Jane Eyre: Burgundy’s Star independent
By Tom Prior
Burgundy’s Jane Eyre was named ‘Negociant of the Year’ at the 2021 Grand Prix de La Revue du Vins de France, the equivalent of the Michelin Guide for wine. The negociant category refers to independent vignerons who buy in grapes.
It’s a fiercely competitive category and no wonder. To purchase land in Burgundy is expensive; one hectare of grand cru vineyard could set you back as much as €14m (as of 2018, according to Decanter).
The recognition at RVF comes from peers, and Jane is both the first expat (she’s Australian) and first woman to receive this prestigious award.
Jane’s story in wine begins in Melbourne in 1998, where she left her hair-dressing job of 10 years to visit Burgundy for her first harvest. Jane had developed a keen interest in wine, and would strike it lucky in gaining valuable connections to Burgundy through a hair dressing client.
On her return to Australia she studied wine science and viticulture at Charles Sturt University, and continued to work harvests in New Zealand, Burgundy, Australia and Germany. She made the permanent move to Burgundy in 2004, working for Dominique Lafon and later as assistant winemaker at Domaine Newman.
Armed with a €6,000 loan, and a barrel donated by Chris Newman, Jane launched her micro-negociant operation in 2011. A solo parent, Jane’s dream is to purchase a small vineyard as a legacy for her daughter, Stella.
Stylistically, Jane favours lifted aromatics and clarity of fruit in her Pinot bottlings. She employs gentle extraction and oaking, a portion of stems according to vintage, and a deft touch in the cellar, opting to bottle earlier than the norm to capture freshness. The resulting wines are stunning, approachable in youth but ultimately with the balance to reward cellar time.
“Is there is soupçon of the New World here? Well, if there is then she cherry-picks the best bits and infuses them with Burgundy." Neal Martin
View Jane Eyre wines HERE - Here are two highlights from me.
This is the fist vineyard bottling by Jane, since 2011, from one of the most prized vineyards in Savigny les Beaunes. It’s a deeply expressive wine, showing pure varietal fruit and with the balance and structure to reward ongoing cellar time. Signature Jane Eyre.
"The 2018 Savigny-lès-Beaune Aux Vergelesses 1er Cru has a refined and focused bouquet with impressive _mineralité. Eyre really exploits this great vineyard with wild strawberry and crushed stone aromas developing with time. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly ferrous opening. I appreciate the "kick" on the finish, completing a very fine Savigny that should age with style. This is worth seeking out." 2021-2030, Neal Martin, Vinous, Jan 2020, 90 Pts
Beaujolais is on a role; five consecutively high-quality vintages, a playground of old vineyard parcels, natural winemaking at the core, and a talented generation seeking to highlight its’ potential. It’s also great relative value and lauded by sommeliers the world over. It’s a region to take seriously. Jane Eyre is one such champion.
Jane had demand from her client base for an ‘entry level’ Bourgogne Pinot, but considered that for the same cost, she could rather delve into cru Beaujolais. This bottling comes from the famed area of Labourons, at high elevation on the Fleurie slopes. The vineyard is 80 years old and planted on pink granite and schist.
At its’ best, gamay expressions of Fleurie can produce a parade of wild red and blue berry fruit, florals, laced with a black mineral edge reminiscent of Northern Rhone syrah. All wrapped up in varietal derived freshness and drinkability. Delicious.
"Opening in the glass with aromas of cherries, smoked meats, spices and rose hips—as well as a touch of light reduction that dissipates with air—Jane Eyre's 2018 Fleurie is medium to full-bodied, fleshy and textural, its powdery structuring tannins cloaked in a succulent core of fruit. While it's charming enough to be drunk now, it's also endowed with the substance to age." 2020-2033, William Kelley, Wine Advocate, 90+ Pts, May 2020