With a grandfather whose name was Peter Bernier (rhymes with Viognier), how could I not love French wine, and from a winemaker whose name is Jacques Lardier?

I didn’t grow up in California. In fact, as I would watch cars passing by my house in Maine, on warm summer days, Donna Cadwell and I used to count them. The cars with California license plates made my heart skip a beat. I didn’t know why then, but I do know why now. Meanwhile, I was raised in a French Canadian community, with my mother’s side of the family being very French, and they had English as a second language. Being French is part of who I am, which is completely European. The French part of me loves drippy, rainy days that don’t go on for too long.

So, when I was asked the following, it was like, “Are you kidding me? Big ‘Yes’ on my end.”

Jeffrey Donegan wrote:

Dear Jo,

I hope this email finds you well. I spoke with Winemaker Jacques Lardier from Maison Louis Jadot last week for an update on the 2009 vintage. The buzz is that Burgundy is already heralding 2009 as a remarkable vintage and history is on the region’s side. Past years on the “nines” such as 1949, 1959, 1969, 1989 and 1999 have historically produced some memorable harvests.

The growing season saw more traditional weather patterns for Burgundy. The past few years have been real nail biters for growers and producers as the weather impacted the entire growing season. Jacques Lardier has been the winemaker at Louis Jadot since 1970 and has seen his share of challenging growing seasons in Burgundy, but he sees 09 as shaping up to be an outstanding vintage.

As a special behind the scenes look at the 2009 vintage we have a small quantity of barrel samples coming from the winery. We would like to invite you to experience the evolution of these great wines from barrel, to bottle, then eventually to shelf.

Would you like to taste through a set of barrel samples for possible editorial coverage on your blog? We will also follow-up the barrel sample mailing with samples of the finished wines once they are completed, so you have a chance for comparison. If you are interested please let me know your current shipping address.

And then… they arrived, in all their splendor.

For your understanding of Maison Louis Jadot, Here’s a link to all of its history dating back to 1859. The following is taken from that site, and is the winery’s principle of vinification. (I can’t write this any better than it’s already presented.)

Maison Louis Jadot’s principles of vinification balance tradition and technology, and focus on the purest expression of the “terroir,” or qualities unique to the microclimate, through the medium of the vine. With rare exception, Burgundies are single-varietal wines, produced from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir; their singularity is derived from an extraordinarily refined perception and elicitation of the subtle differences among different terroirs. It is Jadot’s fundamental conviction that the expression of each wine’s origin and typicity resides in interfering with nature as little as possible.

Red and white wines barrel samples… Oooo la la… I wrote back to Jeff:

Then, I went on to taste them, one at a time, individually. I wanted to focus and savor, and let the individual wines linger.

  • 2009 Louis Jadot Santernay Clos de Malte
    • As I pulled the cork from the bottle, sweet, ripe Chardonnay aromas wafted up from the bottle. The color is golden, it’s still coming into its own being. It took a half minute to finally settle down, and it became almost clear in the glass. From the bottom of the glass, where it settled in as golden, to the mid section showing yellow-green, to the rim of baby blue… I could wait no longer to do the nose. Swirl, sniff and enjoy the aromas of an elegant example of rich Chard. Golden delicious apples ripe at harvest, a bit of lemon and star fruit… On the palate, ripe apples, butterscotch enveloping and developing inside of my mouth. Have never had that happen before; not at the same time. The finish is exquisitely lingering. I can only wonder how this one could get any better; but like all thing voluptuous, I know there is more to come.
  • 2009 Louis Jadot Chassagne 1(er) Cru Morgeot Clos de La Chapelle Domaine Duc de Magenta
    • Nose of honeysuckle and lemon, cool weather fruit, ripe apples in the fall. Crisp memories of being in an orchard and biting into a Macintosh apple. Fresh pleasing acidity, round mouth-feel, and linger Crème brûlée and its sugar.. Very light and breezy, and definitely showing great promise.
  • 2009 Louis Jadot Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
    • Golden yellow in the glass with bright, very clear fruit. The nose was very complex, Lemon begins on the nose, and rich ripe golden delicious apples follows. This one was round and rich, buttery with a bit of spritz (remember this is a barrel sample, and it’s still very much alive and evolving). It is earthy… reminding me of the country side with lots of summer flowers in bloom… lush, after a slight drizzle. On the second sip, I got lemon pineapple and lemon grass.

All the whites were really delightful. (Still pinching myself.)

Red Wines ~ Give me a Pinot from a damp climate, and I won’t come down for days…Barrel Samples:

  • 2009 Louis Jadot Beaune 1(er) Cru Theurons
    • Beautiful garnet color of medium body, nose of lively juicy plums and dark cherries, palate of rich fruit, that’s not yet quite ripe and tannins are a bit tight (but both of these last two qualities are given to the fact of its youth). The wine has a touch of almond, with a lingering finish that makes me want to sip more and enjoy more. It was great with my hot turkey on toast post Thanksgiving.
  • 2009 Louis Jadot Chambolle Musigny 1(er) Crue Les Baudes
    • Lovely pomegranate red, aromas of crushed plums and a hint of Melba toast. The palate is delightful in its youth, tart and slightly tight tannins; but filled with mashed cherries, plum, and licorice on the palate, with a dry pomegranate finish…  It’s an amazing wine to just savor, like watching a child take his or her first step. You see what the future will be, but you know its age development and just appreciate its youthful dare.
  • 2009 Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
    • As the wine poured from the bottle to the glass, I watched the translucent garnet color rush into my stemware. It was a slow motion, gliding moment. The color of the wine was so delightful, the pouring allowed for so much transparency, maybe because I was sitting right here at my desk and just watching it, that everything was now so right. A medium-bodied color, the wine looked so rich and inviting. The nose was luscious, as I quietly throated, “Hummmm,” knowing where this was headed. And the palate… young with crisp plum flavors, tart strawberries and a hint of lavender. The finish told me that this one is still very young, and holds a lot of promise for what it will become. This is the one that I’m dying to taste at a later date. I feel that way about them all, but this one especially intrigues me for the future. It’s reminded me of watching my daughter Katie at a very young age slip through her ballet routines, and then to see her en pointe with her hair all pulled back, and her slender body slip across the stage. I saw what she had for a gift when she was very young. I marveled at her accomplishments when she peaked, as most young ballerinas do… and she still has all that grace as a young woman. This one is the ballerina of the group, because it, too, is right en pointe.

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