40 YEARS ON:

A man with an en­dur­ing pas­sion for wine... and a unique way with words.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Wine Column -

LL the wines are rich in min­er­als from the mother rock and it is the fe­cun­da­tion of the sun and the water which cre­ates the flavours.” This was one of the more un­der­stand­able sen­tences de­liv­ered by Jacques Lardière, Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor and wine­maker at Louis Jadot at his fi­nal grand tast­ing in Lon­don last month.

It has al­ways been dif­fi­cult to keep up with Jacques. Not only does he speak very quickly in half-bro­ken English but he scat­ters his con­ver­sa­tions with al­most-words that take some think­ing about while his hands wave around, em­pha­sis­ing each point. Af­ter a while, you get car­ried away with his sheer en­thu­si­asm and tune into his way of think­ing, where the earth, the rock, the sun and the rain are all linked into pro­duc­ing great wine. The only prob­lem is that it is im­pos­si­ble to take notes that make any kind of sense.

The first time I met him, he was in his cel­lar in Beaune and I was be­ing al­lowed to taste the wines in cask. With a glass sam­pling pipette in hand, he darted from cask to cask, pour­ing a lit­tle of each wine into my glass and ex­plain­ing the dif­fer­ence in flavour be­tween one wine and the next, be­tween vine­yards and vil­lages. The taste of each wine was ac­com­pa­nied by a stream of in­for­ma­tion; the soil, the slope, the way the water runs down the hill and ex­po­sure of the vines to the sun. The de­scrip­tions of flavour hardly seemed to men­tion fruit, but en­ergy came into the con­ver­sa­tion a lot. En­ergy from the rock, the soil and the sun and the way it flows into the grape and from grape to glass. Those wines in cask shone with in­di­vid­u­al­ity and char­ac­ter, de­spite their youth.

It is this kind of knowl­edge and above all, pas­sion, which has gone into Jadot wines for 40 years. Start­ing out as an as­sis­tant oe­nol­o­gist in 1970, Jacques Lardière pro­gressed to tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing the pro­duc­tion of dozens of dif­fer­ent wines from Ch­ablis to Beau­jo­lais in­clud­ing wines from the very best vine­yards of the Cote d’Or.

Jadot is an es­tab­lished né­go­tiant, with con­trol over large swathes of Bur­gundy, in­clud­ing a high pro­por­tion of Premiers and Grands Crus. There was a time when né­go­tiant Bur­gundy was a melt­ing pot for wine, where blend­ing down to a con­sis­tent style was more im­por­tant than mak­ing wines with per­son­al­ity. But that is where Jadot has tri­umphed. Un­der Jacques’ in­di­vid­ual wine­mak­ing di­rec­tion, the iden­tity of each wine has devel­oped so that Jadot now has a port­fo­lio of dis­tinc­tive, ele­gant well-made wines. “I like to mac­er­ate the grapes for a long time at higher tem­per­a­tures to al­low the wine to ex­press its sense of place,” said Jacques, “and th­ese wines can age well.” He then went on a ver­bal ram­ble about en­ergy, molec­u­lar fix­ing and the way a wine can di­gest its own flavours and I started to won­der whether I should have paid more at­ten­tion in French lessons at school.

The Jadot vine­yards are largely or­ganic, cer­tainly no weed killers are used and many vine­yards are farmed bio­dy­nam­i­cally, where the in­flu­ence of the moon and the stars plays a part in the over­all work­ing of the vines. Whether this ac­tu­ally has any kind of ef­fect on the en­ergy, flavour or bal­ance of a wine is still open to de­bate, but I of­ten find that the flavours in bio­dy­namic wines are more, lively, vi­brant and clear.

But the proof of Jacques’ work was in the range of wines pre­sented to show his 40 years of wine­mak­ing.

With six dif­fer­ent vin­tages of Cor­ton Charle­magne Grand Cru and Beaune 1er Cru lined up in front of me I ex­plored the range of tastes and the way th­ese grand wines had aged. The Cor­ton was ex­tra­or­di­nary. 1974 was a dif­fi­cult year with poor sum­mer weather but one of the three bot­tles poured that evening was fab­u­lous with deep, waxy, glo­ri­ous nutty fruit - ele­gant and balanced. The wines changed with the vin­tage, show­ing apri­cots in the 1988, nuts and min­er­als in 1993 and hon­ey­suckle in 2008. There was an­other pal­ette of flavours in the red Beaune 1er Cru – cher­ries, straw­ber­ries, min­er­als and the earthy notes of a for­est floor, all strik­ing a chord and iden­ti­fy­ing the year.

So af­ter 40 years in the job, what will Jacques do, and per­haps more im­por­tantly, what will Jadot do?

At Jadot the wine­mak­ing suc­ces­sion is in place in the form of Fredéric Barnier who has been work­ing along­side Jacques

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