150 years of Maison Louis Jadot – One name, one label one brand

jadot111a.jpgLouis Henry Denis Jadot founded Maison Louis Jadot in 1859. But even before then, the story of Maison Jadot had its roots in the vineyards, with the Jadot family’s purchase of the Clos des Ursules, a Beaune Premier Cru, in 1826. Pierre-Henry Gagey, the President of Maison Louis Jadot, comes from a long tradition of wine himself. His family, on both sides, has been in the wine business for 200 years. Gagey runs Jadot with a team of 70 people. He was in Delhi recently when he spoke to Sommelier India editor, Reva Singh about the House of Louis Jadot.

All the wines made under the Maison Louis Jadot label are Appellation Contrôlée or AOC wines. The vineyards of Maison Louis Jadot stretch across 154 hectares of Burgundy, from the Côte d’Or to the Mâconnais and down into Beaujolais. They own 150 ha divided into 75 ha in Cote-d’Or and 75 in the Crus de Beaujolais. Louis Jadot operates both their own vineyards and a négociant business.
1859 – 2009. This year is 150th anniversary of Maison Jadot and we have had the same philosophy from the beginning. Our wines are 100% Burgundy with only one name, one label and one brand. Time is very important in the wine business. We are not in a hurry and only with time can we build something strong. In Burgundy we like to be slow and not to know everything. Every production house has a different philosophy and a different expression of the wine. Every little decision makes a difference. That’s why our 150 years are important to us. It shows time has helped us.
2008 was quite a good vintage for us. We were saved by a wonderful September. In the summer we had a lot of rain and then came sunshine, a north wine and cold weather. The grape quality comes from the last few weeks.
Because of these conditions the grapes were concentrated and had good acidity. And because of the wind there was no humidity, so we avoided rot. The berries were small with no sugar. Like human beings, the grape has a memory and it remembers the early difficult time. Again, not the greatest vintage of the century but we are finally happy.
Great weather started on September 13, I returned from a holiday in Brittany and the first ten days were bad. On September 10, which was a Saturday, there was pouring rain and our only chance was if the rain stopped the next day and we had sunshine. And it did. It was a late vintage, it began only in October, but we were saved.
Burgundy was not so much affected by the economic slowdown this year. We are much smaller and have been a lot more reasonable although reat wines in Burgundy will be as badly affected as Bordeaux. Many investors have put their money in Bordeaux while in Burgundy you buy not as an investment, to drink the wine.
The aging potential is extremely important in Burgundy as well as Bordeaux. The complexity comes with time. We are no longer competitors and share a lot with Bordeaux. Some of the older Bordeaux and Burgundy wines have a lot in common. When the wine is young the variety of the grape is very important and distinct but when the wines have aged for, say, 50 or 60 years they come together and you can mistake them. Saint Emilion can often be taken for a Burgundy.
The Gamay grape in Beaujolais can also make a crus wine not just nouveau. Louis Jadot Beaujolais are fine wines too and capable of aging. If you are willing to take your time and be patient the wines can be superb. The basic wines you can drink young because they are an introduction to Burgundy. Young wine is simple. But for the Great Wine, try to keep them a little bit. When we pay high prices for old wines we pay for complexity, for emotion.
2006 Puligny Montrachet (Village Appellation) bottled a year ago is a very good vintage for white wine, very subtle and quite full. The wine 18 months in oak but we use no more than 20 percent new oak. So the oak does not jump at you, it is more subtle. The wine has energy, life, vibration. It has to be precise and sharp, but lively. We are not looking to make wines that are rich like a Chardonnay or a Voignier of the New World. Our wine has minerality with acidity which comes from the soil in the northern part of Burgundy and is flinty. It can age for 20 years, if you want.
I love older white wines but this is a question of taste. The English and the Americans like their whites young. In my opinion four to five years is good, especially if the wine is drunk by itself. Most importantly, trust your own taste.
2006 Gevrey Chambertin is very young for red wine but it is a vintage that is forward, more developed. It is lighter does not have the same concentration of tannins but a delightful elegance that is light and airy. There is purity in the 2006 vintage with a direct link to the soil, and the Pinot Noir grape is quite expressive. You would not mistake it for Gamay. It is the Morgon that talks here. In the 2006 Gevrey Chambertin it is the Pinot Noir but with time the grape will recede. There is spiciness in the nose but the feel in the mouth is a little tight. Although it is not ready to drink, some people like it like this.

In our wine making practice the best wine possible goes into the blends
and then 20 to 30% of the wine we declassify or replier and put in the villages appellation. We do this with all our wines. The amount we declassify depends on the vintage. In 2005 we declassified very little. But at other times when the vintage is tougher, it can go up to 30 or 40%. Most quality producers follow this practice but it depends on each one’s policy.
Our main markets are the US, UK, Canada and Japan. China is growing. The US market is 40% for all Burgundy and is the number one market. They are ready to pay for quality. In hard times instead of buying wine people say, let’s first drink what’s in our cellar first. We keep no inventory; everything we produce is sold, mostly on allocation.
In Burgundy we keep back stocks only for the pleasures of the house. Now wine drinkers are trading down buying a 30$ wine instead of 50$. So in the US the volume is the same but there is a 20 percent downturn in price.
India is going to grow step by step with the young generation who travel more to experience other cultures. The people will learn to consume a little wine and drink more at home, especially the Great Wines. Wine drunk with food is not alcohol, it is part of our culture and it is food too.

Maison Louis Jadot wines are imported by Brindco Sales Ltd. The wines cost between Rs 2000 to Rs 25,000 for the Grand Crus.

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