During a recent trip to the Côte d’Or I was lucky enough to be guided around the cellars of Maison Louis Jadot. Based in a residential area on the outskirts of Beaune you would be forgiven for driving straight past what appears to be a rather industrial-looking building set back from the Route de Savigny. However, when you arrive at the stylish arched entrance you start to get a feel for why the Jadot brand has such a strong identity around the world.
On arrival in to the modest yet elegant entrance hall we received a warm welcome from Export Manager Marie-Pierre Dardouillet, who explained in detail each of the Burgundy vineyard sites Jadot controls, covering an enormous 270 hectares (1300 football pitches). It was not until she opened the towering wooden doors of the red vinification hall that I started to grasp the scale of the operation hidden behind its shy façade.
The company is today run by Pierre-Henri Gagey, assisted by head winemaker Jacques Lardière who has been responsible for the company’s wines since 1970. Jacques’ philosophy is to let the wine run its own course as much as possible. Every intervention he sees as a closing of a door rather than an opening. With the reds, there is no formal pre-maceration, no control over the upper limit of temperature during fermentation (marginally warmer than usual) and no pumping over because that would accelerate the fermentation process while punching down will not. This all leads to the production of wines with impeccable quality that reflect the individual terroirs of their respective villages and sites, allied with Lardière`s supreme winemaking skills.
Entering the cooler white vinification hall, your eye is drawn to the large, pristine, stainless steel tanks at the far end. With the whites, Lardière often partially blocks the malolactic fermentation in order to retain acidity and finesse, something Marie-Pierre was keen to point out as a unique Jadot characteristic, reflected in the style of the wines.
Going down another 30 metres we arrived at the entrance to the ‘Grand Cru Cellar’ currently holding the 2014 vintage. I was shocked how few barrels laid there. I was aware of the low yield this year had produced, but I saw no more than 5 barrels of each of the grand crus. I did ask Marie-Pierre if any of the wines were still available for sale, at which she laughed and told me “we knew these were all sold well before any En Primeur release”.
At the end of the 100m long tunnel was a vast cellar holding both Premier Cru and Village wines – It is at this level that Maison Louis Jadot have the strongest presence in Burgundy, and judging by the huge number of barrels covering every square inch possible, it is easy to see why. At the back of the cellar we came to the tasting room, where Marie-Pierre took us through a brilliant tasting to highlight the distinct differences in terroir and style covering vintages from 2005-2014.
If you ever find yourself in Beaune I would highly recommend you visit this impressive estate.