Jadot: Corton-Charlemagne 1973-1996

By Antonio Galloni

Jadot 1996 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      92

Jadot 1994 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      96

Jadot 1992 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      95

Jadot 1991 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      95

Jadot 1990 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      92

Jadot 1989 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      95

Jadot 1988 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      92

Jadot 1986 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      92

Jadot 1984 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      90

Jadot 1982 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      93

Jadot 1978 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      93

Jadot 1976 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      96

Jadot 1975 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      88

Jadot 1974 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      93

Jadot 1973 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru      96

Many of my greatest wine experiences have been in front of a bottle of aged white Burgundy. This vertical of Jadot’s Corton-Charlemagne was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise. Best of all, the wines showed beautifully, even those from less fortunate years. It is a shame that buying white Burgundy today is so fraught with the perils of premature oxidation. These wines all come from a true Golden Age for white Burgundy. Readers should note that drinking windows are based on the bottles I tasted at Jadot. Unless absolutely impeccably stored, the same wines tasted outside the winery are virtually guaranteed to be more advanced.
Jadot acquired a single but sizeable parcel in Corton-Charlemagne in 1914. The vineyard, which is located in the Pougets climat, spans 3.07 hectares; divided into 1.87 hectares of Chardonnay and 1.2 hectares of Pinot. Chardonnay is planted on the upper part of the hillside, where the terrain is predominantly limestone and rocks, while Pinot Noir thrives on the lower part of the slope, which is more fertile and has a greater presence of marl.
One of things I admire most about Jadot, President Pierre-Henry Gagey and Winemaker Jacques Lardière is their willingness to include wines from very difficult vintages into verticals like these, always a bit of a risk. Most producers cherry pick and only show their very best vintages, but Jadot is willing to take more chances than most, and it usually works in their favor, as these tasting notes make abundantly clear. Readers may want to take a look at my video interview with Jacques Lardière that accompanies this article. I apologize for the poor quality of the video, which is the result of an unforeseen technical issue.

The 1996 Corton-Charlemagne is rich, honeyed and totally beautiful. Almonds, white flowers, nectarines and subtle French oak are all layered together in a rich fabric of notable class. Remarkably accessible for a 1996, Jadot’s Corton Charlemagne is drinking beautifully today. The creamy, medium-bodied style is highly appealing. Drinking window: 2013-2026. The 1994 Corton-Charlemagne surprises for its richness, density and power. Butter, dried apricots, tangerine and mango are alive in the glass. The presence of botrytis, which is high in 1994, is very much felt in the wine’s viscosity and pure textural richness. With time in the glass, though, the wine freshens up considerably as mineral notes become vivid. The 1994 remains bright, focused and quite youthful. Today, it is simply magnificent.  Frankly, the 1994 is simply magnificent. Drinking window: 2013-2024. Another huge, full-bodied wine, the 1992 Corton-Charlemagne blasts from the glass with voluminous layers of rich, intense fruit. Here, again, the presence of botrytis seems to amplify the flavors and give them greater breadth. The 1992 is stylistically similar to the 1994, but it is bigger, riper, and in my view, a bit less elegant. It will be interesting to see if the 1992 remains huge, or if it will find more elegance in bottle. At this stage, my impression is it will be the former. Still, given all of today’s issues surrounding premature oxidation, it is a pure joy to taste a 20 year-old Corton-Charlemagne that is still in fine shape. Drinking window: 2013-2023.

Jadot’s 1991 Corton-Charlemagne is intriguing. A smaller-scaled version of the 1992, the 1991 is rich, viscous and tropical, but not as powerful as its younger sibling nor as polished as the 1994, admittedly only by a hair. Nectarines, flowers, mint and passion fruit are wrapped together in this impressively layered, beautifully balanced wine. Like the 1994, the 1991 finds its minerality on the finish. Drinking window: 2013-2023. In some vintages the Corton-Charlemagne is reminiscent of a red wine in terms of its overall structure. That is very much the case with the 1990, a wine that stands out for its broad shoulders. There is plenty of depth in the rich, voluptuous flavors, but ultimately, the 1990 comes across as a bit heavy. Hazelnuts, dried apricots, almonds and autumn leaves all linger on the finish. Drinking window: 2013-2020. The 1989 Corton-Charlemagne is drop-dead gorgeous. Nothing in particular stands out because the wine is so exceptionally balanced. A touch of botrytis adds an element of exoticism as the layers of flavor fill out in this seamless, totally sensual Corton-Charlemagne. The 1989 remains a wine of pure, exquisite pleasure. Drinking window: 2013-2023.

Jadot’s 1988 Corton-Charlemagne comes across as very structured, at times reminding me more of a red in terms of its spine. Hints of dried apricots, savory herbs and tobacco are all woven into the finish. There is plenty of tension and drive, but the 1988 lacks some of the mid-palate sweetness and generosity of the very finest years. Over time, the wine does open up a bit, but it never fully loses its sense of grip. Drinking window: 2013-2023. The 1986 Corton-Charlemagne is a little more generous than the 1988, but it shares that wine’s structural underpinnings. A powerful, full-bodied wine, the 1988 is laced with dried yellow fruits, tobacco, smoke and incense. The 1986 has held up well, but it remains somewhat rustic, especially in this context. Drinking window: 2013-2023. One of the pleasant surprises in this vertical, the 1984 Corton-Charlemagne is another wine that has aged exceptionally well, especially considering the poor vintage. Honey, almonds, mango and autumn leaves are layered into the finish. The 1984 finishes a bit dry and compact, but that is hardly surprising considering the challenges of a year in which the fruit was literally harvested under the rain. There isn’t any upside left in the 1984, but it is quite beautiful today. Drinking window: 2013-2014.

The 1982 Corton-Charlemagne is a wine of pure sophistication. Although the 1982 doesn’t quite have the singular personality of the very best years, it more than makes up for that with its superb overall balance and sense of harmony. According to Jacques Lardière the vintage was a little more abundant than he would have liked. That wasn’t enough to stop him from making a gorgeous Corton-Charlemagne that is drinking well today and has another decade or so of fabulous drinking ahead. Drinking window: 2013-2022. I have been fortunate to taste the 1978 Corton-Charlemagne on three occasions over the last year, and this is the best bottle. Underlying veins of acidity give the 1978 its vibrancy and energy. Honey, almond, licorice, tar and anise are some of the scents that emerge from the glass over time. The 1978 is another Corton-Charlemagne with the power and structure of a red. This is a fabulous bottle. Drinking window: 2013-2018. 

The 1976 Corton-Charlemagne stands out for many reasons, including its striking inner perfume, viscosity and sheer breed. Lardière describes 1976 as a hot, dry vintage. Consequently, the fruit was brought in early and there was no botrytis, while the acidity level was close to that of 1996. Over time, the 1976 has acquired a gorgeous sense of exoticness and oiliness that only aged white Burgundy seems capable of. Orange peel, fennel, mint, honey and dried flowers all flesh out in a rich, full-bodied white that satisfies all of the senses. Today, the 1976 is simply breathtaking in its purity. Drinking window: 2013-2023.

The 1975 Corton-Charlemagne is the product of a difficult, rot-plagued year that resulted in no Jadot reds. Advanced in its color, the 1975 is high in acidity and lacks mid-palate depth. Orange peel, truffle, exotic spices, savory herbs and dried fruit are some of the nuances found in the glass. This is a more than respectable effort for the year, but the wine’s overall austerity and compactness are impossible to look past. Drinking window: 2013-2018. I am frankly surprised (in a good way) Jadot decided to include their 1974 Corton-Charlemagne in this tasting.  The unusually bright color is a reminder of a year in which the fruit did not fully ripen.  Green apples, pears, white flowers and a hint of Riesling-inflected petrol inform this subtle, wonderfully nuanced Corton-Charlemagne. Today, the 1974 remains incredibly vibrant. Drinking window: 2013-2023. The 1973 Corton-Charlemagne is totally breathtaking. What a great way to end this tasting. Hints of tropical fruit, nectarine, almonds and a hint of spice emerge from a wine that is impeccably balanced. Still quite vibrant, the 1973 is rich but not at all heavy. Underlying beams of acidity emerge over time, giving the wine its sense of energy and proportion. How much longer will the 1973 drink at this level? Well, I am not entirely sure, but I don’t see the wine going anywhere anytime soon. Simply put, the 1973 is a revelation. Drinking window: 2013-2033.

-- Antonio Galloni