Who is Henri Jayer?
Henri Jayer should be no stranger to anyone involved in the fine wine industry. Considered by many to be the godfather of Burgundy wines, he passed away in 2006 at the age of 84 years old. Henri Jayer was an innovator and pioneer in the wine trade; his methods strayed from the ordinary, his techniques were cultivated over decades to produce the most luxurious of Burgundy wines, and it is no surprise that as of 2013 he now holds the world record in the most expensive wine ever sold.
Henri Jayer – Brief History
Henri Jayer was a French Vintner (ie. winemaker) born in Vosne-Romanee, well known for innovations in the production of Burgundy wines. After earning a degree in oenology (the science of wine production) in the 1940’s, Henri Jayer slowly but surely built his own legacy with his revolutionary techniques in Burgundy production. Over the course of 50 years, Henri Jayer literally built his empire piece by piece.
It all started in 1945, after the world war Henri entered an agreement with Madame Noirot-Camuzet, whereby Jayer cultivated and managed the property in return for half of the grape harvest. After producing under a shared brand for several years, Henri Jayer finally released Burgundy wines under his own label in 1951. However, he remained a consultant for the Camuzet estate long after Madame Noirot-Camuzet passed away, exceeding the original 10 year contract, finally culminating in 1988.
In that time Henri Jayer acquired further plots of land and vinyards for his own wine production, amassing around 80 hectares of land in total. In 1996 the French government forced Henri Jayer to either retire or forfeit his pension, which led him to transfer his vinyards to his nephew Emmanuel Rouget. Henri was still active in the production of wine until 2001 when he retired gracefully. His standards and unique intricacies when it came to Burgundy production are still replicated today, and he will forever be remembered as a pioneer and game changer in the luxury wine industry.
Pinot Noir: Henri Jayer is widely recognized for his fantastic production of Pinot Noir.
• Cultivation Techniques: Plowing – to control the growth of weeds.
• Filtration: Henri Jayer did not believe in filtering his wines. Hence, on all his production it proudly states “Ce vin n’a pas ete filtre” – the wine was not filtered.
• Destemming: A fierce advocate of always destemming his grapes.
• Invented the Cold Soak Technique: a pre-maceration to avoid spontaneous fermentation. It allows for more complex aromas, fruit and vivid color, whilst being less harsh.
• Cros Parantoux: Well known for his wines from the premier cru Cros-Parantoux.
Recently, at Christie’s auction in Hong Kong, a case of Henri Jayer’s Burgundy Cros Parantoux 1985 sold for a record sum of USD 265,645. At the very same auction, another Henri Jayer production, Richebourg 1976 Grand Cru sold for USD 234,709; a respectable tribute to the premier quality of his wines.
Henri Jayer was a pioneer in the wine industry, an innovator in wine production, and the creator of some of the world’s most expensive and luxurious wines. While his production techniques and innovations guide the future winemakers, his past creations continue to age majestically. Henri Jayer’s Burgundy wines show great potential for investment, often commanding astronomical prices; a fact that is more than justified, given the legend and legacy of Henri Jayer.
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