Today, I wanted to honor and highlight the wines from the historic Louis Jadot estate in Burgundy. Founded in 1859, this winery has consistently been among the greatest houses in all the region. For more than three daces, Jadot’s vines and wines have been guided by legendary winemaker Jacques Lardier, who recently handed over the reigns to his capable general, Frederic Barnier. This coming Monday, March 11, Frederic will be joining us for the third annual Jadot dinner here at IWM. Unfortunately, the event is sold out, but you can still experience the beauty of Jadot’s wines at home. Here are two of my recent favorites.
One of the biggest knocks against Burgundy is that it is too expensive to enjoy every day. This wine refutes that excuse. Any night of the week, this wine will stand up to any other Pinot on the merits of its downright deliciousness. Cool, thirst-quenching and a superb pairing with any number of cheeses, meats and even fish, this Rouge offers wonderful introduction to the house style and one that will pique your curiosity about Jadot’s elite level bottling.
Domaine des Heritiers Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules is one of the flagship wines of Maison Louis Jadot. Before the négociant house was founded in 1859, the Jadot family purchased the Clos des Ursules, a Beaune Premier Cru, in 1826. The vineyard is a walled in monopole and Jadot owns the entire seven-acre parcel. 2010 has shown signs of firmly planting itself among the finest “classic” Burgundy vintages with its cool style and elegant wines—unfortunately production was down 40%, so once these are gone, they are just that.
Today on Twitter, my friend Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka pointed out a blog post by Jameson Fink on one of IWM’s very favorite producers, Giacomo Contero, and one of the estate’s most thrilling wines, its Barbera.
Writing about the 2004 Barbera, Jameson said:
Hailing from Northern Italy’s storied Piedmont region, the other “B” wines from the region, Barolo and Barbaresco, get the lion’s share of the press and much larger prices. And though many wines made from the Barbera grape are the kind of wines you enjoy with gusto at the table within the first few years after they leave the winery, the Giacomo Conterno is an exception.
I bought it for around $30 probably five years back or more. It was stunning on February 22, 2014. Still had loads of fresh fruit and a nice minty note to it from time in the bottle. Not overpowering mint but just enough presence, like when judiciously added to dark chocolate, that you take notice. It also had some meaty, savory notes in it. The whole thing was like a perfectly simmered red wine stew with herbs and tender, subtle meat. But completely liquid, with no solids. And served not piping hot but rather slightly cool. Does that make any sense?
This led to a spirited exchange on Twitter about the cost of Barbera, which I storified, and which you can see in the adjacent photo, between Jameson, Dan Fredman and me. Fredman objected, “Downside of Conterno Barbera d’Alba is its $40-55 current release price range at retail. Worth it, but OUCH!” Good point, actually, but only when you consider that we’re pretty used to paying $30 for Barbera, a wine that Barolo makers have traditionally made to supplement their income and provide early drinking as their Barolo ages.
Shift your perspective of Barbera, something that makers like Giacomo Conterno, Roberto Voerzio (and another), Cascina La Barbatella and even Eraldo Viberti have done, and all of a sudden this “People’s Grape” enjoys an apotheosis, entering the upper tiers of Piemonte winemaking. (Read this post for a fuller perspective on the grape’s history and wines.)
Jameson responded by saying, “Had many Barolo not as memorable as that Barbera. Will take the latter B for a similar price when it’s stupendous.” Reflecting on my own experience, I believe that Jameson certainly has a point.
I remember being in Giacomo Conterno’s cellar with Roberto Conterno and Sergio Esposito in June 2011. I had the rare opportunity to taste several Conterno Barolos from the barrel—and they were amazing masterpieces in the making. The wine that struck me, however, was the estate’s Barbera. It drank like a cup of joy. Part of my reaction is no doubt my relative inexperience with Barolo; it’s hard for me to taste from the barrel and envision the final product. Part of it is that Barbera, made to drink young, was ready to drink very young.
But a great deal of it is that when a wine is good, it’s good, and when it’s from Giacomo Conterno, it’s excellent. Acidic, fruity, food-friendly and gleeful, Barbera has long held the position of the go-to Piemonte drink for pure pleasure. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t also be more. There’s nothing like having your expectations messed with—deliciously.
All the attention has recently been on the 2009 Brunello releases, and while there have been many incredible wines to buy, I often look to buy something lesser known and perhaps overlooked. Two wines stand out to me: a Merlot from the Chianti area and a big Cab blend from Trentino. These are wines you may have seen but probably haven’t yet enjoyed. Both are outstanding treats.
Villa Mangiacane Aleah 2005 $48.99
Toscana – Merlot
Villa Mangiacane is a gorgeous sixteenth-century Tuscan villa in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. Built by Cardinal Francesco Maria Machiavelli 300 years ago, the whole property is an incredible showcase of frescoes and all kinds of ancient little artifacts, but it wasn’t until 2000 when Glynn Cohen bought the estate and took advantage of its impressive land that the modern era of winemaking began here. The Aleah—meaning “ascender” or “exalted one,” depending who translates it—is a rich, bold and beautiful expression of Tuscan Merlot that will keep you coming back for more.
Tenuta San Leonardo San Leonardo 2006 1.5L $139
Trentino-Alto Adige – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Tenuta San Leonardo is a very old estate dating back to the ninth century and, as you might expect, the ‘Crutched Friars’ who began making wine on this land about 300 years later. Like with all great Cab Sauv blends in Italy, the famed Giacomo Tachis consulted with estate owner Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga to boldly make a wine not seen before in this area at the base of the dolomites. The result was incredible and today’s wine is a real treat out of magnum. Well balanced, juicy and delicious, the time to drink this wine is now.
This week on Inside IWM, we shared our love for grapes, the places that grow them, the people who fashion them into wine, and the stories they become. On Monday, one writer proclaimed Sangiovese to be the absolute best Italian grape of all (your opinion may vary–or not), and on Tuesday, John Camacho seconded that opinion with a historically interesting and very tasty, eight-year-old Rosso di Montalcino from Castiglion del Bosco. On Thursday, Alex Passarello suggested that Camacho was onto something with his stories of assassination and intrigue in Castiglion del Bosco’s medieval history, arguing that Millennials like a good yarn with their good wine. And on Wednesday, we dipped into Le Marche, the straightshooter of all Italian wine regions.
On Monday, IWM Expert Francesco Vigorito admitted to palate fatigue from all the Amarone, Super Tuscans, Barolo and Brunello he drinks–fortunately, he has found a balm for his pain in the glorious wines of Paolo Bea. On Thursday, Justin Kowalsky did the impossible and found a pair of seriously high quality, very affordable white Burgundies from Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet–thrilling! David Gwo also hopped aboard the white Burgundy train with a pair of very classic Chardonnays. Clearly something Burgundian was in the air–and Robin Kelley O’Connor has been smelling it; he shared one red and one white from two of his favorite producers.
Being a kid in the 90′s was awesome. My days were typically spent rolling around town on my Razor Scooter, sipping on Capri Sun, listening to Now! Volume 7, and generally being boss in every imaginable way. But alas – one must grow up and enter the real world. As time passes and my generation, known as “Millennials,” enters adulthood, we bring with us a fresh set of tastes, preferences and values. And while I’m typically wary of such all-encompassing generational monikers, it is impossible to negate the effects that Millennials have had on the world of wine.
Now, at the ripe age of 24, I’ve been lucky enough to taste a lot of amazing wines at IWM. My unique position does not make me an outlier, however; nationwide, young people are encompassing an increasingly broader share of the consumer market. Twenty-somethings in 2014 drink a lot more wine than twenty-somethings in 1994. Wine bars are popping up all over the city.
Most importantly, the Millennial wine market is less concerned with “old-guard” standbys such as traditional rating systems. Younger wine drinkers value an intriguing story over a number. Quoted in a recent Fox Business piece on Millennial wine drinkers, Melissa Saunders of Communal Brands says, “Historically, wine has been marketed to older generations and came with a huge pretense. But this generation is blowing all of that out of the water. They don’t care about the pretentiousness of a wine, they want something that is authentic and speaks to them.” I know my own experience attests to the truth of Saunders’ assertion.
One of my favorite wines comes from Movia in Brda, the land that straddles the border of Italy and Slovenia). Centuries old, the Movia estate is rare in that it combines old-world traditionalism with new-world sensibilities. Ales Kristancic, owner of Movia produces all of his wines biodynamically, meaning that not only does he grow the grapes and make the wine without intervention, he uses the movements of the moon and the stars to guide his practices. You might be inclined to raise an eyebrow at the cosmological aspects of Kristancic’s winemaking process–that is, of course, until you actually taste his wine. I recently had the pleasure of tasting the Movia Merlot 2004, which I found lively while remaining smooth and gentle. The 2004 Merlot from Movia offers a delightful expression of terroir that is drinking beautifully today.
Maybe you’re a Millenial, in which case I suggest you open a bottle of this biodynamic beauty for your friends. And maybe you’re a Gen-X or Baby Boomer, in which case I suggest the same. A great wine is a great wine, and as long as you’re over 21, you’re adult enough to enjoy it.
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