Today when you discuss Burgundy’s finest vintners, more often than not it is the names Romanée-Conti, Dujac, Roumier, Rousseau, Faiveley (and the list goes on..) that fall from the lips of wine connoisseurs. But, what about the Burgundian craftsmen of a previous generation? The original heroes to which Burgundy owes it’s international cache’.
Henri Jayer is one of Burgundy’s most revered winemakers from the last century. A master that truly defined the art of grape vine cultivation and winemaking, Jayer has been credited with introducing some of the most important innovative practices to Burgundian winemaking. Born in 1922 in the small commune of Vosnee Romanee, it is perhaps no coincidence that the Côte de Nuits' brightest star was the hometown of a man that would propel Burgundy to such supernova heights.
However, Jayer was not always destined or full of dreams to become Burgundy’s top vigneron; rather the stepping stones to such were thrust upon him. His father, Eugène owned several small vineyard parcels in Vosne-Romanée, Echézeaux and Nuit-St-Georges which he had at a bargain following the Phylloxera outbreak.
After his brothers were drafted to the frontline during WW2, Jayer was left to manage the family’s vineyard holdings. His marriage to Marcelle Rouget in 1942 really inspired his unfailing dedication for winemaking as Marcelle too had come from a family of winemakers and had spent time picking grapes for Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. Not only did Marcelle re-ignite Jayer's passion for viniculture, but she went on to become his partner in the vineyards.
Jayer’s first vintage dates back to 1945 and like many great artists, since his death in 2006 at the age of 84, his highly regarded Pinot Noir expressions have grown in desirability and scarcity. Today, they are increasingly sought-after on the secondary market by connoisseurs and collectors around the world. Jayer was always renowned for his meticulous nature and the fact that he strayed from the ordinary. He was one of the first Burgundy vintners to use forward thinking practices such as advocating low yields, avoiding filtration and completely de-stemming his harvest before maceration - all of these techniques remained part of his philosophy for the 60 years he worked his vineyards.
Henri Jayer's wines became some of the most sought-after in Burgundy and his name remains a legacy today. In 2015, Henri Jayer headed the list for the World’s Most Expensive Wines and these increasingly rare and sought-after bottles continue to enchant collectors and critics alike. Those lucky few who have had the opportunity to taste some of his expressions in recent years, confirm their reputation and legacy. Today, wines from Henri Jayer are truly priceless treasures for lovers of the Burgundian craft.