There’s been surge of interest in the wines of Burgundy over the last decade. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Burgundy’s finest and rarest – particularly the likes of Domaine de la Romanee Conti(DRC), Leroy and Rousseau – have become the darlings of the market and prices have reached new highs.
One of the curiosities of this surge has been that these soaring prices haven’t always been matched by exceptional vintages. Unlike Bordeaux which, as we reported on recently is potentially being killed by climate change kindness, Burgundy’s recent run of vintages has been anything but consistently stellar. Take out 2015 – a vintage that was unusually not hail-affected – and the 2016s (if you can find any from this miniscule crop) and you have a set of wines where the Burgundy buyers’ motto of ‘Producer, producer, producer’ has never been important.
2018 though was an excellent return to form which, ironically, is coming to market at a time of cooling prices. This is a classic year that is being spoken of in the same revered terms as years like 1990. Picking began early in late August which is always a source of relief for the growers, and if they chose the right time to bring the wines in – so avoiding the prevalent lack of acidity that was such an issue in the heat of other hot years like 2003 – they had grapes that could make something special.
In another Burgundian truism, it seems the ones who succeeded were those who were fastidious in their approach to cellar hygiene and attention to detail. Robert Parker has famously said of Jobard that you could eat your lunch off his cellar floor. Such meticulousness was required if the product of this hot year wasn’t to turn soupy and have the primary aromas damaged.
While we cannot speak for all producers, the wines we tasted at the recent Louis Jadot 2018 En-Primeur tasting in London showed the class this vintage offers. Jadot’s collection of growers have allowed for the production of wines that have energy, precision and weight. The wines are big, concentrated and yet supremely controlled and balanced. The reds – even at the lower end – are well-structured, rich, well-fruited and possess a blend of power and depth that really does take the breath away.
The following is our selection of the best – in terms of value and excellence – of the wines on show. From what we have tasted elsewhere from 2018, these provide a perfect barometer of what is surely going to be a much sought-after Burgundy vintage.
2018 White Burgundy
The opening flights of whites were a dramatic introduction to the excellence to come. Jadot hadn’t – as used to be their wont – bothered with showing the basic Bourgogne, wines one can only assume are delicious and worth trying – and instead launched straight in with the 1er Cru Chablis. The poise and energy of these wines was striking and the purity of fruit, wonderful delineation and sheer depth of flavour was something to behold. Picking 5 from the list on show isn’t easy; any white Burgundy lover would be happy to sip their way through a bottle of the Chablis Beauroy or their stunning Pouilly-Fuisse Les Perrieres – but here are our five must-taste wines:
Chablis Blanchot – consistently one of the best of the Chablis Grand Cru and something of an outlier geographically, Jadot’s Blanchot is oak aged, strident and superb. Very precise nose of green apples, white blossoms and citrus, the palate is an equal mix of power and delicacy. Grapefruit, citrus and apple-soaked minerals, this is a very serious wine that will be glorious in 3-5 years and will age well.
Beaune Greves –the largest of the Beaune 1er Crus at 34 hectares, Les Greves is also one of the most reliable. The vast majority of the wine made here is red – and what an exceptional red it can be – but this white, made from just a hectare of Chardonnay – is every bit as good. Powerful notes of apples, melons, citrus and vanilla, the palate is rich, ripe and tinted with highlights of warm spices.
Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes –this perfectly demonstrates Puligny’s refinement while having somewhat more power than some of the other Puligny’s on show – no surprise given Combettes abuts Meursault in the east. Piquant nose, floral and pretty. Palate is taut, lean and yet hints at a well of richness and depth that will come with time. Very steely and pure, this has exceptional promise.
Corton-Charlegmane -from nose to finish, this is a giant of a wine! Jadot are rightly regarded as one of the finest producers of this outstanding climat and their 2-hectare parcel has produced something really special in 2018. Complex nose of succulent white fruits, honey and spices which are reflected on the massive, mouth-filling palate that, for all its power, remains elegant and poised. Will be wonderful, but patience will be required.
Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles –Jadot didn’t show their Le Montrachet this year – a shame, but given the miniscule quantities and the huge price tag it makes regrettable sense. The Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles was by no means second best, however. Almost completely shut down, the elements that were on display suggest a wine of truly breath-taking complexity, energy and style. Beyond the muted nose of green fruits, nuts and blossom is a ferociously intense palate that hints at exotic fruits, spices, citrus, lanolin and mint.
2018 Red Burgundy
Rarely have I encountered young red Burgundies of such power and intensity. Even at the lower end of the scale the wines were charged, brilliantly pure and boasting complexity. The top end wines, most notably the Clos de la Roche, verged on the unfathomable at this stage and will need plenty of time to settle. Choosing five wines has been hard – the Chambertins at all levels were astonishing – but after much deliberation these are my top five. ALL Jadots 2018s will be worthy of serious consideration though.
Vosne-Romanee Les Suchots – given its sited between three Grand Crus – Romanee St Vivant, Echezeaux and Richebourg, its little wonder that Suchots enjoys such a high reputation. This was love at first sniff. Glorious nose of petals, berries and spices and with a velveteen palate that oozes black berries, strawberries, gentle spices and flashes of beetroot. So elegant, so pretty and so wonderfully complete.
Vosne-Romanee Les Chaumes –laying on the southern side of the village and on the opposite side to Les Suchots, the contrast between these two epitomises the diversity that is Burgundy. This is all about power, concentration and depth. A mighty wine with big, intense black and red berry fruit, lashings of minerals and a well-defined structure, it will need plenty of time but the rewards will be great.
Gevrey Chambertin Aux Moines – this northernmost of the great Burgundy communes is known for its powerful wines and the Aux Moines didn’t disappoint. Roses and dried black berries on the nose are followed by a voluptuous, ripe, mineral-soaked palate that has great intensity and power. Much of this wine remains hidden from view, but what is on show is hugely impressive. Give it a decade and it will be marvellous.
Corton Greves – traditionally this area gives wines that balance power with delicacy. At this stage it’s all power. A titan of a wine, the layers of red and black berries, minerals, smoke and spices are an absolute joy. When this boisterous infant calms down it will be something to behold. Tasted on three separate occasions and not once could I bring myself to spit it out!
Echezeaux – utterly marvellous. An intoxicating blend of over ripe fruits, minerals, roasted oak, violets, oriental spices and polished tannins, this is a complete knockout of a wine. Rich, almost oily, and rock hard, it has such a great future but it will need a decade before it can be sensibly approached. Worth every penny.
Burgundy 2018: A Vintage To Seek Out
There’s no doubt that the 2018 Burgundies are wines that are worth seeking out. The quality is there and there’s quantity too, unlike some other recent years like 2016. At all levels the wines will deliver, but the standards of the Premier and Grand Cru wines will be some of the best for decades and will repay extended cellaring. This is definitely a vintage to drink, keep and invest in.
Like To Know More?
If you would like to purchase any of the 2018 Louis Jadot Burgundies or any other 2018s, then please get in touch by emailing Mike Hall here and we will be happy to help.