The Capitain Ladoix 1er Cru Grechons is very much an insider's wine. It's sold almost exclusively in the region (or to those who know Capitain well). Year upon year we have tasted the new Grechons at the same time that we taste the latest Capitain Corton Charlemagne, often standing in the freezing cold when the barrels have been taken outside to cold-precipitate the tartaric acids. The number of times we have mistaken the Grechons for the Charlemagne cannot be just chance! There is a similarity in the minerality, with that Corton Mountain limestone smokiness unlain with honey and white flowers.
Anybody who has followed us since our start in early 1996 knows the Maison Capitain-Gagnerot in Ladoix-Serrigny. We have seen three generation now. Roger Capitain was our first mentor in Burgundy, and we learned our craft leaning against a wine barrel, soaking up his wisdom and discussing his inimitable wines. His sons Patrice and Michel, and now Patrice's son Pierre Francois (the whole family, really), carry on a tradition that is most easily described as a style. There is no mistaking a Capitain wine. Once you know it, you can pick one out just in the bouquet. It's a purity. And it's our benchmark in Burgundy.
BURGUNDY 2018 VINTAGE
There has been talk over the past year of the 2018 vintage in Burgundy being one of the greatest of all time. Comparisons with the mythical 1947, and all that. But let’s be careful and take a closer look.
We’ve tasted some marvelous wines, both white and red, and from all of the appellation levels. Purity and concentration would be the key words across the board.
But lest we forget, 2018 was the hottest vintage in Burgundy since 2003. And frankly, we were expecting wines like we got in 2003: flabby whites and Cote du Rhone-like reds. But that did not happen. And the secret to understanding 2018 Burgundy lies in understanding the difference between these two very hot years.
If you look at 2018 from start to finish, not only was it hot, it was dry: 50% less precipitation than the annual average over the past 30 years. However, if you were here in the early part of the year, you’ll certainly remember the rain.
After a very dry summer in 2017, winter 2017-18 was wet. It rained nearly every day through March and into April. And the vine was slow to bud.
That all changed in the middle of April. Wet soil and higher temperatures brought on explosive growth in the vineyards that the vignerons had a tough time keeping up with. In a week we went from bud burst to unfurled leaves.
The first flowers burst in mid-May. The crop set regularly with very little disruption, and summer settled in. The early wet conditions followed by April’s warmth saw the onset of mildew, but the fungus never stood a chance.
It was a hot and sunny summer. Some would say it was a heat wave and a drought. And we started to see signs of stress in vineyards in certain sectors. Things were better where there was a little rain. But August was bone dry. In fact, there was no rain from June 15th to the end of October.
It was about this time that comparisons to 2015 cropped up. You could see ripeness rapidly approaching, and there was talk of harvest starting at the end of August.
The vines were incredibly healthy; no moisture means no threat from mildew or odium. No rot. Good ripeness.
And, for the first time since 2009….a normal yield! So, let the harvest begin!
And it did, in the last days of August. What was most astonishing right from the start was that the perceived acidity levels seem OK. Granted, there’s no malic acid, but the levels of tartaric acid seem to be compensating, and there is an over-all impression of balance.
Also amazing was the amount of juice the crop produced. Not only was the yield bigger than the past 10 years’ average, but the amount of juice set a record for Burgundy. So there will be a lot of 2018 around.
And all this in a year that felt more like the south of Spain than Burgundy as we know it. The only thing we can attribute the quality of 2018 to is the abundant winter rains, and the vine’s ability to go searching for water when it needs it.
COTE DE BEAUNE
Coming south from Dijon, Ladoix is the first village of the Cote de Beaune. En route you will have left the Cote de Nuits at Nuits St. Georges and traversed a zone of commercial quarries. Ladoix shares with Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses the famous wines of the Corton mountain. But it also has a northern zone of vestigial Cotes de Nuits soil. The vineyards grow both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, seemingly randomly, but really they are planted mostly according to the complexity of the soils as the hillside heads up into the vines of Aloxe-Corton.
Produced in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny, the appellation Ladoix includes 11 premiers crus.
Ladoix red is often the color of cassis (or blackcurrant), bright garnet with deeper tints. But if you are looking for deep color, you have come to the wrong place. Ladoix is a finesse wine, long on little red woodland fruit and the first hints of Cote de Nuits cherry. It is deceptively tender and supple, but should have a depth that comes from its location rather than extraction. It can be voluminous without being dense.
Ladoix white is golden straw colored and should smell of flowers and have notes of ripe autumn fruit, plum and apple, pear and fig. They are bright on the palate, often very juicy, but show the firmness of good structure. Their minerality in not unlike the famous neighbor further up the slope, Corton-Charlemagne
The soils of the upper slopes are pebbly and red, iron-rich olite with a high limestone content and a good bit of marl. These soils suit white wines. Mid-slope, reddish-brown calcareous soils with abundant limestone debris produce full-bodied and flamboyant red wines. Clayey soils at the foot of the slopes take away some of their finesse, but add oomph. Exposures are mainly east or south-east to south. with altitudes at 230 to 325 meters
Reds - Pinot Noir
Whites - Chardonnay
Production surface area :
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 73.86 ha (including 15.96 ha premier cru)
Whites : 20.14 ha (including 8.73 ha premier cru)
'Silky' is a word often used to describe red Ladoix. Soft tannins and roundness texture go well with cured ham and delicate meats like rabbit or boiled beef. There is a fleshiness that will smooth out the spices in a curry of lamb or poultry. It goes well with mild cheeses such as Vacherin, Reblochon or Cîteaux.
Ladoix white at its fullest, suits the salty iodine flavors of shellfish and cooked seafood. Blue cheeses work, as do firmer aged goat cheeses and grainy gruyère.
On the label, the appellations 'Ladoix' and 'Ladoix 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru.