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Jadot wines hold the taste of time and place

Dave DeSimone
| Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012

During the last 40 years or so, through dry, sunny favorable vintages and through others racked by frost, hail and dampness, Maison Louis Jadot's wines have provided important Burgundy benchmarks.

The wines embody the life's work of winemaker Jacques Lardi?e, an energetic character whose full-time tenure draws to a close at the end of 2012.

In 1970, fresh from studying grape biology, the 22-year old Lardi?e (pronounced lar-dee-air) began assisting Jadot's legendary managing director Andr?Gagey. The young, aspiring winemaker's full-throttle approach and passion for expressing terroir dovetailed with his mentor's plan for producing wines of purity and quality on a grand scale.

Upon Lardi?e's arrival, the firm's crown jewels resided in Domaine des H?itiers Louis Jadot. Significant C?e de Beaune holdings included Chevalier-Montrachet "Les Demoiselles," Corton-Charlemagne and Corton-Pougets grand cru vineyards and the premier crus Beaune "Clos des Ursules," Beaune Theurons and Beaune Clos des Couchereaux.

But with Lardi?e's winemaking capacities evolving and growing, Gagey and his son, Pierre-Henry Gagey, charted Jadot on a path of growth and change. Most significantly, in 1985, the American importer Kobrand purchased the Jadot family interest while leaving the Gageys and Lardi?e in place.

In 1986, they acquired Domaine Clair Da?'s outstanding C?e de Nuits grand crus, such as Chambertin-Clos de B?e, Bonnes Mares and Musigny, and premier crus, such as Chambolle-Musigny "Les Amoureuses." Long-term contracts for control of the Domaine du Duc de Magenta's vineyards followed and brought in prestigious sites such as Puligny-Montrachet "Clos de la Garenne" premier cru.

Today, Maison Louis Jadot controls around 154 hectares (over 380 acres) throughout Burgundy's length and breadth. As a n?ociant , the firm also buys third-party growers' grapes and unfinished wines which Jadot then ages, bottles and sells.

Throughout the growth, the winemaking team expanded under Lardi?e's inspirational leadership and clear direction. Rather than striving for flawless, homogenous "perfection," he prizes wines with personality based on "typicity." Jadot wines present each vintage's quirks and each appellation's identity with frank transparency.

As Pierre-Henry Gagey has said of Lardi?e's winemaking, you taste the terroir rather than the winemaker's ego. Fermentation with natural yeasts in open top vats and restrained aging in oak barrels highlight and support the fruit, without overwhelming it.

Brilliant wines often emerge, especially from top vineyards. As importantly, though, at all price points and levels, including the broadest levels of Bourgogne r?ionale wines, authentic aromas, flavors and textures unfold in the glass.

Now, Jadot wines from the ballyhooed 2009 vintage have arrived in Pennsylvania. Superb weather conditions and an uneventful harvest provided fully ripened, unblemished fruit in 2009. Ample opportunities arose for producing engaging, terrific wines across all appellations.

After being held back to age slightly longer in bottle, Jadot's reds fully capture marvelous fruitiness without sacrificing refreshing acidity and elegant tannins.

Better yet, Pennsylvania falls in with lowest national prices, believe or not.

Enjoy the following while they last:

2009 Louis Jadot C?e de Beaune-Villages, France (Luxury 26540; $24.99): Made primarily from vines in Chorey-l?-Beaune and Ladoix, the wine's light-ruby color offers black-cherry and light, earthy notes. Pure, precise pinot-noir red-fruit flavors with bright acidity and elegant tannins complete the delicate balance. Enjoy as a sheer pleasure to drink with hanger steak in a butter, red wine and shallot sauce. Highly recommended.

2009 Louis Jadot C?e de Nuits-Villages "Le Vaucrain," France (Luxury 26574; $27.99): Made from a single vineyard next to the famous Nuits-Saint-Georges "Clos de la Marechale" premier cru, this wine's dark-red fruit and spice aromas open to rich, pure fruit and pronounced, yet ripe and silky tannins. Try it on a chilly evening as a delicious complement to B?uf Bourguignon . Highly recommended.

Cellar Selection: 2009 Louis Jadot Beaune "Clos des Ursules" 1er Cru, France (Luxury 18648; $55.99): In 1826, the Jadot family acquired exclusive ownership of this walled subsection of the Beaune "Vignes-Franches" premier cru. As the firm's longest held vineyard, it holds a place of special affection for Gagey, Lardi?e and Jadot's winemaking team.

Never a burly offering, the 2009 wine, nevertheless, delivers elegant richness and complexity. Alluring berry and floral aromas with spicy, earthy touches open to round, ripe red-fruit flavors. Fresh acidity and velvety tannins frame a long, lush finish. Highly recommended.

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