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11/02/2013

A Merchant's Work is Never Done

by David Thomas (Head of UK and European Sales)

At times, the job of a wine merchant is not easy. Working tirelessly to find magic new wines for customers, you can end up swilling endless glasses of uninspiring muck while smiling politely at the grower. But then, certain evenings come along and make the work of a wine merchant seem very sweet indeed...

Arriving in Lyon airport to dustings of snow and dark clouds GB, DMT, PM, JM and I picked up our silver wagon and headed up the main road north towards Louis Jadot. After a quick phone call to say that we might be a little late, the only thought was to get to the hotel, freshen up, and go out to dinner.

We sat down to dine at Couvent des Jacobins, an old church in the centre of Beaune. At one time the building held the Jadot winery but today, it has been lovingly restored to what has to be one of the truly great dining rooms of the wine world.


To start, a magnum of 2000 Taittinger Comtes and a discussion of the political problems of Western Africa (apologies but the rich, biscuity, toasty aromas of the former distracted me from the conversation and details of the latter). This bottle shows without question that magnums of Champagne really are worth the hunt: fresh and alive, with wonderful acidity and freshness, yet with the richness and maturity of Comtes. In terms of value for money, this blows almost every other champagne out of the water.
-94 pts, DT

1997 Corton Charlie
Singing and dancing from the glass, with hints of ripe melon and touches of mango. Rich and rewarding, refreshing and elegant. ‘pre-ox my arse’ – when white Burgundy is this good, chardonnay really is another creature altogether.
-95 pts, DT

1990 Beaune 1er Cru Vignes Franches 
Why do wines that remain untouched and unmoved since bottling have a little 'je ne sais quoi'? It proves provenance is everything. Just beginning to show signs of age, this showed extremely well and has years to go still, with dark berry fruits developing layers of complexity. Jacques commented that perhaps 1989 or 1991 were more ‘alive and exciting vintages’. He believed 1990 was just too easy – perfect weather, perfect grapes, perfect ferment… and therefore perfect wines, but without an edge of excitement. Still, Beaune 1er Cru has to be one of the great value areas in Burgundy – buy now before everyone else catches on!
-93 pts, DT

1952 Clos Vougeot
How rich is this little beauty – Pierre Henri commented that Vougeot requires 30+ years to be truly alive and well, and at 60 years old, this bottle was just waking up! Mocha and truffles, dark chocolate and figs, spice and game – an intriguing glass that kept changing and evolving over dinner. My final taste a full hour after first pour proved another thought wrong – namely, that ‘old Burgundy dies in glass’.  This was just beginning to live!
-96 pts, DT

And then, Pierre Henri pulled the cork on a mystery bottle lying quietly on its side in a old wicker basket. As Jacques poured the wine with real care, it looked wonderfully clear with browning edges and a very delicate and light colour; this was properly old. The palate was at first quiet and delicate - very sweet pure fruit mixed with meat, leather, mushrooms and truffles – but the with purity still ringing true. As the wine developed in the mouth, it revealed sweet figs, cherries, spice and truffles – stunningly beautiful and with great length. 1923 Musigny… sorry let me say that again… 1923 Musigny, a 90 year old wine! Lord almighty I hope I look as good when at that age…
-Off the charts, DT

Thank you Pierre Henri, thank you Jacques, and thank you Jadot.