Jean Francois Ganevat Les Chalasses Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay 2011
Ganevat is one of the Jura’s most sought after producers. He also happens to make some of its greatest wines. Sadly, prices have now increased to match the demand of the younger breed of sommelier’s in the world’s top restaurants. I think the reason is because these wines have the magic combination of being beautiful, terroir driven, and clean.
Jean Francois, from a Jura wine making family, trained for 9 years in Burgundy at Domaine Jean-Marc Morey, one of Chassagne’s top estates. He brought this training back to his family’s domaine and revamped everything in 1998. Since then, Domaine Ganevat has become increasingly exciting each year.
The wines are vast and made up of both famous varieties such as Chardonnay and Savignan but also small percentages of numerous unknown heritage varieties such as Seyve-Villard or Corbeau. The diversity is significant and enhanced by Ganevat’s three main terroirs: les Chalasses, Les Grandes Teppes and Grusse en Billat. In combining the terroirs and varieties, Ganevat manages to produce 35-40 different cuvees each year. That is pretty astonishing and shows his passion for difference.
Making Wine without SO2
Ganevat works extremely carefully. For instance, he and his team destem all his grapes by hand, with scissors because he believes it creates more ‘purity’. Large wood vats are used for open-top fermentation.
Of interest to many is that Ganevat uses no SO2 in the majority of his wines, including this cuvee. Yet, the wines remain clean and stable. Why is this? Ganevat’s view is that his long elevages on the lees are crucial because the cask rooms are not particularly cold and many are at street level rather in a cellar. The wines, he believes, are thus used to changing temperatures and can handle travel while remaining stable.
This wine is stunningly good. It is made with vines planted in 1902. It sits 24 months on the lees and is bottled without sulphur. It is extremely clean and stable – and utterly expressive. It is not oxidative because Ganevat does not believe in this winemaking style, saying it highlights power over elegance. Moreover, according to Ganevat most oxidative wines in the Jura are made with commercial yeasts to form the voile – didn’t see that coming did you?
This old-vine Chardonnay reminds me of Chablis in its total transparency, moreso than any other Chardonnay I’ve had outside of Chablis. It is mid-weight and saline with extremely wonderful florals. It is also very dry and so does best with vegetables and mid-weight foods.
I found it paired remarkably well with rabbit, courgettes, morels and peas as well as asparagus soup.
$60-90 USD at various outlets on wine searcher