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Louis Jadot: Return of the Gagey

It is the nervy nature of great Chardonnay from Burgundy that makes it more thrilling than the majority elsewhere. With Thibault Gagey back in Taipei for the second time this year the opportunity to taste through another raft of Jadot wines was too good an opportunity to miss. Having started with vineyards based round the town of Beaune it is of little surprise that however impressed I can be by their reds it is their whites that I find have the power to move. Not that this tasting was necessarily a fair reflection. In classic regions where vintage variation is often quite marked, the whites were better placed to demonstrate their class being from the distinctly superior vintages of 2013 and, in particular, 2012. The majority of the reds were from the high acid 2008 vintage whose saliva inducing nature was a hallmark that some wines managed to carry off better than others. These were accompanied by wines from 2007 whose overall structure was pleasing as long as there was enough fruit concentration to add flesh to the sinew rippling beneath the surface.

There are more detailed notes below but it is worth pointing out the consistently high quality of the village wines on show. Whatever the global demand for Burgundy, any justification of high prices for insipid Burgundies that flaunt their famous labels whilst being miserable little buggers once the cork is drawn simply won’t wash. Jadot like to remind everyone (and Thibault was sticking to the script) that they often declassify/sacrifice a portion of their wines that are entitled to 1er Cru status to help bolster the quality of the village wines. Here the rhetoric was proved to be true by the pleasure exhibited in the glass. Whether it was the Chambolle, Puligny or Chassagne, these wines were deliciously representative and whilst not remotely inexpensive they waved the flag for their appellations’ without necessitating the need for a loan.

 All wines listed below are from Louis Jadot and St. Finesse in Taiwan.

Oaking for village through to Grand Cru wines is more or less the same: One third new, one third one year old and one third two years old French oak barrels. 

The Prices listed include some exceptional offer prices on the 1er Crus but there are limited stocks. 

Coteaux Bourguignons, 2013, 12.5%
Grape: 80% Gamay & 20% Pinot Noir
Winemaking: Matured in steel
Note: Red cherry and red currant nose, brisk and bright with just a touch of spice. Ideal lunch time wine as it requires little cogitation. Gentle tannins leave your mouth feeling refreshed rather than assaulted.
Price: 900NT
Score: 15/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Bourgogne Rouge 2012, 12.5%
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: Matured in both oak barrels and vats
Note: Proper Burgundy Pinot nose that is red fruit driven but with a touch of clove spice. Shows the ripe fruit style of the vintage whilst also having just enough grip to fix the memory of the wine on your tongue.
Price: 1,000NT
Score: 15.5/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chambolle Musigny, 2008, 13%
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 12-15 months in oak
Note: The beginnings of some earthiness and proper Pinot perfume that adds complexity to the subtly spiced red fruit. Has the juiciness of the vintage with the bright acidity the dominant structural element. Yet the fruit is no shrinking violet lending a strong voice, that makes up for its relative lack of volume with an elegance that is classic Chambolle.
Price: 2,770NT
Score: 16/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru Les Feusselottes, 2008
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 15-18 months in oak.
Note: Delicate and perfumed nose and the palate is brisk with more sinew than the village but the pronounced acidity is a little strident for the fruit making it a less obvious pleasure than the village Jadot.
Price: 2,300NT
Score: 15.5/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru Les Sentiers, 2008
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 15-18 months in oak.
Note: Bright but with enough fruit concentration to balance. Classic Chambolle that has the prettiness associated with the AOP but with the requisite spine.
Price: 2,300NT
Score: 16+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru ‘Les Baudes’ 2008, 13.5%
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking:18-20 months in oak.
Note: Perfumed and floral with concentrated fruit and a depth that marks this out as a prime site. Deliciously virile and appetising with the ability to age gracefully for another 5-8 years.
Price: 2,580NT
Score: 16.5+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru Les Fuées, 2008
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 18-20 months in oak.
Note: Earthy and more closed than the Les Baudes but still with some subtle floral quality percolating through. On the palate this has the sinewy nature and precision that we associate with this part of Chambolle but I prefer this premier cru in warmer and less ‘classic’ vintages when its obvious refinement is supported with a little more fat.
Price: 2,580NT
Score: 16/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru Les Baudes, 2007
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 18-20 months in oak.
Note: Interesting to compare my favourite 2008 in this flight with the 2007. This has less concentration and therefore finishes a little short. Remains a decent effort however.
Price: 2,200NT
Score: 16/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru Les Fuées, 2007
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 18-20 months in oak.
Note: Almost transparent so delicate and precise is this wine. Yet lurking beneath the layer of chiffon is a toned physique that manages to persuade you to forgive the lack of density (a result of the vintage) and instead focus on the pretty.
Price: 2,090NT
Score: 16+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Clos Vougeot, Grand Cru 2011
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 18-20 months in oak.
Note: A little dumb but there is no masking the muscle that makes itself felt immediately on first sip. This feels Grand Cru-ish; dense and tannic with good (for 2011) levels of fruit concentration.
Price: 3,545NT
Score: 16+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw) 

Clos Vougeot, Grand Cru 2008
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 18-20 months in oak.
Note: Perfumed, brisk and sinewy. This amount of structure requires time…the only caveat being whether the acid will always sit a little above the fruit rather than knitting harmoniously together. Time will tell.
Price: 3,795NT
Score: 16+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Clos Vougeot, Grand Cru 2001
Grape: Pinot Noir
Winemaking: 18-20 months in oak.
Note: Lovely nose showing some of the leafy, spiced complexity of mature Pinot. The tannins retain some of Vougeot’s chewiness and there is a lack of fruit concentration that may come to haunt this as it ages further. Still good but is it Grand Cru good?
Price: 4,260NT
Score: 16+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Whites

Coteaux Bourguignons, 2013, 12.5%
Grape: 55% Chardonnay, 45% Aligote
Winemaking: Fermented and matured in steel.
Note: Crisp and whistle like in its cleanliness. A simple but satisfying wine with which to wet your appetite for the region.
Price: 1,030NT
Score: 14.5/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2013, 13%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: Eight months ageing in both wood and steel
Note: Simple but with good levels of intensity and concentration that lifts this above more insipid and gutless examples from this basic Burgundy AOP. Good value.
Price: 1,000NT
Score: 15.5/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Pouilly Fuisse 2013, 13%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: Both vat and barrel
Note: Ripe apple & citrus sits alongside something a little more savoury. There is a richness that betrays its provenance as being from the best part of Macon whilst retaining enough acid giving freshness to suggest this will continue to age for up to another five years.
Price: 1,620NT
Score: 16/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Puligny Montrachet, 2013, 13%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: 12-15 months in barrel
Note: A sudden jump in aromatic presence and complexity with a mealy, nutty character accompanying the toasty oak, citrus and physalis style fruit. Firm but not oppressively so, this again shows the quality to be had from Jadot at village level.
Price: 2,825NT
Score: 16.5/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chassagne-Montrachet, 2013, 135
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: 18 months in oak
Note: More closed and will benefit from another year or two before broaching. Dense, rich and with good length, this Chassagne amply illustrates its pedigree whilst not having quite the same drive/precision of the village Puligny. This though again is an excellent example.
Price: 2,870NT
Score: 16.5/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru La Garenne, 2012, 13.5% (High altitude over 300m)
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: 15-18 months in oak
Note: Mealy, toasty and tangerine like. Brilliant acidity gives the wine great line and poise on the palate. A long finish completes the picture of a fine wine fit for a further decade in the cellar…if you can wait.
Price: 2,030NT
Score: 17.5/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Les Folatières, 2012, 13.5%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: 12-15 months in oak
Note: Another excellent lesson in Puligny precision. This Folatières has the struck match character, the chiselled structure and tongue tingling acidity that makes Puligny so popular and unfortunately expensive. Delicious.
Price: 2,400NT
Score: 17.5+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot, 2012, 13.5%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking:12-15 months in oak
Note: Slightly riper style after the precision of the two Puligny 1er Crus but the little extra fat on show here is supported by a grapefruit style pithiness that helps balance the extra girth. Very good.
Price: 2,300NT
Score: 17/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Mersault, 1er Cru Les Genevrières, 2012, 13.5%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: 15-18 months in oak
Note: Dense and delicious with a complex interplay between citrus (grapefruit), oak, nut, power and precision. Impressive stuff.
Price: 2,560NT
Score: 18/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, 2012, 13.5%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking:18 months in barrel
Note: Smoky and powerful, creamy, full bodied chardonnay but with that grapefruit finish that provides freshness. Whilst being a long way from disappointing this clearly needs time to morph from its somewhat gauche teenage temperament to a more considered young adult. Try again in five years.
Price: Price on request
Score: 17.5+/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

Montrachet, Grand Cru, 2009, 13.5%
Grape: Chardonnay
Winemaking: 18-20 months in oak
Note: Mealy, rich, nutty and mushroom like aromatics are accompanied by an apricot skin like perfume that suggests ones nose is not in the company of everyday Chardonnay. This is not an easy wine to appreciate with plenty of restrained power growling beneath a serene exterior but as yet it is not in the mood to give too much away. Give it another ten years and it may begin to repay the ransom that you will have paid for ownership.
Price: 13,300NT
Score:? If you drink it now then 16/20. If you wait a decade perhaps 18/20
Available from: St. Finesse (finessewines.com.tw)

D93 The return of Gagey bottles

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When Less is More

When speaking with many wine producers serious about their trade, the majority will be quick to tell you that the real work, the area where quality is ultimately derived, is in the vineyard.

As a believer in the influence of site and thus of the notion of ‘somewhereness’ being reflected in the glass, this is a view that I am generally in agreement with but with some important caveats. If it is true that ‘you can’t polish a turd’ (I have never tried but the assertion appears reasonable) then the quality of the fruit entering the winery is of course the determining factor but it would be disingenuous to overlook the influence of the wine-maker. Choices about de-stemming, crushing, maceration times, yeast use, pressing, fermentation temperatures, fermentation vessels, extraction methods, maturation times, use of oak, Sulphur dioxide additions, the promotion or blocking of the malo-lactic conversion, use of fining agents, whether to filter and what to close the bottle in and with, will significantly affect the style and quality. Winemaker’s are more influential than they would have you believe.
The irrelevance of discussing (in most cases) the merits of one process vs. another should not be underestimated as it really SHOULD depend on the style, price and intended audience of the wine being made. For example the use of small oak barrels can work brilliantly with grape varieties such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon as in many regions of the world their innate structure is further enhanced (or ameliorated) by their use. Conversely using the same barrels for the production of Beaujolais Nouveau would be nonsensical as time, style and the price-point commanded by the wine does not warrant such extravagance.

The two wines below have been chosen as they reflect the decisions taken by the winemaker very clearly. The first wine is unfiltered and the second is made without recourse to oak maturation – alternative options are available from both producers.

Louis Jadot, Beaujolais Villages Primeur 2014, Unfiltered
Grape:
Gamay
Wine-making: Inert vessels and unfiltered
Note: Ripe red fruits, very pure and fresh but with a little more weight, colour and grip than the unfiltered version, which is also available. This proves (if you were a sceptic) that filtration does affect the style of the wine significantly. On blind tasting I preferred this version but some the brighter character of the filtered wine.
Price: 888NT
Score:
15/20
Available from: Finesse

Duemani, CiFRA, Costa Toscana IGT, 14%, Biodynamic
Grape:
Cabernet Franc
Wine-making: Fermented and aged in cement vats
Note: Pure, fresh and sprightly. The tannins are perhaps the most interesting aspect as they have a slight rusticity about them, perhaps a result of the lack of exposure to oxygen through the maturation process (unlike wood, cement cannot breathe). A wine I could happily drink everyday and I can give no higher praise than that. If you would like the oaked version ( called ‘Duemani’ which is also delicious) made with fruit from their best terroir you will pay four times the amount.
Price: Approximately $25 globally.
Score: 17/20
Available from: Not currently available in Taiwan

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