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Burgundy 101

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jan 21, 2008 4:00am ET

Tasting at Louis Jadot is like a lesson in Burgundy. There is an extensive range of wines, from Chablis to the Maconnais, with many serious appellations of the Côte d’Or represented in both red and white.

Best of all, you are in the hands of Jadot’s distinguished winemaker, Jacques Lardière, who, with his knowledge of the wines and their terroirs, guides you through the wines like an erudite professor of Burgundy.

I’m sure if we had more time, Jacques would have found more barrels. In the end, we tasted 60 wines, a respectable representation of the more than 100 different appellations and vineyards that Jadot bottles.

All the whites had been racked into tank and were in various stages of fining. The reds were still in barrels and all the samples were tasted from one-year barrels.

Lardière likes to retain a small portion of the malic acid for more energy and freshness, and 2006 is no exception. “In 2006, if you don’t have some malic acid the acidity is very low,” he explained, adding that the vintage is more mineral than its predecessor, 2005.

Jadot’s president Pierre Henry Gagey concurred, noting, “In 2006 there’s a minerality in the whites that’s fantastic.”

This was certainly the case with the Savigny-lès-Beaune Guettes, whose mineral character was augmented by apple and honey notes. It was concentrated and vibrant (87-90). The Pernand-Vergelesses Clos de la Croix de Pierre white, from grapes planted five years ago was ripe, fresh and creamy, with lingering pear and lemon custard flavors (87-90).

Of the village wines, the Meursault had been sulfured for bottling next week, so was not showing its best, but the Puligny-Montrachet, already fined and filtered without the addition of sulfur dioxide, was elegant, firm and linear, offering peach and apricot notes and ending in a long, hazelnut-suffused finish (89-92).

In tank, but not yet fined, the Chassagne-Montrachet Caillerets exhibited focused mineral, lemon, vanilla and spice notes and a long finish (89-92). However, the star of the Chassagne premiers crus that day was the La Romanée. From a site slightly higher in elevation than the Caillerets, it showed citrus and mineral elements, but most of all, great breed and refinement (90-93).

The three rock-star lieux-dits from Meursault were all potentially outstanding, not surprising for a vintage strong in whites. The Charmes displayed concentrated almond, honey and green herb aromas and flavors that persisted (90-93). The Perrières delivered a stony nose and mineral notes on a taut, precise frame (90-93) and the Genevrières evoked juniper, pine forest and wild herb flavors backed by a firm, compact structure. Its finish was long and resonant (91-94).

Racy and detailed describes the Puligny-Montrachet Folatières, a tense study in subtle citrus and mineral shades (91-94). The Combettes combined richness and freshness, with hazelnut accented by gingerbread and brioche notes that last and last (91-94).

Of the grands crus, I was particularly impressed by fresh, creamy, hazelnut, almond and lime flavors and the long, complex mineral-tinged finish of the Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles (94-97). Le Montrachet was also creamy, but racy, especially for its Chassagne origins, and intense from start to finish (94-97). By contrast, the Corton-Charlemagne was fragrant, subtle and nuanced, showing white flower, mineral, herbs and orchard fruit notes, all well-balanced and long (93-96).

Among the reds from barrel, the Savigny-Lès-Beaune Dominode had a terrific nose of black cherry, with good density and structure (88-91). The Beaune Clos des Ursules was classy and rich, laden with blackberry and black cherry notes and fine texture (89-92). The Volnay Clos de la Barre offered intensity and concentration, with an extra dimension to its red fruit character (90-93).

The Pommard Rugiens was more solid than the Volnay, showing cherry, iron and firm tannins (90-93). We left the Côte de Beaune in style with the Corton Pougets, an elegant expression of red cherry (90-93).

An impressive Gevrey-Chambertin exhibited rich, sweet spice, cherry and tobacco flavors with a long finish (89-92), while the Chambolle-Musigny Les Fuées was a suave, rich red, with black fruit and mineral notes (90-93). The Vosne-Romanée Suchots revealed aromas of pepper and rose, with persistent cherry and red berry flavors (90-93).

Jadot makes a fine Chapelle-Chambertin, and the 2006 is a worthy successor. It showed a core of pure cherry, elegance and concentration followed by a long finish (91-94). Coming from two sources, the Clos de la Roche was also very pure and open, with a mineral component and firm structure (92-95).

The Bonnes Mares and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze were the most backward wines on the cellar. The former displayed an intense mineral character on a broad frame (93-96); the latter concentrated fruitcake and tobacco notes (93-96).

Travis G Snyder
Salt Lake City —  January 22, 2008 1:42am ET
I have been buying 2005 red Burgundy wines since September of last year, when will wine spectator publish an extensive review of wines from that vintage. It seems premature to talk so much about 2006 when there are relatively few reviews on 2005 yet. I suppose it is of benefit to me, because good reviews can drive up prices, but it seems much time and print has been spent on the wines of the Rhone, and my favorite region, Burgundy, has been left in the cold. A current search for 2005 Cote de Beaune yields 29 listings. I think I have made at least 14 reviews for 2005, and I am just a newbie to Burgundy Pinot. I look to WS for guidance when purchasing wines, and if the wines are already sold by the time a review is posted, then I feel disappointed. Tastings for 2005 have clearly taken place, it seems time to release the hounds.
hong —  January 22, 2008 8:25am ET
When you guys go to burgundy or other regions your mission is to taste wines to report the quality etc. This is to benefit the consumer but ultimatley also the producers as people get to hear about their wines. Do you have any advice on how consumers might be able to partake in great tssting sessions if they go to burgundy. By great tasting sessions I mean other than the standard that might be presented at the chateaux. I am guessing it might be all about who you know but any advice would be welcome
Alex Bernardo
Millbrae, CA —  January 22, 2008 5:36pm ET
Jadot is somewhat of a minor miracle not just in Burgundy but in the world of wine. To make high quality wines from over 100 different sites every year is staggering and almost incomprehensible. In terms of sheer range and consistently high quality of wines in every vintage Jadot hands-down is the best producer in Burgundy.
Robert Kelly
Monte Sereno —  January 23, 2008 12:54pm ET
I echo Travis. 2005 Burgundys have been arriving for some time (and gone already) with little guidance from one of the major wine reviewers ie. Wine Spectator. While we all realize ratings and reviews are not everything, they are an important guideline to readers who cannot buy every Burgundy.
Bruce Sanderson
New York —  January 23, 2008 1:37pm ET
Travis,I have been tasting the 2005 reds over the past few months as they have arrived in the United States. Because we prefer to taste the wines in bottle for formal review, we must wait until they are shipped and samples submitted to us. We feel this is important, so that what you purchase at your retailer is the same as what I have reviewed. For this reason, I go to Burgundy twice each year to taste from barrel. My first article about the quality of the 2005 vintage was featured in July, 2006 (http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/Premium/0,1197,3360,00.html).The second article concerning the 2005s was posted in March 2007, after my trip last January/February (http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/Premium/0,1197,3678,00.html). In that article, I urged consumers to take advantage of the prearrival offers, due to the potentially strong demand for the vintage. In addition, I post blogs about my visits to describe the style of wines and some information about the winery.We will be running official reviews of the 2005 reds in upcoming issues, as well as the Insider and Tasting Highlights, as I continue to taste in bottle.
Travis G Snyder
Salt Lake City —  January 24, 2008 1:11am ET
Mr. Sanderson, I see your viewpoint, but the bottled wines I have had of late are so shell-shocked from the bottling and shipping, I don't understand how tasting them now could add any information to rating these wines. It seems I have much to understand yet about wine evolution. I just can't get my palate around the young wines of Burgundy. To me, they are just one dimensional shadows of the three dimensional experience they will become. I can't get much from the 2005's now aside from acid, tannins, a hint of fruit, and lots of austere power. They aren't very enjoyable now, but I am banking that they will be some day.
Bruce Sanderson
New York —  January 24, 2008 9:55am ET
Travis,I'm glad that you mentioned this. The biggest mistake people will make with the 2005s is opening them too soon. They are massive wines, as Burgundy goes, with loads of fruit, acidity and tannins. In the early stages, the rich fruit balanced those other components. As they close up, the fruit will be submerged by the structure. Be patient. Try the Bourgognes and regional appellations first, then eventually village and higher appellations. Some wines may open sooner than others, depending on extraction, vinification and aging.My recommendation is to enjoy 2000, 2001, 2004 and the 2006s when they are released, while waiting for 2005 (and 1999, 2002 and the best 2003s).As far as reviewing the wines now, this is also why I taste them twice in France, prior to bottling and shipping. What I have seen recently is that some have shut down, but others are still showing lovely fruit and balance. Your patience will be rewarded.

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