winemaker in Burgundy. I will be reporting on other producers as I hear about, and hopefully taste, their wines. But if you are a fan of Burgundy, do remember that this is considered by all an exceptional vintage, and that these wines will go fast. The buzz reminds me of the craziness surrounding 2010 Brunellos. A word to the wise: plan ahead.


THE TASTING


Anytime Burgundy comes up, two questions always take center stage: how much are you willing to pay for prestige? And the related query: what is the best value?


Burgundy at this level has tipped its hat ever so slightly to reality by shipping in 6-bottle cases instead of the historical 12. Prices are suggested retail prices; they may differ depending on the store.


We tasted 2 Grand Cru Burgundies, 7 Premiers Crus, 1 Tête de Cru (the top wine in a producer’s range), and 13 other Burgundies that included 2 Cru Beaujolais. Beaujolais is part of Burgundy, even if many people think of it as being its own region; Cru Beaujolais comes from one of 10 villages that are deemed to have superior Beaujolais wines.


GRAND CRU WINES


Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru – $1620/case; $270/bottle

All the wines in this tasting are from barrel, so their complexity is not apparent yet. The wines have a certain binary quality, full of fruit, to be sure, but with an almost overwhelming acidity. Later development can only be hinted at, but this Chardonnay was already developing a beautiful butterscotch that is so characteristic of great Corton, one of the apex appellations in all of Burgundy.


Domaine Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru – $950/case; $237.50/bottle

Another wine that is always center-stage when people talk about what great Burgundy is. This sample had huge amounts of oak, acidity, fruit and tannin that haven’t found individual expression yet, but are clearly already knitting and very finely integrated. A really pleasurable experience.


PREMIER CRU & TÊTE de CRU WINES


Domaine Gagey Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru Les Boudots – $798/case; $133/bottle

I was impressed with how big this Pinot Noir is: big fruit, very powerful, with a cherry juiciness and deep flavors that made a lot of sense when I was told about the grapes from very old vines that go into it. The parcel of vines for this wine is adjacent to the Malconsorts vineyard of Vosne-Romanée, one of Burgundy’s legends.


Domaine Louis Jadot Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Referts – $660/case; $110/bottle

The first of the Holy Trinity of Chardonnays in this tasting: the wines of Chassagne, Puligny and Meursault that define classic white Burgundy. Puligny is known for an exquisitely elegant filigree of glycerine, and one feels that coming on in this wine. But it is still so young.


Domaine Duc de Magenta Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle Monopole – $660/case; $110/bottle

The Domaine Duc de Magenta wines are some of the most storied in Burgundy, and Morgeot is one of the vineyards that gives the village of Chassagne its great reputation. I found a nutty bitterness that was completely incorporated into the flavor elements of this Chardonnay and made it very intriguing. Then again, Chassagne is the first great wine I ever tasted, so I’m prejudiced!


Domaine Gagey Chambolle-Musigny “Les Drazey” – $549/case; $91.50/bottle

Dominant fruit, with a certain tanginess over and above the acidity of the vintage. Chambolle is not necessarily known for its tannins, which this Pinot has in spades. Very well-rounded already. This is beautiful wine: big, with full weight on the palate.


Domaine Gagey Beaune Premier Cru Greves le Clos Blanc – $486/case; $81/bottle

This is the Gagey Family’s house Chardonnay. We should all be so lucky! There is a lot of power to this wine, with a very faint pleasant candy feel that rounds out the palate. Lower acidity than the other wines we tasted, so a wine that should probably be drunk on the younger side.


Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot Beaune Premier Cru Boucherottes – $390/case; $65/bottle

A very straightforward wine with a bit more plumpness than some of the other Pinots in this tasting. Delicious, with flavors already melding together at this still-early stage. Delicious.


Domaine J.A. Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé Cuvée Tête de Cru Les Perrières – $360/case; $30/bottle

Everything one expects from Pouilly-Fuissé, the king of the Maconnais Chardonnay appellations. Beautiful acidity that one finds in most Maconnais wines, but with a round, lush palate that only Pouilly ever seems to achieve.


Maison Louis Jadot Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume – $312/case; $52/bottle

This wine feels a little fat, and it has surprisingly big fruit for a Chablis. Yet one remembers the adage that Chablis is too acidic in 2 out of every 3 years. Suddenly, the generosity of this vintage becomes apparent, and dreamy thoughts of steely, focused, clean, full-fruit Chablis at its finest comes racing into one’s head.


BURGUNDY VILLAGE WINES


Domaine Louis Jadot Pernand -Vergelèsses Clos de la Croix de Pierre Blanc – $282/case; $47/bottle

A medium-bodied Chardonnay that is clean, well-balanced, and supremely fresh.


Domaine Gagey Ladoix le Clou d’Orge – $282/case; $47/bottle

A beautifully light wine, very bright, without much oak treatment at all. Tart lemon on the finish, but this is sure to come down as aging wraps up.


Domaine Louis Jadot Santenay Clos de Malte – $282/case; $47/bottle

This Pinot shows great structure built on very fine tannins. Superbly well-integrated flavors, and an emerging complexity. The Clos de Malte is a leader among the working appellations of Burgundy, with a proud wine to match its evocative name.


Domaine Louis Jadot Monthélie sous Roches – $282/case; $47/bottle

Gorgeous, perfume-filled nose that sustains itself on the palate. One of my favorite wines in this tasting, and a terrific value in Pinot Noir.

Domaine Louis Jadot Côtes de Nuits Villages “Le Vaucrain” – $282/case; $47/bottle

Classic raspberry flavors such as one finds in the pinot noir used in Champagne, with a highly-complementary, yet surprising, blackberry one associates more with Bordeaux wines. Another beautiful red.


Domaine Gagey Marsannay “Le Chapitre” – $282/case; $47/bottle

An earthiness and simplicity in this lighter pinot noir, as one expects from the northernmost appellations of Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits.


Domaine Louis Jadot Santenay Clos de Malte – $276/case; $46/bottle

A very complex Chardonnay that is alive on the palate yet has beautiful oily fats that keep it pleasingly plump.


Maison Louis Jadot Saint-Romain – $270/case; $45/bottle

Creamy, with notes of vanilla from oak treatment, quite lively and tasty.


Domaine Gagey Chorey les Beaune “Les Beaumonts” – $270/case; $45/bottle

Huge perfume on the nose of this gorgeous pinot noir. The palate has very straightforward flavors, with exquisite equilibrium. The fruit is ripening quickly on this wine, and it is going to be ready to drink quite soon out of the barrel.


Domaine Gagey Bouzeron – $180/case; $30/bottle

Bouzeron is exclusive to Aligoté, the only other white grape cultivated in Burgundy. What makes Bouzeron Aligoté so good is that it uses the Aligoté doré clone instead of the Aligoté vert used in the rest of Burgundy. Aligoté vert typically produces thin, acidic wines that are bought for 5 Euros and used to wash down meals in France without necessarily giving the drinker any pleasure. The lower-yield Doré is more opulent, rounder, with more floral expression. The Gagey version we tasted here was clean, with a slight but not unpleasant bitterness, and a very long finish.


CRU BEAUJOLAIS


Château des Jacques Morgon – $156/case; $26/bottle

I love Cru Beaujolais almost as much as I despise Beaujolais Nouveau, but the Morgon from Château des Jacques stands on its own pedestal. Big, fresh, juicy, with black fruit and the granitic, wet stone taste that is mandatory in great Gamey-based Beaujolais. Oh, yeah… on a hot day in summer, you will want this at your picnic along with some runny cheese and a baguette.


Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent – $156/case; $26/bottle

The Moulin-à-Vent Cru Beaujolais tends to have a little more red fruit than the Morgons. This wine was a bit salty, along with plumminess and huge acidity. A very different Gamay than Morgon, it gives us a great understanding of the power that different soil contexts can have. It’s difficult to separate these twins; each has its qualities. I guess I like to pair them with different foods, as they should be.

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