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Louis Jadot launches Pinot Noir from Oregon

Burgundy négociant Louis Jadot has launched a wine from its first project outside France: a Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Louis Jadot’s Résonance Pinot Noir from the 2013 launch vintage

Called Résonance, the wine comes from the 2013 vintage, and is being shown for the first time to UK press and buyers at lunchtime today.

Produced in limited quantities, the wine will retail for a little over £48, and is produced by winemaker Jacques Lardière, Maison Louis Jadot’s winemaker for over 40 years, while the project is managed by Thibault Gagey, son of Pierre-Henry Gagey, the president of Louis Jadot.

Speaking to the drinks business this morning about the launch, Thibault Gagey said that Louis Jadot had decided to invest outside Burgundy to grow its business, and, as previously reported by db, bought a vineyard in Oregon in 2013.

“We have done nothing but Burgundy for 150 years and Burgundy is a small wine region so there are not so many opportunities to grow and we are entrepreneurs… we like to do new things, so we said, ‘why not go outside Burgundy and do something,’” recorded Gagey.

Although he admitted that Louis Jadot did consider a Pinot project in a number of places around the world – mentioning in particular parts of New Zealand and Australia, especially Tasmania – the house chose Oregon because it was offered a vineyard with particular appeal, and the US is a strong market for the company: Jadot’s owner is the American Koch family, who also own Jadot’s US importer Kobrand.

Gagey explains, “It was a tough choice, but we chose Oregon because it is a good place for Pinot Noir, and there was an opportunity in the region – the Résonance vineyard was proposed to us and we went there and liked the place and like the wine from it.”

Thibault Gagey
Thibault Gagey

Although the owner, a grower called Kevin Chambers, was selling the grapes from the Résonance vineyard to a number of producers, he had also produced his own wine from the plot, which is an 8 hectare vineyard within a 13-hectare site in the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA, which is located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Gagey recorded that the site is not fully planted, but because the vineyard is surrounded by evergreen trees, which the house does not want to remove (and feature on the wine’s label), the Résonance vineyard won’t be expanded.

However, since purchasing the property in 2013, Louis Jadot has grafted some Gewürztraminer over to Pinot Noir, ensuring that the entire site is given over to this one grape (although Gagey told db that he would also like to produce Chardonnay at Résonance in the future).

Furthermore, Jadot has also bought another piece of land in Oregon, having purchased a 7ha plot in the Dundee Hills AVA in 2014. Here, 3ha are currently planted, but the company may double this to 6ha in the future, according to Gagey.

This more recent purchase has been called Découverte, and the UK will see the first wine from the vineyard, which will take the name of the plot, in 2018, when Jadot will unveil the 2015 vintage with a retail price of £50-50 (although there will be a small release from the 2014 harvest, which, due to the small quantities produced, will be sold locally).

Louis Jadot was founded in Beaune by Louis-Henry Jadot in 1859, and produces wines from over 150 appellations in Burgundy – from Beaujolais Villages to Le Montrachet. It owns a little more 200ha in Burgundy, with around 80ha in Beaujolais, 17ha in Pouilly Fuissé and approximately 110ha in the Côte d’Or.

Resonance 2006
The label for Kevin Chamber’s Resonance Pinot Noir from the 2006 vintage

While the Dundee Hills Découverte Pinot Noir is located on volcanic soils, the Résonance vineyard is found on primarily Wilakenzie, an old sedimentary deposit and Yamhill, which is ancient submarine basaltic soil. The first vines at Résonance were planted in 1981, and the neighbouring vineyard is Gran Moraine, a 186-hectare estate bought by Jackson Family Wines in May 2013.

Gagey told db that an increased interest in Oregon Pinot vineyards among “big players” was pushing up the price of land in the region, but added that the cost of vineyards was still “reasonable” compared to Grand Cru Burgundy plots, which he described as “crazy”.

The Drouhin family were of course the first Burgundian winemakers to invest in Oregon, buying a 90-hectare property in the Dundee Hills in 1987. In January 2014 the family more than doubled its Oregon holdings with the acquisition of Roserock, a 113ha property in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.

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