wines of Jean-François Ganevat
Visiting one of the Jura's star producers
We arrived in the small hamlet of La Combe. It was definitely the
right place, but now it was time to find out exactly where we were
supposed to go. I knew this would be tricky, and it was. There were
lots of doors, but nowhere obvious to knock.
is it! Ganevat
Visiting Domaine Jean-François Ganevat was as much as an act of
pilgrimage as I was likely to get in the wine world. I've very much
enjoyed the wines, and they've become significantly emotionally too,
because of where and when I've drunk them. And they now have
celebrity status in the natural wine camp.
The Ganevat family have their roots in Jura. Until 1976 they raised
cows as well as growing vines, but since then all the attention has
been on the vineyard and cellar. Jean-François, who has built the
fame of the domaine, began working alongside his father and then
went to wine school, followed by a spell working with Domaine Marc
Morey in Burgundy.
Nine years after he left he returned to the family estate in 1998,
and has run it since. He's built the vineyard holdings up to 13
hectares and farming is
biodynamic. The largest plot is Les Chalasses (4 ha), followed by
Les Grands Teppes (2 ha) and Grusse en Billat (1.8 ha). But as well
as drawing on the domaine vineyards, he also makes a range of
negociant bottlings that are Vin de France, and which commonly blend
together wines from different regions.
The winemaking is pretty natural, and no sulfur dioxide has been
used during vinification since 2006, with just small additions to
Florine and Les Billats at bottling. The whites spend a long time on
lees and are aged for extended periods in barrel and amphora.
Typically, more than 30 cuvées are released each vintage.
We had a 2 pm appointment with Anne Ganevat, who's the sister of
Jean-François (he's away at La Paulee de Meursault the day we
visit). So not knowing where to knock, I call her. I hear the phone
ring and we have a brief conversation in my bad French: she'd
already warned me that she didn't like to speak English. Five
minutes, I'll be down. As we wait, a car draws up and three young
dudes (Italian? German?) draw up and ask if this is Ganevat. They
have an appointment two.
Anne comes down and takes us through to the main cellar, where the
negociant wines are kept. 2017 was a disaster in the Jura because of
frost, and Ganevat was hit hard. '95% of the vines were lost,' she
says. 'A catastrophe.' As a result, they've made more negociant
wines, spreading the net far and wide. We taste from large barrel
and tank. There's a blend of Grenache and Gamay: natural, funky and
fresh. Then a Macon Gamay that's supple and elegant, followed by an
Alsace Riesling with good acidity and focus. Pinot Gris follows,
with 10-days' maceration, with good grip and structure.
But the real fun starts when we cross the road. In a series of
adjoining houses, Ganevat has several small cellars where the
domaine wines are in barrel and amphora. The 2015 vintage is looking
very exciting indeed, and the few 2016s we tried were also lovely.
These are my notes.
Chamois de Paradis Chardonnay 2015
mineral with powerful creamy hints and bold lemony acidity.
Beautiful stuff. Creamy, textural and with high acidity.
Chardonnay from schist, planted 1990, 2015
Textural with nice intensity. Has some richer notes but also good
acidity and great energy. Lovely wine.
Cuvée Marguerite Chardonnay 2015
This comes from
vines planted in greay marl in 1902, and it's only bottled in
magnum. Lovely fine lemony aromatics. So mineral, pure and intense
with great acidity. Very fine.
Les Grands Teppes Chardonnay 2015
with a beautiful nose. Pure and mineral with subtle nutty notes.
Lovely bright lemons and spice. Mineral and structured, this is
Les Chalasses Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay 2015
These vines were planted in 1912. Slight appley edge to the lemony
nose. Intense with a salty, mineral edge to the lemony fruit.
There's a hint of fino sherry here with lovely acid and minerality.
Les Grandes Teppes Vieilles Vignes 2016 (from Tuscan
Very sweetly aromatic with texture, depth and
some stoniness. Sweet pear and white peach aromatics. Distinctive.
Savagnin Vert 2015
Salty, intense and mineral
with high acidity. Pear, lemons, wax and nuts.
Savagnin Vert 2015 (from schist)
nose. Very structural with nice acidity. Has density. Core of apple
and citrus fruit.
Ganevat De Toute Beaute Vin de France 2016
is Gamay from Fleurie and Pinot from Jura. Vivid, fresh, spicy and
reductive with lovely cherry and raspberry fruit. Tangy and bright
with lovely intensity. Juicy and fresh. 92/100
Ganevat Poulsard Cuvée de l'Enfant Terrible 2016 Jura,
Pale-ish colour. Supple and fine with sweet red cherries, some tea
leaf and some herb notes. Elegant and sappy with some savoury earthy
Ganevat Trousseau Plein Sud 2016 Jura, France
Really aromatic with floral red cherries and some cranberry. Lovely
tart cherry and redcurrant palate with nice freshness. So pretty
with good crunch, hints of wet stones, and some dried herb notes.
Fruity and fresh. 94/100
Ganevat Pinot Noir En Billat 2016 Jura, France
From schist soils. Fragrant and aromatic with supple sweet cherries
and a hint of earthiness, as well as nice texture and purity. Silky
and fine with real prettiness. This has some depth. 93/100
Ganevat Pinot Noir Cuvée Julien 2016 Jura, France
Old vines, planted in 1949. Rich, textural and showing earth, spice
and herbs as well as some pepper. A little bit wild and feral with a
meaty tang. Very fine tannic structure. Beguiling wine. 94/100
Ganevat Vin Jaune 2007 Jura, France
aged under flor. Spicy and intense with exotic nutty notes, hints of
raisins and even curry spice. So complex and fine with amazing depth
and length. 96/100
An older report on Ganevat's wines from
in the hamlet of La
Combe, Jean-François is making some incredible Jura wines from
recently-certified (Demeter) biodynamic vineyards. In 1998 he
returned to the family domaine after a period spent working in
Burgundy, with Jean-Marc Morey. These wines are naturally made, with
the reds receiving no sulfur dioxide additions, and the whites only
a tiny amount. These are true terroir wines, and they are thrilling
– especially the remarkable Savagnin. Not tasted here is a very
well regarded Pinot Noir.
Ganevat Savagnin Cuvée Prestige 2004
This is a multifaceted chameleon of a wine, and I really like
it. It has a remarkably lively salty, minerally, tangy nose that's
complex and sherried, but very fresh. The palate is lemony, herby,
tangy and intense. So
fresh and bright with some appley, nutty depth. Warm, long, rich
Ganevat Chardonnay 'Grusse en Billat' 2007
Fresh, pure, taut and intense with some herby, lemony notes.
Fresh and minerally. Real power and purity here with good acidity.
Ganevat Trousseau Plein Sud 2008
Subtly spicy cherry fruit nose. The palate is fresh and quite
elegant with nice acidity and lovely tannins. Light and cherryish,
but structured. 91/100
Ganevat Poulsard Vieilles Vignes 'L'Enfant Terrible' 2008
Orange/red colour. Sweet, warm, spicy nose with some roasted
notes. The palate is fresh and pure with some cherry fruit backed up
by complex minerally notes and high acidity. An elegant wine. 92/100
UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene
Wines tasted: 04/10
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com
from May 2007:
Jura is one of those wine regions I can’t help but be drawn to.
The mountain scenery; the fact that the wines are a bit different;
the unfashionable nature of some of the wine styles; the sense of
place the wines possess – all these factors contribute to its
Ganevat is one of the leading producers. They have 85 year old vines
and are in conversion to biodynamics. The wines are great, and they
are affordable. The labels have a sort of minimalist, old fashioned
chic. What more could you want?
wines are available in the UK from Les Caves de Pyrene (www.lescaves.co.uk)
Ganevat Trousseau 2004 Côtes du Jura
very supple, bright style of red wine. Fresh bright cherry and berry
fruit nose with a bit of greenness. The palate is elegant with some
fruit sweetness and a bit of tannic structure. 90/100
Ganevat Pinot Noir 2004 Côtes du Jura
coloured. Smooth, bright fruit here with a hint of greenness and
some cherry and red berry fruit. Light and expressive; a really
attractive Pinot. 89/100
Domaine Ganevat Chardonnay Grands Teppes 2002 Côtes du Jura
Rich, full bold nose is ripe, sweet, nutty and spicy. The palate
is sweetly fruited with a lovely spicy, minerally character. Long,
complex and lovely. 92/100
Ganevat Chardonnay Florine 2004 Côtes du Jura
bright and full on the nose. The palate is nutty and fresh with
pure, rounded fruit that has a lemony edge. Long, complex finish.