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At Louis Jadot, a Fine Range, a Stellar Career

Winemaker Jacques Lardière previews his 2010 Chardonnays
Photo by: Jennifer Fiedler
After more than 40 years at Louis Jadot, winemaker Jacques Lardière is handing over the reins in 2012.

Posted: Feb 6, 2012 3:20pm ET

This year, my visit to Louis Jadot took on a more poignant tone. After shepherding 42 harvests and vintages, the ineffable Jacques Lardière is passing the winemaking responsibilities to his successor, Frédéric Barnier, with the 2012 vintage.

With more than 150 appellations in its portfolio, Louis Jadot offers an excellent reference for the pulse of a vintage, from south to north.

The 2010 whites are very consistent at chez Jadot. Freshness was the determining factor in the quality of the Jadot 2010 Chardonnays I tasted, with the profile of these wines needing vibrant acidity to achieve balance with the ripe fruit. They are not concentrated, fleshy wines, yet they are well-proportioned.

Lardière and Barnier retained anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the malic acid in the whites, but it was challenging given the slim profiles of the 2010s and the barrel aging in 10 to 100 percent new oak (there were more new oak barrels than usual because of the small crop). It was therefore important not to keep too much malic acid in order to have balance in the wines.

"It was a very good surprise for the whites," said Barnier. "The key was to keep the acidity so they weren't too heavy. We saw, as they developed [in barrel], a very good balance."

The major events in 2010 were a deep freeze in December 2009, when temperatures of -4° F killed vines, latent buds and branches, which reduced the crop. Cold, wet weather during flowering further reduced the potential yield and foreshadowed an irregular ripening.

Jadot began harvest on Sept. 17 in Santenay, a little earlier than usual, due to a hailstorm that hit that commune Sept. 12.

The whites will be bottled beginning this week. Most were blended, fined and filtered, resting in stainless steel tanks. In the few cases the wines were still in barrel, it was an approximation of the finished blend. I tasted the wines non-blind.

The Savigny-les-Beaune Clos des Guettes 2010 (Domaine Gagey) offers a floral and peach nose, very Riesling-like, round, with very good cut and a mineral impression on the long finish (87-90, non-blind). From neighboring Pernand-Vergelesses comes the Clos de la Croix de Pierre (Domaine Jadot), part of the En Caradeux premier cru, where Jadot owns 15 acres, 5 of which are planted to Chardonnay at the top of the slope. It's still showing a touch of oak (this was one of the whites still in barrel), but underneath, the citrus, spice and mineral flavors are matched to an elegant frame (87-90, non-blind).

The Beaune Blanc Grèves (Domaine Gagey) needs air to reveal intense citrus blossom, lime and stone notes. Vibrant, it builds on the palate to a long quinine and mineral aftertaste (88-91, non-blind).

Though all showed outstanding potential, the best of the three big Meursault premiers crus (Charmes, Genevrières and Perrières) was the Perrières, with its distinctive smoky aromas of citrus and gravel dust. Resonant and energetic, with a linear profile, it appears to have digested its oak well, leaving a mineral essence (90-93, non-blind).

From Chassagne-Montrachet, I gave the edge to the Morgeot Duc de Magenta in 2010 over Domaine Jadot's Abbaye de Morgeot (which I preferred in the 2008 vintage) for its aromas and flavors of lime blossom and apple and balance of vibrant structure and flesh (89-92, non-blind). The Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanée (from purchased grapes; still in barrel) shows a tight, focused nose of honey, citrus and peach. It's a classy white, with a mineral undercurrent and a long, spicy finish (91-94, non-blind).

I found the Puligny premiers crus a little less exciting, lacking a bit of energy, though all were potentially outstanding. The Les Folatières (88-91) was charming and floral, with a creamy texture, while Les Pucelles revealed ripe, almost tropical fruit, apricot and pineapple, though seemed disjointed in the end (88-91, non-blind).

Five grands crus were tasted. Among my favorites was the unsettled yet racy chalk-, citrus- and pastry-flavored Corton-Charlemagne (90-93, non-blind), which went completely through malolactic conversion; the muscular, mouthcoating Bâtard-Montrachet, a mix of peach, apple and butterscotch pastry notes (91-94, non-blind); and the regal Montrachet, with its apricot and lime blossom aromas and creamy texture allied to a powerful, complex profile (92-95, non-blind).

Next up, Jadot's 2010 reds. Stay tuned.

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