Andrew Guard


I never cease to be fascinated by the wines from France’s Jura region. This small winemaking area located to the east of Burgundy is home to some of the most remarkable and unique wines being made anywhere in the world.

La Combe; a tiny hamlet above the village of Rotalier is home to the larger-than-life “Fan Fan” Jean-François Ganevat. Jean-François came back to run the family estate in 1998 after ten years working Burgundy and he combines his passion for the Jura terroir – here ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - with a staunch defence of Burgundian techniques; low yields and most recently biodynamic methods for which he has now gained Demeter certification.

Rotalier is in the southern half of the Jura region and so all of the Ganevat's vines are located in the Cotes du Jura AOC, the biggest of the few AOCs in the Jura with 700 hectares. The winery produces a multitude of wines from Savagnin, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Poulsard, and Trousseau. The majority are produced using a method referred to in the Jura as “ouillé”. Winemakers in the Jura make the choice of producing their white wines using either the “ouillé” or “sous-voile” method (Vin Jaune must be made sous-voile). “Ouillé” means that the barrels are topped up as the wine ages. This is the normal practice throughout the world of wine, and prevents the wine from slowly oxidizing in the barrel. In contrast, a wine made using the “sous-voile” method is not topped up in the barrel. As a result, a thin layer of yeast forms on the top of the wine, which the Jura winemakers refer to as the “voile” or veil. This prevents the wine from turning into vinegar in the barrel, and allows it to slowly age and develop a range of unique flavors, including the nuttiness and spices that are so pronounced in Vin Jaune. In the case of Domaine Ganevat, most of the wines are made in the “ouillé” (topped up) style.

These wines are truly brilliant and have clarity and intensity as cornerstones – his Chardonnays are quite unbelievable in their intensity and vigour. His red wines from Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard are delicate, graceful and incredibly pure tasting with lovely harmony and dimension.

This is an amazing estate that can’t keep up with demand and like Emmanuel Houillon, these are incredibly rare. I have a reservation of a small quantity of the wines due to come in autumn and have also reserved ahead the next vintage but it is tough to battle for an allocation here when it seems that all the Sommeliers in Europe are also patiently waiting at the end of Fan-Fan’s pipette...


Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012