BEAUNE, France--Jacques Lardière, longtime technical director for the négociant house Louis Jadot, does not spend a lot of money on haircuts. The picture above was taken in the cellars back in October of 2002, and the latest photo, in the New York Times last week, suggests he hasn't visited a coiffeur in the intervening years. But why would he? The important thing isn't what you wear or how you comb your locks, it's how you communicate with what's in your glass. And Jacques Lardière, more than anyone alive today, is responsible for how the world thinks of Burgundy. He is more than the cellarmaster for one of Burgundy's leading merchants, more than a sage teacher, more than a guru to his colleagues, more even than an oracle. He is what we think of as a Druid, at once priestly and eternal, who speaks in metaphors and who seems to live and think (yes, rather like Yoda) on an entirely different plane of existence.
Eric Asimov wrote down some of what Lardière said at a recent tasting:
"When you drink wine, you must realize you are drinking something more than wine," he said to start things off. "It's a very meditative beverage."I had the privilege of tasting with Lardière in the Louis Jadot cellars, the old ones in the center of Beaune and the new ones on the outskirts, and the experience was transformative, almost religious in its intensity. Yes, he talked about minerality and molecules, and the interconnectedness of the vine and the earth, and then this: "To make great wine in Bordeaux requires genius. To make great wine in Burgundy requires humility."
He spoke of the vines pumping minerality from the ground and pulling molecules from the air, "some lighter and higher than others." He referred to the flavors of hawthorn and green hazelnuts, studding his English sentences with regular "doncs," a French transitional that served as connective tissue between thoughts. "The more you drink, the more you are," he concluded.