What a story this bottle of natural wine from the Jura tells…
It’s an inspired education in the detailed simplicity of biodynamic winemaking. And a cultural nod to the ancient tradition of field blends emphasizing the dominance of place over the individuality of the grape as the true signature of terroir.
The wonder of this wine is in its drinking pleasure. Round and fresh with a crisp mouth. Spicy red fruits, snappy tannins and a savory effervescence that is clean, alive and memorable. This is a rustic palate with natural crispness and uncannily refined.
Jean-François Ganevat is the iconoclastic Jura winemaker responsible for this natural treat. His family has been vignerons in the area for generations. He’s been making wine at his family domaine since 1998.
I’m a student of the wines of the Jura, located in east central France in the foothills of the Alps. But Ganevat is the first winemaker I’ve focused on from the southern part of the region. His vineyard is in the tiny Hamlet of La Combe above the village of Rotalier.
In the Jura there are over 40 different grape varieties grown, most indigenous to the area and quite obscure, and many cultivated only in the Jura region itself. On Ganevat’s tiny vineyard, 17 of these 40 grape varietals are grown, sometimes vinified separately for his Poulsards and Savagnins, and in the case of J’en Veux, all 17 are harvested and vinified together as a field blend.
I was first introduced to field blends, known as Gemischter Satz in Austria by young and talented winemaker Gottfried Lamprecht from the Styria region. I tasted his crisply delicious Buchertberg White field blend in Vienna last year. Gottfried is a passionate believer that field blends are the truest expression of terroir.
Field blends emphasize the dominance of the place over the grape. Ganevat’s J’en Veux is a prime example of this. With J’en Veux you are literally tasting the Hamlet of La Comb not any of the individual varietals themselves.
Understanding the taste footprint of this bottle is less about the broad stroke of an organic or biodynamic approach– even though the vineyard is Demeter certified–more about the intense care and stewardship of the grape as the vessel of the vineyard itself.
J’en Veux is truly a handmade wine. Each grape is individually destemmed with a scissors, keeping every grape intact and unbruised. This maniacal attention to detail is painfully labor intensive with a 600-kg load of grapes taking 10 people a full day just to separate and remove the stems.
Add to this care, an extended elevage (aging) and a minimum of one year in tronconic (think cone-head shaped) wooden vats. Nothing is rushed. This is a gentle process with an eye towards creating a natural product that has time to discover itself.
J’en Veux has no sulphites added at all. While the wine is certainly ‘alive’ if you keep a bottle for a few days after opened, it is pure and and balanced and technically, quite perfect.
This is a wine of spring and summer. A chilled red with purity, natural crisp taste, refreshing, food friendly and alcohol light. When I shop for vegetables on an early Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market, the fresh smells of the stalls makes me pine to cook and pair the food with a bottle of J’en Veux.
And this refreshing unique taste produced in a 100% natural way comes at a price of less than $30 a bottle.
Buy this if you can find it. Available at writing at Chambers Street Wines in TriBeCa, NYC.
Thanks to Sophie Barrett, Jura maven for recommending this bottle.
Photo credit to wineterroirs.