Recently in Chicago, I attended a sit-down lecture and tasting presented by Frédéric Barnier, technical director and winemaker for Maison Louis Jadot, one of Burgundy's most esteemed houses. The topic was the newly released wines from the 2015 vintage.
2015 has received a lot of hype, as a great vintage; we surely hear the word great being used too often in the wine world (and elsewhere), yet we don't often hear that for Burgundy, as it is a bit of a razor's edge climate, as every year growers and producers hope for cooperation from Mother Nature. Is 2015 truly a great vintage for Burgundy?
Barnier, who succeeded long-time Jadot winemaker Jacques Lardiere a few years ago, addressed the topic of "greatness" as applied to the 2015 vintage in Burgundy. He commented that 2015 was "less difficult than past vintages," but also noted a lack of rainfall, which made for concentrated wines, but of course, a very small crop. The yields were 85%-90% normal for the whites, but only 30%-35% for the reds.
While it was hot and dry in June and July, August saw normal temperatures, so Barnier was quick to point out that 2015 would not be like 2003 in Burgundy. That year, the wines lacked proper acidity, which is thankfully not a problem with the 2015s.
There were 18 wines presented at this seminar - I will give tasting notes for most of them.
Chablis Premier Cru "Fourchame" - Brilliant light yellow color; classic wet stone aromas with additional notes of golden apple. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Excellent persistence, very good acidity and complexity, with beautiful varietal character. Beautiful representation of terroir and ideal varietal purity. This wine is fermented in steel tanks and wooden barrels and is matured in 30% new oak; which seems perfect for this wine. 7-10 years of life ahead of this wine. Outstanding (****1/2)
Meursault Premier Cru "Genevrieres" - Distinctive aromas of anise and golden apples. Medium-full; very good ripeness and acidity. Nicely balanced with excellent varietal character. A nicely refined example of a cru Meursault, with impressive persistence. 7-10 years. Excellent (****)
Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru "La Garenne" - Straw/light yellow; aromas of ripe Bosc pear and citrus; slightly closed nose. Medium-full, good acidity, excellent persistence and complexity; quite stylish. This vineyard is one of the highest in the appellation; due to the small crop in 2015, wine from two domaines were blended together for this cuvée. Peak in 10-12 years, perhaps longer. Excellent (****)
Batard-Montrachet - Light yellow; nutty aromas (roast almonds), lemon zest and ripe apple notes. Full-bodied with excellent concentration. Rich mid-palate, outstanding persistence, very good acidity. Powerful, yet with a fine sense of grace. Best in 12-20 years. Barnier noted that the Batard-Montrachet vineyard is situated in both the commune of Puligny-Montrachet as well as Chassagne-Montrachet; this wine is from rows of the vineyard located entirely in Puligny. Fermented in oak and then matured in barrels for 18 months. Superior (*****)
Santenay, Clos de Malte (Monopole) - Bright young garnet; very appealing aromas of pink carnation and maraschino cherry. Medium-bodied, tart acidity, very good depth of fruit and lovely balance. Nice finesse- a charming wine in which the varietal fruit is the focus. Best in 5-7 years. Very Good to Excellent (***1/2)
Beaune Premier Cru "Boucherottes" - Deep garnet (crimson); aromas of black cherry cough syrup, tar, black mint and iris. Rich mid-palate, medium-weight tannins, good acidity, earthy finish (Barnier labeled this as "slightly rustic"), very good persistence. Best in 10-12 years. This cru is very close to the border with Pommard, and is situated between "Clos de Mouches" and "Les Epenottes" on the lower portion of the southern slope of Beaune. Fermented in tanks, then matured in barrels for 12-15 months. Excellent (****)
Corton Pougets Grand Cru - Very deep garnet; rich aromas of red cherry, a subtle note of coffee, tar and dried red flowers. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Ideal ripeness, excellent persistence, good acidity. Superb expression of terroir; outstanding varietal purity. Powerful wine, but balanced, and displaying great style! Best in 15-20 years, but extremely appealing now. Jadot is one of only two producers to make a Corton Pougets; the other being Domaine Rapet. The cru is directly adjacent to the famed Corton-Charlemagne plot. The wine was fermented for 3-4 weeks in vats and then aged 18-20 months in oak barrels. Outstanding (****1/2, perhaps Superior ***** in another 5 to 7 years?)
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru "Les Boudots" - Enticing aromas of red cherry, strawberry and red poppies. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Delicious wine! Quite ripe, but not forward or jammy; rich tannins, excellent persistence, subtle wood notes. Peak in 12-15 years. This vineyard borders the Premier Cru vineyards of Vosne-Romanée, at the northern limits of Nuits-Saint-Georges. This wine was fermented in vats for 3-4 weeks and then aged for 15 months in oak barrels. Outstanding (****1/2)
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru "Clos-Saint-Jacques"- Young, deep garnet; aromas of ripe strawberry, red roses, red poppies and red cherries. Medium-full with excellent concentration. Rich mid-palate. Big tannins, but balanced; firm structure, excellent persistence. Peak in 12-20 years. Produced from 90 year-old vines. Barnier commented that Clos-Saint-Jacques is "a Premier Cru more like a Grand Cru." The wine was fermented in vats for 3-4 weeks and then matured in oak barrels for 18-20 months. Outstanding (****1/2), perhaps Superior ***** in another 7-10 years).
Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru - Lovely young garnet; ripe red cherry, cough syrup and carnation aromas. Full-bodied with excellent concentration. Rich, generous mid-palate. Rich finish with ample fruit; outstanding persistence. Beautiful structure, quite stylish! Notes of black spice and red flowers in the powerful finish, firm tannins. Superb expression of terroir and varietal purity. Beauitful wine! Peak in 15-25 years, perhaps longer. Chapelle-Chambertin is one of nine Grand Cru plots in the Gevrey-Chambertin commune; it is situated immediately underneath Clos de Beze, with Griotte to the south. Jadot owns 0.96 acres of this cru. Fermented in vats for 3-4 weeks and matured for 18-20 months in oak barrels. Superior (*****)
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru - Young, deep garnet; aromas of black cherry, tar and cough syrup. Medium-full with excellent concentration. Rich mid-palate, quite round and supple. Firm tannins, slightly meaty finish, excellent persistence. Give time to round out. Peak in 15-20 years. Jadot is second largest owner of the Clos Vougeot vineyard, with a little more than five acres. The wine was fermented for 3-4 weeks in tanks, and then matured in barrels for 18 months. Outstanding (****1/2)
The tasting concluded with two Beaujolais from Jadot; normally this would be unthinkable, but not for the 2015 Beaujolais, which are anything but simple, quaffable wines. The lack of water was especially critical in Beaujolais, resulting in powerful wines, somewhat atypical for this district. Both wines were quite rich, and your opinion of these wines would depend on how "big" you want a Beaujolais to be.
Chateau de Jacques Morgon "Cote de Py" - Deep purple, almost black color, which is quite typical of the 2015 Beaujolais. Aromas of black plum, violets and blackberry jam. Big, big tannins! Notable persistence. Far removed from most individuals's idea of Beaujolais; best in 5-7 years. Very Good (***)
Chateaus de Jacques Moulin-a-Vent "Clos de Rochegres" - Inky purple, as dark a color as I have ever seen on a Beaujolais. Blackberry, iris and violet aromas. Full-bodied, excellent persistence. Very ripe, almost lush approach. Quite powerful, although you couldn't drink much more than a glass for some time, as this is all guts and body with little charm. Peak in 7-12 years. This was aged for a short time in 100% new oak. A controversial style of Beaujolais, to say the least. Excellent (****)