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Beaune is ‘best value’ in Burgundy

Beaune is the best value region for wine in Burgundy but has suffered from a “lack of reputation”, according to the president of Maison Louis Jadot, Pierre-Henry Gagey.

Pierre-Henry Gagey, president of Maison Louis Jadot. Credit: Colin Hampden-White

Speaking to the drinks business during a horizontal tasting of Louis Jadot’s premier cru Beaune wines in Paris, Gagey said the image of Beaune had “not been as famous” in the past 60 years.

He said: “There are many famous villages but Beaune, which is the centre of Burgundy, actually has a lack of reputation if I may say for its wines. Strangely enough in the past 50 to 60 years the image of Beaune has not been as famous as 100 years ago, so I think it’s important that we show you all the terroirs of Beaune. I’m convinced that the wines of Beaune are the very best quality for value for money in Burgundy. I’m not saying that the wines of Beaune are the best in the Côte de Nuit, but when my friends ask me what to buy I say Beaune. The quality is very good.”

Louis Jadot currently produces 17 Beaune wines, several from its 1.5 hectares in Gréves which Gagey said is regarded as “one of the best premier crus in Beaune,” alongside Bressandes.

Beaune is the largest premier cru appellation in Burgundy covering 350 hectares, which Gagey said was “probably too big” adding that it would be better to reduce its number of premier crus.

Explaining he said: “There are places where the level of premier cru is not as good as it should be, so it would be better to reduce the number of premier crus, but in France it’s not possible to go back. Because of that Beaune in terms of premier cru is a little too large. Having said that there are a lot of unknown jewels to discover.”

While Gagey’s heart clearly belongs in Burgundy, when asked which region he felt was currently making exceptional Pinot Noir Gagey firmly replied, “Oregon” – Louis Jadot’s recent acquisition of two vineyards in Oregon, the most recent just a month and a half ago, proof of his conviction in the region.

Jadot’s first purchase was announced in August 2013 and saw Jadot snap up an 32 acre vineyard in the Willamette Valley, of which 19 are planted, while its second most-recent acquisition is a 20 acre site in Oregon’s Dundee Hills AVA, of which 7 acres are planted, bringing its total land ownership in Oregon to 51 acres.

“We bought it because we had the opportunity, and Jacques [Lardière] had retired. We don’t want Jacques to retire completely. That’s why we started this project. We have two pieces of land; the first we bought a year and a half ago, the second we completed a month and a half ago,” Gagey said.

Long-time Louis Jadot winemaker Jacques Lardière, who officially retired at the end of 2012 after 42 consecutive vintages, has been tempted out of retirement to oversee the Oregon project.

Explaining his decision to expand out of Burgundy and into Oregon, Gagey said: “When you produce wines in Burgundy you have to understand that everything has been done before you. Our parents and grandparents, generations have made Burgundy what it is today. We refrain from being too creative because we could destroy the harmony that has been given to us. It’s fabulous, but once in a while we say we would like to be pioneers as well – to plant a vineyard where it’s never been done before, which is very exciting. That’s why we bought these places in Oregon. I have wanted to do it for a long time but we needed someone there that we could trust.”

Its first Oregon Pinot Noir, from the 2013 vintage, will be released in January 2016 under the name Resonance – the same name of the Willamette Valley vineyard – with just 3,000 cases expected to be made available. Gagey said that its retail price is yet to be decided.

Louis Jadot’s foray into Oregon follows acquisitions by fellow Burgundian producer Domaine Drouhin, who earlier this year doubled the size of its vineyards in Oregon with the purchase of a 279-acre property in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.

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