Up and Down the Côte d'Or in a Day

Jun 7, 2006

Day 4: June 6

There’s nothing like tasting 60 wines before lunch.

When you visit chez Louis Jadot, that’s a fraction of the wines made. And if it were left to the energetic winemaker Jacques Lardière, you would not leave without tasting everything. I was able to taste along the whole length of the Côte d’Or (and Chablis) at one visit. All wines were tasted non-blind in the cellars.

The 2005s there are in various stages of alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation and racking, making several difficult to evaluate. Among the whites, I was impressed by the warm, honeysuckle-flavored Santenay Clos de Malte, vibrant, harmonious Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanée and Le Montrachet, a grand, complex Chardonnay.

“For me, the key [for the whites] in 2005 was working with the acidity,” explained Lardière. “If we complete the malolactic, I think the wines may be a little flat.”

The reds in Jadot’s cellar were more advanced. Many had been racked after the malolactic. I found the Pernand-Vergelesses Clos de la Crox de Pierre packed with wild cherry and mineral, with a rich, sappy texture. I’m a sucker for a good Chambolle-Musigny too, and the Les Fuées exhibits black cherry and mineral flavors on a vibrant frame. But the best wines in the cellar today are the syrupy, blueberry- and blackberry-infused Musigny, spicy Echézeaux and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, a powerhouse of licorice and cassis.

Despite excellent quality in all appellations, I give the edge to the Côte de Nuits reds.

My afternoon was spent tasting whites from the Côte de Beaune. From Jadot, where more than 100 different wines are made, I stopped at Domaine Louis Carillon in Puligny-Montrachet. The range there consists of 7 wines. The quiet Jacques Carillon presented both the 2004 and 2005 vintages.

The 2005 Puligny-Montrachet Referts and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, both from vines more than 40-years old, are the stars here. They are opulent with fine structures and complexity that need time to reveal more than the citrus and peach notes on display now.

I preferred the ’04s, with their more linear profiles and intense mineral character. The Puligny-Montrachet Perrières, with its apple, citrus and fine intensity, is my kind of Chardonnay.

Vincent Girardin works from a modern facility at the edge of Meursault. From his own estate, purchased grapes and a long-term contract with Domaine Henri Clerc, he crafts a range of whites and reds, but the whites are his passion.

Girardin has gradually reduced the amount of new oak, is working more naturally in the vineyards (less herbicides and pesticides) and is less interventionist in the cellar (no bâtonnage, or lees stirring, since 2002 and no filtration for the whites).

The 2005 whites have gone through malolactic fermentation and will be racked in July. I particularly like the Puligny-Montrachet Champ Gain, creamy in texture and very long, and the Puligny-Montrachet Pucelles, a rich, powerful, peach-infused white with fine structure. The Quintessence de Corton-Charlemagne, from 70-year old vines is special, offering apple, honey, vanilla and an incredible mineral element.

France Burgundy

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