|Louis Jadot winemakers Frederic Barnier (left) and Jacques Lardiere|
What that means is the head winemaker at Louis Jadot, Jacques Lardiere, would rather make a lesser wine that's true to the vintage conditions than change the house style and make a wine that might taste better. It's a remarkable philosophy -- perhaps the crux of Burgundy -- and unimaginable in California, and I invite you to visit Wine Review Online to read what else he says about it.
Lardiere brought some 2009 barrel samples with him that Louis Jadot expects to release at the end of the year. It's hard to evaluate barrel samples in France, let alone when they have been abruptly bottled and flown halfway around the globe. I won't rate them, but I'll give you an idea of what they tasted like when I tried them.
Louis Jadot Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru Clos de la Croix de Pierre 2009 ($33)
The small commune of Pernand Vergelesses has better known neighbors, as it's between Aloxe Corton and Savigny Les Beaune in northern Burgundy. The sample was toasty and lemony, with a nice mouthfeel, delivering presence without too much weight. Round and seamless. Lardiere says, "We do no battonage. It's bad with the high acidity. We prefer to keep the wine longer on the lees. Wine is better made slowly, for the harmony." Seems like pretty good value in a white Burgundy, considering what you might pay for an Aloxe Corton.
Louis Jadot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Garenne Duc du Magenta 2009 ($81)
Puligny Montrachet is one of my favorite regions in Burgundy; I think many people who like California wines would say the same. The wines tend to have a fresh fruity character with some richness, and are usually approachable without being excessive. This wine is medium-to-full bodied and slightly tropical, with some pineapple notes atop more characteristic citrus. It's pretty big in this ripe year, and out of barrel I preferred the much cheaper Pernand Vergelesses.
Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Domaine des Héritiers 2009 ($140)
At that price it ought to be delicious, and it is. The primary flavor is toasty, expensive oak, but there's also bright fruit. Imagine a piece of artisanal wheat bread toasted on an open flame and spread with a thin layer of Meyer lemon jam. It's the breakfast of kings in a bottle.
Louis Jadot Beaune Boucherottes 1er Cru 2009 ($42)
This is a hard wine to evaluate because the barrel sample I tasted didn't seem close to ready. It smelled underripe and tasted of black currant fruit with some black licorice and herbal notes.
Louis Jadot Echézeaux Grand Cru Domaine Gagey 2009 ($160)
This wine comes from a vineyard right on the other side of the wall of what might be the most overrated vineyard in Burgundy, Clos Vougeot; you'll do better to buy outside the wall than in. It's drinking well out of the barrel, with notes of dark cherry and violet, a strong earthiness and a savory, peppery finish. It was the most exciting of the red wines I tasted with Lardiere, including some that had already been released.