Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne 2006
The history of Aloxe-Corton is not complete without the contribution of the Emperor Charlemagne. It is known that he owned vines on the hillside above Aloxe, which, in 775, at age 33, he bequeathed to the Abbey of Saulieu in recompense for the destruction of their monastery by the Saracens. At this point in history, most of the vineyards were in red vines, and it is supposedly due to Charlemagne's wife that the first white vines were planted. In his latter years, Charlemagne's chin was graced by a luxuriant white beard. His advanced age did not dampen his appreciation of fine dining; but, invariably, when he drank, drips found their way to his beard. His wife, scandalized by the little red hairs, made such an issue of his un-regal appearance that Charlemagne finally agreed to replace the red vines with white. So the great white wine named for him was born.
The grand cru of Le Charlemagne covers 42 acres comprised of two parcels stretching from the summit down to mid-slope adjacent to Corton-Pougets on the Aloxe-Corton hillside. It is among the five vineyards of the commune in which the variegated soils, alternating between chalk and iron-rich marl, produce both Corton and Corton-Charlemagne. Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot is proprietor of an exceptional, 4.94-acre parcel of vines adjacent to Les Pougets exposed directly to the south. Purchased in 1914, this vineyard yields a Corton-Charlemagne for which Jadot is famous, considered to be the benchmark by by which Corton-Charlemagne is judged. A wine of rare textural elegance and depth, its aristocratic bouquet and luscious full-fruit complexity are completed by discreet nuances of honey, cinnamon and oak, culminating in an intense, lasting finish.
A legendary wine region setting the benchmark for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay worldwide, Burgundy is a perennial favorite of many wine lovers. While the concept of ‘terroir’ reigns supreme here—soil type, elevation and angle of each slope—this is a region firmly rooted in tradition. Because of the Napoleonic Code requiring equal distribution of property and land among all heirs, vineyard ownership in Burgundy is extremely fragmented, with some growers responsible for just one or two rows of vines. This system has led to the predominance of the "negociant"—a merchant who purchases fruit from many different growers to vinify and bottle together.
Burgundy’s cool, continental climate and Jurassic limestone soils are perfect for the production of elegant, savory and mineral-driven Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with plenty of acidity. Vintage variation is of particular importance here, as weather conditions can be variable and unpredictable. In some years spring frost and hail must be overcome.
The Côte d’Or, a long and narrow escarpment, forms the heart of the region, split into the Côte de Nuits to the north and the Côte de Beaune to the south. The former is home to many of the world’s finest Pinot Noir wines, while Chardonnay plays a much more prominent role in the latter, though outstanding red and white are produced throughout. Other key appellations include the Côte Chalonnaise, home to great value Pinot Noir and sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne. The Mâconnais produces soft and round, value-driven Chardonnay while Chablis, the northernmost region of Burgundy, is a paradise for any lover of bright, acid-driven and often age-worthy versions of the grape.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.