Wine of the Year #2: Joe's Pick
2009 Ganevat Pinot Noir Cuvée Julien
Or, "Why I Care About Wine in the First Place."
Jean-François Ganevat is one of the most admirable and skillful winemakers I know. He pulls out all the stops, spares no expense, treats his vines in a marginal region of the wine world with a level of dedication and reverence usually reserved for the most exalted terroirs.
The results are fascinating, compelling and undeniably Wine of the Year quality.
Coming up with a WOTY is no easy matter, but over the years I've been able to slowly refine what, for me, makes a WOTY. The wine has to say something fundamental about why I care about wine, and it has to say it in a way that'sat least relatively accessible in terms of both style and price.
My choice for this year, the 2009 Ganevat Pinot Noir Cuvée Julien, may be the best example of this to date. Here is a sincere, steadfast pursuit of quality, terroir and sheer expressiveness - yet from a relatively obscure corner of the wine world.
As Eric Asimov of The New York Times raves, Ganevat’s Pinots are "gorgeous - light-bodied, lively and pure pleasure to drink." We agree. With age (say five to ten years), these can assume a Chambolle-like quality: ethereal perfume and finesse with a firm, concentrated backbone.
This is Pinot Noir with a shimmering, pristine clarity that betrays the lavish and nearly maniacal attention Ganevat bestows upon his wines and vines. This is the kind of bottle that makes me grateful that wine, in general, exists.
Today we're able to offer it at as low as $29.95 a bottle on the six-pack.
I've been tasting the Cuvée Julien since the 04 vintage, and I've long held it to be the epitome of Jura reds: more pure, fragrant and brisk with a textured mineral quality compared to its Burgundian counterparts. In 09, a vintage of beautifully ripe and healthy grapes, Ganevat hit a level of concentration and silken complexity that rocketed this straight into WOTY territory. At under $30.
What's more is that this Pinot originates from the obscure region of Jura, where Ganevat works in an even more obscure little hamlet of Rotalier named Lacombe.
The fact that someone here would pursue quality the way that Ganevat has is something to be applauded, to say the least. Stay with me while I expound for a moment...
Exhibit A: Plenty of very well-run estates larger than Ganevat's employ just one or two people. Ganevat, however, employs eight people full time.
Exhibit B: Ganevat farms biodynamically and restricts vines to miniscule yields - sometimes as low as single digits.
Exhibit C: From his 8.5 hectares, Ganevat reportedly makes 35-40 different cuvées isolating the most minute differences of soil. On my visit in July, I got through 20 different wines before the three hours I allotted for the meeting were up.
And the red wine that stood out most from that (awesome) marathon tasting was the 09 Cuvée Julien. Sourced from vines planted in 1951 and 1977 on limestone-rich clay soils, there's agility and raciness belying its concentration and multifaceted nature. There's a delicious gulpable quality here, but it's not just that; this is also backed with elegance and subtle depths of layered mineral, mountain flowers and bright red fruits.
This is WELL worth trying for any "new" or "old" world Pinot-lover, and well worth collecting for anyone whose cellar is otherwise full of Musigny or Chambertin.
One last thought: Ganevat's terroir-obsession can in fact perhaps be explained by the ten years he spent working in Burgundy before returning to his family's domaine in 1998. However, at least equal credit is due to his uncompromising temperament. Case in point: Ganevat doesn't own a computer - he simply doesn't believe in them. All orders are phoned or faxed in, and Ganevat seems to get to them whenever he feels like it.
Considering this uncompromising philosophy and the wine's inherent quality, today's pricing is a bargain. I liked this wine so much that I took ALL that was available to the U.S., so there's no compare-at pricing available in the country. Through the holidays, while the wine is still in stock, I'd advise that you stock up. This is a great opportunity to get in on a benchmark Jura producer as he's just coming into the spotlight.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463 to place your order.
Crush Wine & Spirits
2009 Ganevat Pinot Noir Cuvée Julien
Ganevat is pre-arrival, expected early 2011
NET | No further discount