Maison Louis Jadot, the Burgundy-based négociant, has purchased a vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and will produce an Oregon Pinot Noir beginning with the 2013 vintage. Jacques Lardière, who retired as Jadot’s technical director in 2012 after holding the chief winemaking position for 42 years, will be the winemaker.
The property is the 32-acre Resonance Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton subappellation. Situated on a curved hillside facing southeast, south and southwest, it's currently planted with 19 acres of Pinot Noir, planted between 1981 and 2006, and 1.5 acres of Gewürztraminer. The property has previously supplied fruit to Lemelson Vineyards, Sineann, and Big Table Farm. “We were impressed by the quality of the wines we tasted from Resonance Vineyard,” Pierre-Henry Gagey, president of Maison Louis Jadot, told Wine Spectator. Its immediate neighbor is Gran Moraine, a 460-acre property recently purchased by Jackson Family Wines.
The sellers are Kevin and Carla Chambers, who were co-owners of Oregon Vineyard Supply, an agricultural products purveyor, and Results Partners, a vineyard-management firm, for 11 years. The couple is currently purchasing an 80-acre property in the Eola-Amity Hills, which they plan to plant with Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir.
The vines are all on their original roots—an unusual opportunity for Lardière, who worked solely with grafted vines in France. While phylloxera is present in Oregon, Chambers does not believe it presents a threat to the Resonance site. “We are buffered by the grafted vineyards that surround us,” said Chambers. “With careful management, we can keep Resonance own-rooted for a long time.”
While the terms of the sale were not disclosed, Peter Bouman of Oregon Vineyard Property, who helped facilitate the sale, indicated that similar top Willamette hillside properties have sold recently for between $50,000 and $65,000 per acre.
Maison Louis Jadot is owned by the American Kopf family, which also owns the American import firm Kobrand. The Burgundy négociant produces approximately 100 to 130 separate Burgundy bottlings annually under the Louis Jadot label alone. In addition, the firm owns Domaine J.A. Ferret in Pouilly-Fuissé, Château des Jacques in Beaujolais' Morgon and Domaine du Duc de Magenta and Domaine Gagey in Burgundy. This is the company’s first venture outside of France.
Gagey admitted that he has long admired the Pinot Noirs of Domaine Drouhin Oregon—made by his friend Verónique Drouhin of Maison Joseph Drouhin, another Burgundian négociant—but claims that his own Oregon purchase was not premeditated. “Six months ago, I did not know we would be doing this. It was not planned," he said. "We liked Oregon, we liked the property, we liked Kevin Chambers, and it’s as simple as that. All the pieces in the puzzle worked together. ”
The 45 tons of Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir projected for the 2013 harvest will be vinified at Trisaetum, a boutique winery in the Willamette Valley’s Ribbon Ridge subappellation. “It’s an honor to be able to collaborate with Louis Jadot and to have a winemaker like Jacques Lardière working beside us this year,” said owner James Frey.
Asked if he is planning to build his own winemaking facility, Gagey was coy. “We are going to take our time and do things step by step, little by little,” he said. “We need to understand the terroir and culture of Oregon first.” The 2013 production is estimated to be 2,700 cases.