If I were forced to drink only one inexpensive white wine all year, I’d choose Louis Jadot Macon-Villages Chardonnay.
This wine from Burgundy is so clean and crisp that it almost seems like it was produced from an entirely different grape variety than the one used to make the weighty, oaked California Chardonnays, those wines with such rich vanilla and butter flavors that they are best drunk in cold weather.
This un-oaked French Chardonnay is an all-season wine, one well-suited for either sitting around the wood stove on a chilly night or relaxing on the porch on a warm summer evening.
It also is an excellent wine to serve with seasonal fare — light poultry or shellfish soups and chowders, roasted or grilled chicken and fish — or with a main course salad during the warmer months.
Maison Louis Jadot is one of the most respected wineries in Burgundy, and unlike some other companies, Louis Jadot doesn’t distance itself from its less expensive lines by rebranding them. It’s a company that proudly stands by its full stable of wines from the inexpensive to the grand cru that cost hundreds of dollars, according to an article on the website Wine-Searcher.com.
No matter what they cost, all Louis Jadot wines have the same easily recognizable label with the drawing of the head of Bacchus, a decorative frieze border and a tannish yellow color.
The grapes used to produce this Louis Jadot Chardonnay are grown in the Macon-Villages region, an area made up of different communities of the Macon district in southern Burgundy. The designation connotes a step-up in quality from just Macon, according to Jancis Robinson in The Oxford Companion to Wine.
Macon-Villages, where the temperatures are moderate and the soils have a high percentage of chalk and limestone, is noted for producing excellent, dry white wines from Chardonnay grapes.
For most of its nearly 160-year history, Louis Jadot was owned and run by the Jadot family. Although that’s now not the case, its operation still has a familial feel because of the principle of quality-first set up by the Jadot family, still the ultimate guiding goal of the firm.
And since the passing of the Jadots, the succession of ownership and management has been in the hands of generations of two families with links to the Jadots.
Louis Henry Denis Jadot founded Maison Louis Jadot as a negociant (wine merchant) house in 1859, but he quickly began acquiring some of Burgundy’s premier vineyards. His son and grandson, both also named Louis, expanded the company’s holdings and its marketing over the decades. After World War II, Louis Auguste Jadot’s export sales got a big push into the U.S. and Great Britain with the help of importer Rudy Kopf, the founder of the New York-based Kobrand Corp., the company’s website says.
After Louis Auguste’s premature death in 1962, his assistant, Andre Gagey, took over the management of the Jadot family-owned winery. He hired Jacques Lardiere, one of Europe’s most renowned winemakers who remained with the company for more than 40 years. Gagey also hired his son Pierre-Henry Gagey in 1984. He succeeded his father and still runs Maison Louis Jadot, which last year produced 850,000 cases of wine from its 582 acres of Burgundy vineyards.
In order to ensure the future of the firm, Louis Auguste Jadot’s widow sold the company in 1985 to the three daughters of Kopf, the late importer. Their Kobrand Corp. still owns Maison Louis Jadot.
Eight years ago, Frederic Barnier joined the company and worked closely with winemaker Jacques Lardiere before he retired a few years ago. At 39, Barnier is considered one of France’s top winemakers, and he continues the Jadot philosophy of no compromise on quality.
There is no Jadot style of wine, Barnier said in an article on Wine-Searcher.
“We try and remain faithful to all the wines and the specific terroir they originate from,” he said. “Each of these climates has their own personality that changes differently according to the vintage. We try not to shape them with a specific style, but instead to unlock their character.”
One of the characteristics of Jadot wines is the lack of oak-barrel aging. There is no oak used in the making of the Macon-Village Chardonnay, which is vinified in stainless steel tanks.
As a result, the wine has floral, apple and citrus aromas and flavors, a classic expression of the area where the grapes are grown, Barnier said in the tasting notes.
This is a very good wine that’s widely available, and often on sale. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll discover a wine that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Suggestions of wines in the $10 range are always appreciated. Warren Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.