For such a landmark event, Louis Jadot’s Resonance, their first wine made outside France, Jacques Lardiere, Jadot’s much-respected head winemaker in Burgundy since the 1970s was coaxed out of retirement. Geoffrey Dean went to sample and give his buying recommendations.
Louis Jadot’s Résonance is their first wine to be made outside France and is a quality Pinot Noir from Oregon
Louis Jadot’s Résonance, the first wine made by Jadot outside France, their Oregon Pinot Noir from the Résonance Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, showed outstandingly well at a pre-release tasting in London in early April. Priced at £30 per bottle in-bond, it represents value when compared against many premier crus from Burgundy, whose quality level it comfortably mirrors. More on the wine later, but first a little about Oregon and why the Burgundy negociant house invested there.
In 2008, Jadot made a decision to buy a vineyard in the New World. Australia, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa were all considered, but after a five-year search, a 32-acre site in Oregon’s Willamette Valley was identified and bought from Kevin Chambers. Nineteen acres of Pinot Noir (as well as one and a half of Gewurztraminer) had originally been planted in 1981, yielding some wonderful fruit that was sought after by many of the top producers in the region. “That Pinot Noir was really special,” Peter Rosback of the Sineann Winery, who used the grapes for his wine, said of the Résonance fruit.
Thibault Gagey, deputy general manager of Jadot, explained the decision to buy. “The quality of the wines made by some different winemakers from this site, the quality of the property and the feel of the place were just right,” he told The Buyer. “We felt we had a sense of place.” Significantly, the French liked the fact the vines were unirrigated and on their own rootstock, not grafted onto American rootstock (like 99%+ of the world’s vines, to resist phylloxera).
Jadot were not, of course, the first Gallic investors in Oregon, where vineyard land sells for around a sixth of the price of Napa, and does not have the same drought problem. Robert Drouhin bought 225 acres in the Dundee Hills in 1987. Jadot is understood to have paid a record per-acre price for the region – between US$45-60,000 per acre (the amount being undisclosed). Jacques Lardiere, Jadot’s much-respected head winemaker in Burgundy since the 1970s, was persuaded out of retirement to oversee the Résonance project.
Demand for Oregon’s wines has been showing strong consumer growth, notably in the UK. The high quality of its Pinot Noir, as well as its white wines made with Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, have appealed to drinkers attracted by prices that are more competitive than many Californian counterparts. The consensus in the trade at the tasting was that Résonance is going to be generally a hand-sell to connoisseurs by independent merchants, with interest in the on-trade being centred on top-end restaurants with a varied wine-list.
Résonance 2013 Pinot Noir tasting note:
Sumptuous red fruit with mineral notes; medium body; vibrant acidity; overt but well-integrated tannins with silky texture; notable intensity of flavour and long finish; elegant, multi-layered wine that is complex; approachable enough now but needs more time to be seen at its best; structure will allow it to keep for 10-15 years, maybe longer if cellared well.
What we learned:
- Impressive first Oregon vintage by Jacques Lardiere, Jadot’s leading winemaker for four decades
- Fairly-priced wine with potential in both on and off-trade.
- Further evidence that Oregon is at forefront of New World Pinot Noir production.