This is quite a wine. It’s seven years old, made in a very natural way, and it’s still incredibly reductive, with a strong matchstick/mineral character. There are some subtle oxidative notes, too, but overall the wine is very fresh. This is a wine that clearly demonstrates that reduction is not simply the opposite of oxidation, and that you can’t simply ‘blow off’ reduction with air. This wine is still very reductive three days after opening. Reduction refers to volatile sulfur compounds produced by yeasts, and their perception can be enhanced or diminished by the presence or absence of oxygen, but not always. It’s a wine I appreciate, and even enjoy, and certainly one I admire. But it’s not for everyone. Jouveaux makes 6000 bottles in all each vintage, and this wine comes from half a hectare he has in Vire-Clesse. Winemaking is simple: hand-picked, organically farmed grapes are pressed into old barrels where they ferment. The results are quite something.
Alexandre Jouveaux Combarnier (2010) NV Vin de France
From the Maconnais, this is a remarkable natural wine that has developed in a very interesting way. It has not been stored very carefully, yet it’s still so fresh and complex, and pale in colour. The first thing you get is an astonishingly aromatic nose of intense reductive characters: there’s matchstick, mineral, a hint of rubber, flint and fine herbs. On the palate there’s intense, fresh lemon fruit with bracing acidity. It’s fine, complex and spicy with incredible intensity. This is such a complex, edgy wine, it won’t be for many. But those who like it, will probably love it. Probably the most intense matchstick reduction I’ve experienced in a wine. On day 2 it was just the same. 93/100 (the current vintage is available from Roberson in the UK).
See also: an earlier post about one of Jouveaux’s wines