Wine Monopole

 

The late legendary winemaker, Henri Jayer, produced the absolutely most sought after (and expensive) wine in the world. His Richebourg and Cros Parantoux can easily cost more than HK$100-200K per bottle, if you are lucky enough to see one (and willing to pay for it of course).

His approach of winemaking - minimal use of chemicals, active plowing to control weeds, low yield and cold soaking prior to maceration - heavily influenced young generation of winemakers in Burgundy. Truly a Grandmaster, he has over time passed on his wisdom to his "apprentices", who have all become some of the most excellent producers in Cote d'Or.

Since Henri’s retirement in 2001, Emmanuel Rouget (nephew of Henri) has been taking care of the bottling of Jayer’s family estate. After Jayer passed away in 2006, Jayer family’s entire vineyard holding was passed to Rouget. Of course, there will always be a giant shadow of Jayer’s success over Rouget, but Emmanuel has proven his superb winemaking skills and continued to produce some excellent wines in Burgundy. Unfortunately, his wines are also quite difficult to find and not cheap.

Similar to many producers in the past, Henri Jayer used to take care the vineyards of other owners, in particular those of the Camuzet's family in Vosne Romanee. In return, Henri received half of the yield as his compensation and bottled these wines in his own label. Current winemaker of Domaine Meo-Camuzet, Jean-Nicholas Meo, had been the protege of Henri since the late 80s and receiving solid hands-on training. Meo has surely emerged as the star in Burgundy, producing a wide range of splendid wines from Vosne Romanee, Nuits-St-Georges, Chambolle-Musigny and Corton.

Another fortunate producer who had received training from Henri Jayer in the late 80s was Claude Dugat. Claude is now considered one of the top producers in all of Burgundy, and particularly in Gevrey-Chambertin. However, given the small size of his vineyards (only 6 hectare), Claude can only produce very limited quantity. Certainly worth a try if you happen to see his wines anywhere.

There are few others who have various degree of apprenticeship from the legend, including Jean-Yves Bizot, Philippe Charlopin-Parizot and Chauvenet-Chopin. Very solid quality from these producers, but not easy to find in HK.

Two other relatives of Henri Jayer are also worth mentioning given their wine quality – Jayer-Gilles (cousin of Henri) and Haegelen Jayer (nephew of Henri). Henri had not worked with them closely, but the gene of brilliant winemaking skills probably does run in the Jayer family.

A true Grandmaster not only produces terrific wines, but enables others to continue to do so for the future.

 

Written by Wine Monopole — February 26, 2013

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