Jura

Jean-François Ganevat

The Jura Originalist

Over the past decade, the world’s love affair with the idiosyncratic wines of the Jura has brought unprecedented attention to this remote region of eastern France. And as a result, the Jura’s top growers have become icons for the ancient pedigree, singular character and sheer brilliance of their wines.

And no other Jura vigneron’s star has risen faster than that of Jean-François Ganevat. Through the diversity, originality and sheer brilliance of his wines, he’s drawn comparison to the likes of Coche, Jayer and Dagueneau as a producer whose wines transcend their appellations.

Even more startling is the range of wines he makes: more than forty cuvées, each individual in character but highly consistent in quality. Such an achievement can be explained only by the lengths to which Ganevat is willing to go.

What other grower destems individual grapes by hand with scissors, to make certain that each berry is intact? Who else farms forty distinct plots spread over only 8.5 hectares and then vinifies them separately, giving each their own highly individualized élévage?

It doesn't end there. To fully express each terroir, Jean-François has planted 45 different ancient indigenous grapes among the appellation-approved varieties. And he uses eight people including himself—one person per hectare—to ensure that the labor-intensive biodynamic farming of each site is done perfectly.

Simplicity in the Cellar

As Ganevat considers his viticulture by far the most important aspect of his work, he keeps his vinification and aging simple, but with no less an attention to detail. His fermentations are long, with indigenous yeasts in old demi-muids. Aging is for two or more years in the same casks for his Chardonnay and native Savagnin whites, with little or no sulfur added.

As for the reds, from Pinot Noir and the indigenous Trousseau and Poulsard, Jean-François destems completely, then ferments the whole berries à l’ancienne—utilizing carbonic maceration as in Beaujolais—and then aging in neutral barrels.

And unlike many others in the Jura, he keeps the barrels for most of his white cuvées carefully topped up to avoid oxidation, as he believes that gives the purest expression of his numerous terroirs.

Steeped in Burgundy

Jean-François is the 14th generation to work his family's land at La Combe in the southernmost part of the Côtes du Jura, and he learned at his father's side from 1982 until 1989.

But it was in Burgundy that he gained a formal wine education, first at the oenology school in Beaune and then as cellarmaster at one of Chassagne-Montrachet's finest domaines, Jean-Marc Morey.

Jean-François was therefore uniquely equipped when he took charge of the domaine in 1998. But, while his wines have a Burgundian finesse, their personalities are quintessentially Jura. Thanks to a high average vine age, differences in soil and JeanFrançois' tailoring of élévage to each site, they are like no others.

Beyond His Own Vines

Due to drastically reduced yields in recent vintages, Jean-François is now sourcing additional fruit from other growers with fine terroirs. And the results remind us that great winemakers—who are also great judges of terroir—can make stunning wine regardless of vineyard ownership.

Bruno Giacosa did it throughout his fabled career, most notably in the 1960s and 1970s when every wine he made was from purchased fruit.

The Conternos also did it prior to 1978, when every Monfortino was from someone else’s grapes. And throughout Champagne’s history, the great prestige cuvées have been made, almost without exception, from a marriage of purchased and domaine-grown grapes.

Ganevat has joined this noble, time-honored tradition, further enriching a Jura portfolio that is second to none.

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