Louis Jadot Beaune Premier Cru Clos des Couchereaux 2019

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“The 2019 Beaune Clos des Couchereaux 1er Cru definitely has the most floral of Jadot’s Beaune Premier Crus; rose petal scents infuse the brambly red fruit, mixed with a light marine scent. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins and a keen bead of acidity. This is very elegant and shows impressive poise toward the finish. A delicious Beaune in the making. Drinking window: 2023-2036. 91-93 points

Keeping with tradition, I spent two morning sessions tasting through Louis Jadot’s whites and reds with head winemaker Frédéric Barnier. Even though there are more than 100 wines here, that figure does not represent every cuvée that Jadot produced in 2019. Why do this exercise? Well, apart from quality, you can gauge how the Côte d’Or performed as a whole and from one commune to another. You have to be mindful that some of the blending is not finished, so as Barnier pointed out, he could subsequently decide to de-select barrels of a Premier Cru into a Village Cru. Nevertheless, they are pretty good approximations. Jadot have traditionally de-stemmed all their cuvées, though Barnier mentioned that he has experimented with stems with respect to Beaune Les Cras and Santenay Maladières with different percentages in order to understand their influence depending on the vintage.

“We had a dry winter, mostly cool and January was wonderful in terms of weather,” Barnier explained as we broached the 2019s. “We did not have big reserves of water in our soils. Even bud burst was not so early with the first leaves in the beginning of April. There was a cold snap, and this led to frost, the first on 5 April. The leaves were not out, but it was humid and so the frost affected the volume more than we thought at the time. The second episode was on 14 April. It was so bright during the night because everyone was burning [straw bales]. It was cold, -2 to -3°C, but it was dry and so it was not damaging. May was better, with good temperatures so there were a few intense weeks of vegetative growth. The first weeks of June were inclement with cold and humid weather that impacted the flowering causing coulure, for example in Clos Saint-Jacques where there was a huge amount of millerandé bunches. I have never seen it so widespread for whites and reds. From mid-June to mid-September we moved to hot and dry weather, especially a canicule at end of June and end of July. But we had a few showers in August that saved the crop from becoming overripe. Water management was one of the most important factors. Véraison was early-mid July and lasted 40 days because of the lack of water and maybe this helped the quality of fruit as we had a long cycle of maturation. But during the last days just before picking, we saw an acceleration of potential alcohol in small berries with little juice, so we started picking on 11 September.

The level of alcohol is around 14.0° for the whites, which is not something we have every year, but the long process saved the freshness and acidity. The pH is classic: two to three grams of malic acid. We are used to saying one-week equals one degree of potential alcohol but in the Côte d’Or that was just three days. You had to adapt and react very quickly. The reds were easier as the cycle of the Pinot Noir was a little later than the Chardonnay and that gave us a week more. The fruit was very healthy and needed little sorting. It was a classic vinification. You just had to make sure you finished the alcoholic fermentation. You have to control it, making sure the grapes are cool when they enter the vat. Part of the malo was before Christmas, especially for the whites, with the rest over spring. We blocked part of the malo, which is important with that degree of alcohol. The whites will be bottled from next February or March. Volumes are around half of a normal crop at around 30-35hl/ha.”

One has to consider the logistical challenges facing Louis Jadot and those of similar size. How do you marshal pickers into the right vineyard at the optimal moment when you have such a scattering of vineyards and when sugar levels both expedite the picking and shorten the window in order to avoid over-ripeness? In such a comprehensive tasting as this, you can begin picking out those that were harvested at just the right time and others that maybe were not. There are too many wines to go through individually, but I will choose a few. With respect to the whites, do check out the brilliant Chevalier-Montrachet Demoiselles that surpasses the Montrachet by some margin. The strongest performing appellation was Puligny-Montrachet more than Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault, whilst I found much to admire with Jadot’s Savigny-lès-Beaune Clos des Guettes Blanc. Among the red appellations, I am drawn mostly towards a cluster of excellent wines from Gevrey-Chambertin, especially a brilliant Les Cazetiers that dares surpass Clos Saint-Jacques. It will be interesting to compare them once in bottle. Some other appellations were inconsistent, for example, Nuits Saints-Georges that never really shone like I expected. Far better is Jadot’s range in Chambolle-Musigny, where even the single vineyard Village Cru from Drazey shows great promise. At the top end, Jadot oversaw outstanding wines from Grands-Echézeaux and Musigny.”

Neal Martin, Vinous (12/20)