09 Ganevat Chardonnay Chalasses & Grands Teppes: Who Needs a Computer When You Make Great Wine?

Posted by Joe Salamone

Jura's Uncompromising Master
Ganevat Chardonnay
Les Grands Teppes & Les Chalasses
A Tale of Two Terroirs

It seems that almost overnight Jean-Francois Ganevat has crossed the threshold from unknown to cult.

We were one of the first U.S. retailers to work with these wines - making what seemed like crazy deals for pallets of his sparkling wines, for cases upon cases of Trousseau, large parcels of his great whites.

We had the run of Ganevat's wines, basically all for ourselves.

Things have changed - Jean-Francois Ganevat has become a cult figure, albeit among a rather impassioned group of wine fanatics. Still, it's worth remembering that at one point just about every blue-chip producer was in this category... think about estates/producers like Clos Rougeard, Huet, Vatan, Fourrier, Raveneau.

And perhaps Raveneau is the most appropriate example, because as with Raveneau, Kermit Lynch is now working with Ganevat. If there's a more official "coronation" to wine world royalty, I'd don't know it.

All the hype, all the gossip and praise from Jura fanatics, the glowing praise and chatter on the wine bulletin boards - well, it's for real: Ganevat is one of the most intriguing and skilled winemakers working today. This is not an exaggeration.

Ganevat is simply a force of nature; he is uncompromising. Here's a person who's against computers and doesn't own one. He handles all business over the phone or fax machine.

It goes without saying that the strength of his personality spills over into his vineyard and cellar work. Ganevat works only 8.5ha and yet makes between thirty-five to forty different wines in a vintage. The yields from his biodynamically tended vines are insanely low - often in the teens or even single digits.

Today, we explore the wisdom of Ganevat's micro-plot bottling with his two finest terroirs, Chardonnay Les Chalasses and Chardonnay Les Grands Teppes. These bottlings represent subtle changes in soil type - Grands Teppes is a white marl plot and Chalasses is a blue marl plot.

Like much of Ganevat's holdings, these represent very old vines. Chalasses includes a sizeable portion of Chardonnay vines that date from 1902; Grands Teppes boasts Chardonnay vines from 1919. Both wines show intense concentration that results from the combination of old vines and low yields and yet, for all their density they show a finesse, a vigorous acid backbone.

Of the two sites, Chalasses is the more elegant, direct and precise. Grands Teppes in contrast is a wine of depth and power. Chalesses tends to show gentle shadings of spicy herbs and medicinal roots; Grands Teppes leads with stone fruits and sweet herbs. Both wines are animated by moss-strewn notes, minerals and layered notes a marmalade of various citrus fruits.

Trying to decide which of Ganevat's many wines is most impressive has always impressed me as futile. The winemaking here is just too rigorous and the lineup is too strong. However, Ganevat's work with Chardonnay is very, very compelling and without peer in the Jura. These are wines of regal intensity and decided soil expression. One has to suspect that Ganevat's working in Burgundy for a decade with Pierre Morey before returning to his familiy's domaine is at least partially responsible.

This is an immensely fascinating domaine and it's unfortunate that there's not enough space to convey its originality and conviction. You're encouraged to look here for a better sense. For now, let's just say that it's very heartening to see that Ganevat has the ambition to pursue wines of such rigor and quality in such an obscure corner of the wine world as the Jura.

An unfortunate result of Ganevat's recent celebrity is that these wines are even more limited than in the past. When you do the math (very low yields, multiple bottlings and only 8.5ha) you can imagine just how tight availability is. Please give us your maximum order, and we'll do our best to allocate fairly.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits