La Gravière, Chardonnay

La Gravière, Chardonnay

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Jura FR

Type, White

Grapes, Chardonnay

Alc.  13.4%

Year 2018

Size, 750ml

About: From old vines, grown on grey marl soils and aged on lees for two years. La Gravière is a classic Ganevat chardonnay, reductive flint and sulphur on the nose which blows off quickly to reveal a beautifully mineral and expressive wine. Apple and citrus deliciousness. 

When talking about wines from the Jura, it is almost impossible to not speak about Jean-François Ganevat. A true magician/nutty professor of winemaking, his rise to stardom is wholly deserved and is now rightfully thought to be amongst the greatest vignerons in the world. 

Jean-François, or Fanfan as he is better known in the charming hamlet of La Combe de Rotalier, where he lives and works, comes from a long line of winemakers dating back to 1650. It was his father who taught him the basics of winemaking before mastering his craft with the great Jean-Marc Morey and his family in Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy. 

Returning to the Jura in 1998 and with the help of his sister, Anne, Fanfan tends to 13ha of domaine vineyards. They grow all 5 traditional Jura grapes, along with many other ancient, weird and wonderful varieties that were preserved by their father, such as Gueuche (white and red), Seyve-Villard, Portugais Bleu, Enfariné, Argant and Poulsard Blanc.

From this modest sized domaine they create a mind boggling 40+ cuvées. However, partly through necessity (low yields, frost and hail) and partly through sheer experimentalism, the pair also make a number of negociant wines using grapes from friends in other regions, including Burgundy, the Ardeche, Alsace and Beaujolais.

The Ganevat's are keen observers of biodynamic practice and since 2006 have completely cut out the use of sulphur dioxide at any part of vinification, believing that the resulting wines are better, fresher and the truest expression of terroir. Amongst the vines, a full time team of 15 people tend to the fruit, meticulously pruning, using reed tools during harvest to destem, ensuring each grape is perfect. The cellar is kept spotless (wise lessons learnt from Albert Marc Morey) but without the use of any cleaning products, just water to avoid contaminating the grapes. An array of containers are used for fermentation: demi-muids (600 litre casks), larger tronconic casks, and since 2014, unlined clay amphoras from Italy. Couple this with elite knowledge of specific elevage for differing cuvées, depending on grape variety, terroir and the desired wine. As he puts it: the bigger the vessel, the slower the fermentation, the better it is for the wine.    

With such attention to detail and genius curation, it is no wonder that the wines of Anne & Jean-François Ganevat are so good. Weightless and lengthy, they are both admired and adored around the world. In 2018 Jean-François was awarded La Revue de Vin de France's Winemaker of the Year, an achievement he laughs off, but thoroughly deserves. A truly larger than life character making larger than life wines.