November 4, 2021|In Winery Spotlight

Maison Louis Jadot: An All-Time Classic

Thirteen awards for Winery of the Year in the past 25 years and Spirits 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame

In a moment of Covid-lockdown-induced craziness, our fearless leader of all things vinous, Puneet Dhall, has lyrically rolled out rugby analogies to compare our latest stallion in the D&N stable, iconic French winery Maison Louis Jadot, to NZ’s rugby legends of the past. “As iconic as Jonah Lomu or Sir Colin Meads” he extolls excitedly!

Perhaps he has something there… Rugby Union has always been known as a game for all shapes and sizes. Uniquely, each position requires a different set of physical and technical attributes, and it is this diversity which makes the game so accessible to all. And that there’s reliable, unflashy but always dependable rugby legends like Brad Thorn or Kieran Read, who are perfect examples of who you’d always love to have in your team because they just get on with it and do the business. They may not be top-of-mind, but then they were always doing the often-unseen work in the engine room.

Maison Louis Jadot could be seen as one of the Kieran Reads of the French wine business. Solid and dependable, with the ability to surprise but usually quite happy with a “no bugles, no drums” approach to the art of producing fine wine. Time and time again reliably carrying the ball over the line with wines that over-deliver across the board – these are definitely great utility players! But not to be forgotten, Louis Jadot has the numerous Dan Carter and Richie McCaw wines to show off the try-scoring award-winning side to their wine team.


Maison Louis Jadot – Top 100 Wineries for 2012 and 2014 – Wine & Spirits Magazine

The History of Louis Jadot:

Maison Louis Jadot was founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot. The first of his family arrived in Beaune from Belgium in 1794 and soon began purchasing Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. With grape growing a part of his heritage, Louis Henry set about gaining experience first in the cellars, in the evaluation of wines, and then in the vineyards, in the study of viticulture.

In 1826 they acquired their famous Clos des Ursules. As Louis Henry travelled, he acquired a faithful clientele, and in 1859 purchased the respected négociant firm of Lemaire-Fouleux and gave the firm his name. After his death, his son, Louis Baptiste Jadot, enthusiastically carried on the work his father had begun. He expanded his export markets as well as his clientele in France, reinvesting his profits in the acquisition of vineyards in some of the finest and most famous Grands Crus and Premiers Crus of the Côte d’Or, Burgundy.

In 1939, Louis Baptiste Jadot died and left control of the firm to his eldest son, Louis Auguste Jadot, who had assisted in the direction of the business under his father since 1931. He opened and greatly developed the new export market of the United States, as well as those of Great Britain, Holland, South America, and New Zealand.

In 1954, André Gagey joined Maison Louis Jadot as assistant to Louis Auguste Jadot. When Louis Auguste died in 1962, survived only by his wife, André Gagey was appointed managing director of the firm, with full responsibility for its operations, under Mme. Jadot’s ownership and direction. For nearly three decades as managing director, Gagey was responsible for the final decisions over selection and purchase of all grapes and wines bottled under the Jadot label, as well as the care and maintenance of the vineyards within the Jadot estate.

In 1970, aware that Maison Louis Jadot’s future growth lay in its increasing role as owner-producer, Gagey engaged Jacques Lardière, a brilliant young oenologist, as his assistant and eventual technical director. Lardière is today acknowledged as one of Burgundy’s finest winemakers, an artist with the reins of nature in one hand and those of technology in the other. By 1984, André Gagey’s son, Pierre-Henry Gagey, joined the firm with a strong background in business administration and management and an inherited knowledge of wines. In February of 1985, the négociant firm of Maison Louis Jadot was purchased by the owners of Kobrand Corporation, the sole U.S. importer of Jadot Burgundies since 1945. Then in 1991, Pierre-Henry Gagey assumed the position of president. After working side-by-side with legendary winemaker Jacques Lardière for three years, Frédéric Barnier was named Technical Director in 2013; Jacques continues as advisor and works on special projects.

The Terroir Takeover:

“Our soul is in the vineyard.” – Pierre-Henry Gagey, President Maison Louis Jadot

Perhaps it’s unrecognised by many that Maison Louis Jadot, is one of Burgundy’s most venerable négociants, and it is also one of the region’s major growers. Maison Jadot now owns 528 acres of vineyards, including 280 acres of Burgundy’s Cote d’Or’s most prestigious Premier and Grand Cru plots. Further holdings sweep through Chablis to the Macon and into Beaujolais. Due to the understated presence yet high-quality wines of Louis Jadot they have a well-deserved reputation around the world with sommeliers, restaurateurs, and wine lovers alike.

So how did the transformation from négociant to grower occur? Frédéric Barnier, points out that most négociants started as growers because, as entrepreneurs, they realised they needed more than one plot. The grower side of the Jadot business, however, has exploded over the last 35 years with a series of purchases, starting in 1985 with what was likely the most significant transfer of prized vineyards in modern Burgundy history – the acquisition of Clair-Daü.

Right from the beginning, Louis Jadot paid attention to the importance of each appellation, from Grand Cru to regional wines. Burgundy terroir is particularly diverse – a mosaic of areas, each of which has its own individual character that deserves respect, and the challenge for Louis Jadot was to allow the wines to express these subtle differences and convey the true spirit of Burgundy.

With the parcels Jadot acquired, Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Chapelle Chambertin, Bonne Mares, Musigny, and Clos Vougeot, the Clair-Daü purchase transformed them from a Côte de Beaune domaine to a major grower spanning the entire Côte d’Or.

Also included in the sale were a host of Premier Cru parcels, including a piece of Les Amoureuses in Chambolle-Musigny, and in Gevrey-Chambertin, a section of Clos St. Jacques. Barnier lights up when describing the significance of the purchase: “It was a key acquisition—a great opportunity.”

In addition to Jadot’s purchases of Maison Champy (1989) and Domaine Prieur-Brunet (2017), they acquired portions of the vineyards of Château de Chorey lès Beaune (2012), and managed to pick up parcels in Echézeaux, Meursault (Perrières and Narvaux) and other locations.

Jadot scored more acquisition coups when they purchased a leading estate in Moulin-à-Vent, Château des Jacques in 1996, and a similar jewel in Pouilly-Fuissé, Domaine J. A. Ferret (2008).

Today, with increased prestige – and prices – of wines from the lieux-dits of Beaujolais and the approval of Premier Cru vineyards in Pouilly-Fuissé, it is clear just how perceptive those purchases were. These vineyards, combined with the talents of Jacques Lardière and now, Frédéric Barnier, put Maison Louis Jadot squarely in the ranks of Burgundy’s great growers.

Gagey points out that owning vineyards assures a steady supply of top grapes. He continues; “you also control the farming, the harvest, and the yield, all factors contributing to quality.” Gagey estimates that 80% of Jadot’s Premier and Grand cru wines come from their vineyards, noting, “our soul is in the vineyard.”

Winemaking Philosophy:

“The genius behind Jadot is winemaker Jacques Lardière, with his profound and holistic understanding of the soul behind Pinot Noir. The range is extensive, the quality impressive…. the results are stylish, terroir-specific, and long lasting.” – Decanter Magazine

Without fanfare, much of Jadot’s vineyards have been farmed organically for years. Just recently, Jadot began the obligatory three-year transition period after which all its Côte d’Or vineyards will be certified organic.

Barnier insists that the primary motive was maintaining the land and employees’ health. Mixing philosophy and practicality, Barnier says “This is the way to live for tomorrow. Of course, if we make better wine, that’s good, but there are many factors in making better wine.”

Barnier’s winemaking philosophy remains minimally interventional, like Lardiere his predecessor’s. With the changes in the vineyards and winery, the wines are more precise and focused. They still are made to evolve with bottle age. Even village and regional wines benefit from bottle age while their Premier and Grand Crus benefit from at least a decade of careful storage.

The opening of a state-of-the-art winery in Beaune in 1996 and the addition of a section dedicated to white wines in 2009, marked new phases for Jadot. The functional but architecturally beautiful, circular winery boasts varying-sized fermenting vats that reflect the size of vineyards, allowing more precise vinification.

Also, in the 1990s, Jadot and Canadell, a top French timber company, established Cadus to make wine barrels, assuring them of the oak’s provenance and controlling the whole process, from drying the staves to toasting the barrels.

Innovative Partnerships with Growers:

In addition to its practice of farming domaine fruit organically and sustainably, Jadot structures its supply agreements for its non-domaine wines as collaborative partnerships between house and grower oriented solely toward quality. Jadot makes its standards clear to its growers and lends advice when necessary. No binding contracts exist; neither is under obligation to transact with the other, for reasons of quality on Jadot’s part or for reasons of price on the growers. Yet Maison Louis Jadot’s policy, if costly, of buying grapes at the price of finished wine, provides the grower a financial advantage with less effort, and ensures Jadot a degree of continuity of supply as well as control over the fruit at the very earliest stage of its transformation into wine. To further elevate the quality, Jadot practices réplis, or ‘declassifying’ some wines of higher appellations, which are added to the final blend. Now that’s a win-win for all particularly for us, the end consumers. ☺

“Among the many recognizable Burgundy labels, few are as reliable, consistent and outstanding as Maison Louis Jadot.” – John Szabo MS, Wine Access

The Label of Distinction:

All wines of Maison Louis Jadot have the same distinctive label – with the image of the head of Bacchus (Bacchus is the Roman god of wine in ancient mythology), a decorative frieze and a special shade of yellow, which makes them easily recognizable. These labels are a sign of commitment to quality, regardless of whether it is simple or grand Burgundy Grand Cru.

Undoubtedly, Louis Jadot is one of the most consistent growers and négociant houses in Burgundy. It has managed to straddle both the entry-level and fine wine market, while retaining respect in both.

At the lower end of the market, they offer tremendous consistency at a price-point rarely found in Burgundy. At the top end, with their Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites, their wines sit comfortably alongside other top producers of these revered sites.

Drinkability is something that Maison Jadot also delivers reliably. And recent vintages have shown that while so many wines have immediate appeal, the best are also capable of delivering in the cellar. Now there’s no excuse not to stock up with a range of exquisite everyday Jadot wines and to stash away some beauties in your cellar to savour in the future. Salut!

Some Maison Louis Jadot Gems from Dhall & Nash:

2015 Maison Louis Jadot Côte de Beaune-Villages
2017 Maison Louis Jadot Saint Aubin Blanc
2017 Maison Louis Jadot Vosne Romanée
2019 Maison Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir
2019 Maison Louis Jadot Montagny Blanc Premier Cru Les Chaniots
2020 Maison Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages Combe Aux Jacques
2020 Maison Louis Jadot Bourgogne Aligoté
2020 Maison Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay
2020 Maison Louis Jadot Mâcon Villages
2020 Maison Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuissé

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