Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Burghound Seminar "A Study in Terroir" at La Paulee 2010 in San Francisco - Part 2: Maison Louis Jadot

...continued from Part 1.2.

After Veronique Drouhin concluded her trio of 2006 whites, Jacques Lardière, the Technical Director at Maison Louis Jadot briskly took over. The 3 wines he had to present were Beaune 1er Cru "Clos des Ursules" 2002, Corton Pugets 2002, and Charmes-Chambertin 2002. In stark contrast to the even-spoken well-paced Veronique, Jacques was near incomprehensible - with heavy French accent, words shooting out as if from a machine gun, I saw a prototypical mad scientist, passionate about Burgundy, the terroir, and his wines, taking himself (rather than the audience) on a journey that was more amusing (thanks to his presentation style) than informative (since it was hard to follow). I caught something about "grand cru being aristocratic vin, washing over my every organ". Jacques went on and on, forgetting that we had wines in front of us that he should really be talking about. But finally someone (Allen?) reminded him - and so we came to "Clos des Ursules".

2002 was a good vintage in Burgundy - not a blockbuster for the reds like a 1990 or 2005, but one that produced many classical cellar-worthy wines nonetheless. In 2002, explained Jacques, most of France, particularly Rhone and Bordeaux had a terrible year, as rainy weather decimated the harvest everywhere, stopping short of Burgundy. "This is proof that God enjoys Burgundy!", proclaimed Jacques Lardiere with a smile. So the choice of all 3 wines from 2002 made sense. Now at 8 years of age, 1er crus should be starting to approach their drinking window. Coming from a seven-acre vineyard that is a Jadot's prided monopoly in Beaune, "Clos des Ursules" was a charmer. My notes say: "very pleasant, fragrant aroma of raspberry, hibiscus, and cured meat, really tasty, great acid, dense fruit, still tannic, tart, very stimulating energizing acidity. Tasty & good". The two grand crus that followed - Corton Pougets (curiously, the same soil that produces the white Corton Charlemagne) and Charmes-Chambertin - were less aromatic, less refreshing (sweeter), and altogether less interesting at this stage than the first wine, thus reminding me that the grand cru stature is not necessarily a reflection of one's enjoyment of wine.

Allen Meadows was an excellent host, keeping Jacques more or less on track and on time, and I was happy to get an opportunity to finally meet Mr. Burghound in person. All in all, though neither Joseph Drouhin nor Louis Jadot carry the stratospheric cult status associated with certain top Burgundy houses (DRC, Leroy, Leflaive...), they undoubtedly have grand wines of great charm and elegance that don't hit your pocket-book like a Sports Illustrated super-model. And even though one has to kiss many frogs before finding the princess, both "Sécher" (Drouhin) and "Clos des Ursules" (Jadot) proved on that sunny Saturday morning in March - the princesses are out there, so keep on searching!

...To be continued here.

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