THE WINES OF LOUIS JADOT, limited in supply and stellar in price, offer consistent quality for those willing to invest in the traditional tastes of Burgundy. The Jadots owned choice vineyard land in the C.ote d'Or, produced wine and managed the family firm for about a century and a half before being bought out recently by Kobrand Corp., the international distributors. The cellars used by Maison Louis Jadot date back to the 15th century; some are classified as national historic monuments. Kobrand insists that the quality will be maintained and that production will not be increased.
Burgundy is a bewildering assortment of vineyards and proprietors of varying degrees of integrity. The name of the negotiant -- like Jadot -- appearing on the label is often the only guarantee of good wine. The older Jadot vintages are not available here, except in some restaurants. Even the excellent '83s are almost bought up before they arrive on these shores, and those few available are very expensive.
What follows is a more or less academic tasting, but an interesting one. The Decanter Club recently featured Jadot wines, including the '82 Puligny-Montrachet "Les Combettes," the '83 Chambertin Clos de B,eze, three vintages of Corton-Pougets ('78, '79, and '81), the '76 Nuits-St-Georges premier crus "Les Boudots," and the '78 Beaune Clos des Ursules. There wasn't a vacant chair in the place, and some were occupied by confirmed bordeaux drinkers mesmerized by pinot noir and chardonnay.
The first wine, "Les Combettes," had a toasty quality and appealing roundness. The winemaker at Jadot, whose notes were quoted by Kobrand's representative, Gerard Yvernault, found an aroma of "almonds, tea-lime blossom, and fern," which prompted some unenologic snickering.
The '81 Corton-Pougets, from an undistinguished vintage, had insubstantial body and a short finish. The red fruit flavors of classic burgundy did show through, however. (Here the winemaker found "cassis, red currants, cherries and strawberries.") The '79 Corton-Pougets had a bigger, more floral nose and better color and depth than the '81. The '78, a fine vintage, was closed at first, but the nose became lush and spicy. The still-tannic taste of pinot stayed on the palate.
The '78 Beaune Clos des Ursules also opened up after 15 minutes in the glass. The concentrated flavors matched those of the Corton-Pougets of the same vintage, but the alcohol gave it a hotter finish. Only 800 cases of this wine were produced, which gives you an idea of how limited is the supply of good burgundy.
The '76 Nuits-St-Georges "Les Boudots" was still hard and tannic -- "dumb" in wine argot -- and may never be ready to drink. The '83 Chambertin showed good potential, judging by a barrel sample, with good balance and plenty of pinot power.
The '84 vintage in Burgundy was a washout, so be leery of these wines when they appear on the market. Your next opportunity to buy a reasonably priced Jadot -- a relative notion -- will be upon release of the '85s, a good vintage for the most costly of wine.