This time on Jura. Mostly very natural stuff, yet stylistically the wines were all over the place, ranging from ridiculously natty and undrinkable to the pure and classic wines of Ganevat, where you really can't even taste how the wines are actually made in an entirely hands-off fashion.
The top wines of the evening were quite unanimously those by Puffeney and Ganevat, although Labet and Caveau de Bacchus certainly were trailing right behind the best ones. Domaine de l'Octavin, on the other hand, continues to be a producer I abhor. Although some of their wines can sometimes be quite enjoyable, all too often they are just undrinkably mousy, aggressively acetic and through-and-through natty.
- 2018 Domaine Bienaimé Le Chardonnay de Bruno Bienaimé - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (20.8.2020)
The second vintage of Bruno Bienaimé and the very first vintage of this particular cuvée. Fermented spontaneously, aged for 11 months in oak barrels, bottled unfiltered on July 10th 2019. Total production 1942 bottles. 12,6% alcohol.
Hazy, pale yellow-green color. Quite wild, somewhat funky and slightly waxy nose with aromas of ripe apricot, some leathery funk, light crunchy white-fruited notes, a little bit of banana and a leesy hint of yeast. The wine smells quite sauvage, but not yet natty. The wine is crisp, medium-bodied and very intense with dry, tangy flavors of lemony citrus fruits and key lime, some bretty funk, light bitter notes of apple skin, a hint of herbal spice and a candied touch of gummi bear suggesting more ripeness than is immediately obvious. The bracing acidity lends an electric and almost nervous feel to the wine. The finish is crisp, tart and lemony with intense flavors of tangy green apples, some herbal bitterness, light saline mineral tones, a little bit of fresh and crunchy white fruits and a subtly rough hint of acetic VA.
A somewhat wild and funky but also very crisp, fresh and poised Jura Chardonnay with tremendous energy and ripping acidity. This definitely isn't squeaky-clean in style, but fortunately it isn't excessively natty and overwhelmingly funky either. Most likely the wine is just too young for its own good now and will perform better after it has had a few years in a cellar just to settle down. Promising.
- 2017 Domaine Labet Chardonnay Côtes du Jura Lias - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (20.8.2020)
An ouillé single-vineyard Jura Chardonnay from 35-80 yo vines. Aged for 21 months in 228-liter oak pièces, bottled on 21st of June, 2019. 13,5% alcohol, 5,8 g/l acidity, pH 3,2 and <20 mg/l SO2.
Youthful, pale lime green color. Ripe, intense and somewhat leesy nose with rather tangy aromas of crunchy white fruits, some guava, light creamy notes of oak, a little bit of plantain, a leesy hint of yeast and a touch of sweet oak spice. The wine is crisp, lean and medium-bodied on the palate with sharp flavors of tart lemony citrus fruits and tangy green apples, some sappy herbal bitterness, light creamy notes of oak, a little bit of steely minerality, nuanced hints of vanilla and a touch of chalky bitterness. The bracing, super-high acidity lends tremendous energy to the wine and makes it feel very focused and refreshing. The finish is crisp, tangy and very long with lively flavors of pronounced salinity, tart green apples, some key lime, a little bit of creamy oak, light steely mineral tones, a hint of vanilla and a touch of sappy herbs.
A super-young, lean and racy Chardonnay made in a non-oxidative ouillé style, all about sharp lemony citrus fruit tones and tangy salinity. There's some obvious oak influence, but to such a light degree that it never overwhelms any finer nuances. Although the wine shows tremendous focus and freshness, it feels a bit too nervous and tightly-wound at the moment, coming across as high-strung as a violin string. There's tons of potential here, but I'd leave the wine in a cellar for at least a few years - if not more - just to let it unwind a little and pick up some additional complexity on the way. Fine stuff, recommended.
- 2017 Jean-François Ganevat Victor de la Combe - France, Vin de France (20.8.2020)
A négociant Chardonnay made with fruit from Saint-Véran (50%), Pouilly-Fuissé (35%) and Jura (15%). Aged for 2 years in oak foudres. Bottled without any fining, filtration or SO2. The label doesn't say anything about the vintage, the lot number is L17-18. 12,5% alcohol.
Youthful, pale lime-green color; the first glasses are crystal-clear, the final ones are quite hazy - recommended to decant off the deposit. The nose feels ripe, somewhat waxy and slightly sweet-toned with aromas of leesy creaminess, some sweet golden apples, light mineral notes of wet rocks, a hint of fresh yellow fruits and a touch of crunchy citrus fruits. The wine is sharp, medium-bodied and quite saline on the palate with intense flavors of tart green apples, some grapefruit, light lemony tones, a little bit of sour apple candy, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of herbal bitterness. The wine is quite lean and very fresh, but comes across pretty focused and intense rather than thin and neutral. Intense, high acidity. The finish is crisp, long and rather lean with intense flavors of lemony citrus fruits and tangy Granny Smith apple, some tart key lime, a little bit of leesy creaminess, light chalky bitter notes and a hint of sappy green herbs.
A crisp, lean and rather straightforward Chardonnay made in a very refreshing, acid-driven style. Otherwise very tasty, but perhaps a bit too youthful and linear at the moment. The wine is so lean, electric and high-strung that it could use at least a few more years in a cellar so that it could settle down a bit and gain some depth while it's at it.
- 2015 Jean-François Ganevat Grusse en Billat - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (20.8.2020)
A naturalist ouillé single-vineyard Jura Chardonnay made with biodynamically farmed estate fruit from a vineyard planted in 1960. Vinified with a strict hands-off philosophy. Aged for 3 years in oak barrels on the lees. Bottled without fining, filtration or SO2. 14% alcohol.
Quite concentrated and deep yellow-green color. The first glasses are crystal-clear, the final ones are slightly hazy - recommended to decant off the deposit. The nose feels cool and markedly restrained with some leesy notes of creaminess and rather understated nuances of sweet golden apples, some grated citrus zest, a little bit of mineral spice and a hint of flint smoke. Not a lot of things going on here. The wine is concentrated, very focused and rather full-bodied on the palate with youthful and somewhat restrained flavors of ripe lemony citrus fruits, some tangy green apples, light concentrated stone fruit tones, a little bit of stony minerality, a hint of sea salt and a touch of spicy red apple. The wine is very high in acidity, but the acidity doesn't come across as sharp or incisive, instead blending together with the concentrated fruit and body. The finish is long, mineral and quite saline with light yet intense flavors of ripe meyer lemon, some wild waxy tones, a little bit of barely ripe pineapple, light herbal spice and a hint of stony minerality.
A rather closed and very mineral Chardonnay that shows the concentration and power typical of Ganevat's estate wine, but otherwise comes across as quite understated, showing more minerality than fruit or other nuances. There's a lot of potential here, but as a whole the wine feels like a sleeper, hanging now in a somewhat dumb phase. Texturally or structure-wise the wine really doesn't need any additional aging, as it is drinking wonderfully right now, but aromatically the wine really could benefit from additional aging - I'd leave the wine for at least another 5-8 years, just to let the closed fruit have enough time to open. Decanting is recommended, both to let the wine open up and to get it off the deposit - unless one wants hazy last glasses.
- 2016 Jean-François Ganevat Petit Curoulet - France, Jura, Arbois (20.5.2020)
A naturalist ouillé Jura Savagnin made with purchased, biodynamically farmed fruit. Vinified with a strict hands-off philosophy. Aged for 2 years in oak barrels on the lees. Bottled without fining, filtration or SO2. 13% alcohol.
Youthful, moderately deep and quite concentrated lime-green color with golden yellow highlights. Open, juicy and quite sweet-toned nose that is surprisingly open for business for a Ganevat this young; aromas of nectarine, some applesauce, light leesy notes of creaminess, a little bit of toasty nuttiness and a subtly waxy hint of funky sauvage character. The wine is ripe, rich and medium-bodied on the palate with intense, dry flavors of lemony citrus fruits, some creamy notes of panna cotta, light autolytic notes of brioche or custard pastry, light green apple tones, a hint of steely minerality and a sweet touch of ripe white peach. The overall feel is quite characterful, nuanced and still very youthful. The very high acidity keeps the wine wonderfully precise and lends it tremendous sense of structure. The mouth-watering finish is very long, bright and tangy with intense flavors of saline minerality, tart green apples, some leesy creaminess, light bitter notes of apple peel, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of nectarine.
A fine, precise and enormously attractive Savagnin that is still very youthful, yet at the same time surprisingly open and accessible for a Ganevat this young; normally these wines need years more before they start to open up. Lots of layers and nuances here, all backed up by tremendous dose of acidity. Wonderfully balanced and harmonious overall feel. Drinking quite well now, but will continue to improve for years more. Highly recommended.
- 2015 Philippe Bornard Savagnin Côtes du Jura Ouillé Les Chassagnes - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (20.8.2020)
A single-vineyard Savagnin from lieu-dit Les Chassagnes. The wine is "ouillé" aka. "filled", i.e. it is aged for a long time in oak barrels, but the barrel is topped up so that the wine does not turn oxidative, like the traditional "non-ouillé" wines. 13,5% alcohol - weirdly, since the last time I had this wine and this vintage, it clocked at 11,5%.
Youthful, slightly hazy lime-green color. Sweetish, somewhat funky and slightly weird nose with aromas of bruised green apples, some peach, light creamy tones, a little bit of waxy wild character, a hint of ocean air and a flatulent touch of skunky reduction. The wine is crisp, lean and lively on the palate with a light-to-medium body and precise flavors of pink grapefruit, some pomelo, light lemony citrus fruit tones, a little bit of pithy bitterness, mineral hints of cold steel and chalk dust and a leesy touch of creaminess. The bracing acidity lends tremendous intensity and sense of structure to the wine. The finish is crisp, lean and slightly bitter on the palate with flavors of pink grapefruit and pomelo pith, some tart lemony citrus notes, a little bit of Granny Smith apple, light notes of herbal spice, a hint of tangy salinity and a touch of steely minerality.
A crisp, lean and wonderfully fresh Savagnin that is all about acidity and minerality. The nose felt slightly odd, especially at first upon opening, but the wine itself was just pure and enormously attractive on the palate. Despite its 5 years of age, the wine is still so very youthful, high-strung and still in dire need of further aging. Unlike the same wine I had 3½ years ago (which was 11,5% ABV instead of 13,5%), this felt even leaner and dried in taste. I wonder if this wine had been bottled in multiple batches and the first one had slightly more residual sugar? It sounds somewhat implausible that these wine would've been from the same batch, since a difference of 2% ABV would mean the first one would've had 30-40 g/l residual sugar, and it definitely didn't taste like that. Really a mystery wine. Well, no matter what the ABV is in the label, this is pretty terrific stuff. Recommended.
- 2017 Domaine de L'Octavin Ivre de Vivre - France, Vin de France (20.8.2020)
A white wine made with Viognier grapes sourced from Jean-Francois Debourg, farming organically in Bully, Beaujolais. Direct-pressed, fermented spontaneously and aged for 9 months in tanks, bottled in late May 2018. The lot number says Lvign17, so this is vintage 2017. 13,5% alcohol.
Somewhat cloudy yellow-orange color. Wild, fragrant and sweet-toned nose with aromas of heady wild flowers, some beeswax, light notes of ripe orange, a little bit of resinous phenolic character, a hint of nuttiness and a touch of musky perfume. Quite lovely, actually - lacking the usual funk and VA typical of l'Octavin. The wine is dry, wild and moderately full-bodied on the palate with somewhat funky flavors of perfumed flowers, some bruised apple and apricot tones, light rich notes of lemon marmalade, a little bit of stony minerality, a hint of tangy salinity and a touch of phenolic spice. The moderately high acidity lends good sense of freshness and intensity to the wine. The finish is long, wild and somewhat saline with tangy flavors of ripe orange, some apricot, a little bit of green apple, light sharp notes of meyer lemon and a resinous hint of phenolic spice.
An obviously natural little Viognier with a somewhat funky edge. However, as so many l'Octavin wines I've had have been excessively funky, too acetic or just plain mousy, this was surprisingly balanced and thoroughly enjoyable for what it is - a very sauvage take on Viognier. Pretty good and very idiosyncratic - although I might have problems in coming up with what to pair with a wine like this.
- 2010 Domaine de Saint Pierre Savagnin de Voile - France, Jura, Arbois (20.8.2020)
A wine that falls in-between white wine and Vin Jaune: this is a Savagnin made from organically farmed grapes, aged in barrels sour voile for 50 months (not the 75 months required of Vin Jaune) before bottling. 13% alcohol.
Medium-deep yellow-green color. Really weird and characterful nose - and this is in the context of sous voile wines, since this wine was tasted in a Jura tasting - with instantly recognizable aroma of bouillon cube, followed by lighter aromas of roasted walnuts, some mushroomy notes of porcini, light smoky tones, a little bit of beef jerky, a hint of dog food and a touch of curry. This is definitely recognizable as an oxidatively made Jura white, but those robust meaty aromas really threw me off. The wine is firm, medium-bodied and slightly crisp on the palate with rather concentrated flavors of lemony citrus fruits, stony mineral notes, some tart green apples, light umami notes of consommé, light tangy nuances of aldehydic salinity and chopped green almonds, a mushroomy hint of porcini and a touch of pink grapefruit. The noticeably high acidity lends great sense of freshness and intensity to the wine. The long finish is crisp, tangy and precise with intense flavors of lemony citrus fruits, aldehydic salinity, some pithy grapefruit bitterness, light meaty notes of bouillon, an umami hint of fried mushrooms and a touch of smoke.
A bright and firm but also somewhat odd sous voile Savagnin that is not just tangy and aldehydic, but also surprisingly meaty with pronounced notes of bouillon cubes and dog food - aromas I normally don't associate with the oxidative Jura whites. Nevertheless, this is good stuff. Somewhat weird, but good. Perhaps those aromas will integrate or disappear over the years, so perhaps it's best to let this wine age further - at least it shows tremendous aging potential. A nice oxidative Jura wine with a twist.
- NV Jacques Puffeney Arbois Cuvée Sacha - France, Jura, Arbois (20.8.2020)
Typically this is a NV blend of younger Chardonnay (about 2/3) and older Savagnin (1/3). I have no idea of the vintages here, the lot number says L-SCH004. 13% alcohol.
Luminous, medium-deep yellow-green color. Fragrant, seductive and somewhat oxidative nose with complex, subtly sweet-toned aromas of fresh peachy fruit, some aldehydic notes of green almonds and sorrel, a little bit of smoke and nuttiness, light lifted notes of ethery VA, a mushroomy hint of fried funnel mushrooms and a mineral touch of stone dust. The wine is dry, firm and quite concentrated on the palate with very intense flavors of lemony citrus fruits, aldehydic notes of green almonds and tangy salinity, some sweet Golden Delicious apple, light sappy notes of birch leaves, a little bit of pink grapefruit, a mushroomy hint of umami and a touch of savory, oxidative nuttiness. The bracing acidity lends wonderful sense of structure and almost electric intensity to the wine. The finish is crisp, racy and quite saline with intense flavors of tart lemony citrus fruits and sharp green apple tones, some aldehydic notes of sorrel and green almonds, a little bit of pink grapefruit, light umami notes of fried mushrooms, a hint of steely minerality and a touch of oxidative nuttiness.
A beautiful, impressively complex and remarkably precise Jura white made in the traditional oxidative style. Has a somewhat Vin Jaune feel to it, but comes across as slightly less substantial and more youthful, fruitier in style, emphasizing minerality, precision and freshness over the more oxidative and aldehydic qualities of Vins Jaunes. While I don't have any idea how old this wine is, it feels very youthful and quite high-strung at the moment. Although the wine is very much drinkable at the moment, it seems like it is more about future potential than immediate pleasure. Will reward further aging. Good value at 45€.
- NV Domaine de L'Octavin Charlot - France, Vin de France (20.8.2020)
A red wine made with Merlot from 2016 vintage (85%) sourced from Thierry Goult (Domaine de la Saulsaie), farming in Carcassonne, blended with Molette (11%) and Muscat (4%) from 2018. Merlot macerated for 30 days. All grapes fermented spontaneously. Blended together in April 2018 and left to age for a few months, bottled in June 2018. The lot number says Merl16Chi17. 12% alcohol.
Dark, moderately translucent and slightly hazy blackish-red color. Sweet, rich and extremely wild nose that is screaming mousiness already here. Aromas of wizened cherries, some volatile notes of ether, a little bit of toasted sesame seeds, light strawberry notes and a hint of basmati rice. Not particularly attractive, if you ask me. The wine is medium-bodied, very wild and quite crunchy on the palate with flavors of tart lingonberries, sweet volatile notes of ether and nail polish, some cranberry sauce, a little bit of stony minerality, light mousy notes of sesame seeds and stale bread and an acetic hint of vinegary VA. High in acidity with slightly grippy tannins. The finish is tart, long and mousy with flavors of tart lingonberries, some rancid nuts, a little bit of sour cherry bitterness bordering on quinine, light acetic notes of VA, a hint of crunchy cranberry and a touch of stale bread.
Ugghhh. A catastrophe of a wine. Normally mousiness hits you only in the aftertaste, but this wine was obviously mousy before you even had the first taste. I'd mark this wine as flawed/defective, but since I suspect all the wines are going to be exactly like this, this isn't a defective bottle - this is how the wine is supposed to be like. Horrible. Avoid. (53 pts.)
- 2017 Carlito Yavol - France, Vin de France (20.8.2020)
A blend of co-planted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Poulsard, Savagnin and Trousseau. All co-fermented together spontaneously with indigenous yeasts, macerated with the skins for 6 weeks, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Aged in old oak barrels over the winter. No indication of vintage in the label, just lot number "17". 11% alcohol.
Pale, thin reddish-orange color with a broad, colorless rim. Wild, funky and slightly dirty nose with aromas of orange rind, some crunchy cranberry, light mousy notes of basmati rice and a fusel-y hint of grappa. The wine is crisp, wild and light-bodied on the palate with very sauvage flavors of ripe redcurrants, some acetic roughness, a little bit of sour cherry bitterness, light earthy tones, a hint of crunchy cranberry and a touch of strawberry sweetness. Very high in acidity with no tannins to speak of. The finish is short, somewhat rough in throat with acetic VA and somewhat mousy with flavors of nut skin, stale bread, some crunchy cranberry, a little bit of redcurrant, light sappy notes of unripe red fruits and a touch of toasted sesame seeds.
Meh. The idea of having red and white grapes co-fermented together to make a crisp, pale red is great, but the idea falls rather short as the wine is almost undrinkable because of its rather heavily acetic VA character and quite light but still rather unpleasant mousiness that distracts from the pleasure quite a bit. I wished this was a wine I'd enjoy, but unfortunately this tastes more like ideology than proper winemaking. Pass.
- 2015 Caveau de Bacchus Arbois Réserve du Caveau Cuvée des Géologues "229" - France, Jura, Arbois (20.8.2020)
The neck label says "Réserve du Caveau, Cuvée des Géologues", but the wine is labeled as "Trousseau 229" in the back label. Fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts in old Alsatian foudres, macerated with the skins for whopping 229 days. 14% alcohol.
Luminous, translucent cherry red color with a thin, pale red rim. Quite rich yet not particularly powerful nose with slightly sweet-toned aromas of wizened cherries, some wild strawberries, light meaty nuances, a little bit of rose hips, a subtly liqueur-ish hint of VA and a touch of savory spices. The wine is lively, angular and somewhat stern on the palate with a medium body and savory flavors of crunchy cranberries and tart lingonberries, some sour cherry bitterness, a little bit of wizened dark fruit, light waxy notes of funk, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of tangy salinity. You'd expect a wine macerated for 229 days (7,5 months) by very tightly-knit and tannic, but the structure here lies surprisingly on the high acidity, as the grainy, textural tannins are surprisingly soft and gentle. The finish is long, moderately bitter and only slightly grippy with savory flavors of crunchy cranberries and tart lingonberries, some meaty notes of bloody game, light saline tones, a little bit of stony minerality, a hint of sour cherry and a touch of leathery funk.
A very lovely, sophisticated and attractive Trousseau with a somewhat stern and angular, yet not forbidding or too tightly-knit character that manages to be both quite muscular and wonderfully drinkable at the same time. The overall feel is still very youthful and even somewhat linear and I can imagine this will continue to improve for many more years. Great stuff, good value at 39€.
- 2018 Domaine des Cavarodes (Etienne Thiébaud) Arbois Trousseau de Messagelin - France, Jura, Arbois (20.8.2020)
A single-vineyard Trousseau from the biodynamically farmed Messagelin vineyard. Fermented spontaneously semi-carbonically in fiberglass vats. Aged for 10 months in neutral oak. Bottled without any fining, filtration or sulfites. 13,5% alcohol.
Deep, youthful, slightly translucent purplish-red color. Big, juicy and vibrant nose with fruity aromas of blueberries and dark plums, some funky sauvage tones, light rustic animale aromas, a little bit of earthy sous-bois, a sweet hint of volatile lift and a touch of blackberry jam. You can smell the wine is pretty natural in style, but it doesn't smell excessively natty in any way. The wine is ripe, juicy and moderately full-bodied on the palate with rather primary flavors of boysenberries and wild strawberries, some sweet black cherries, light notes of blood and meaty umami, a little bit of barnyard funk and slightly acetic VA, a saline hint of aldehydic tang and a touch of tart lingonberry. The overall feel is very balanced and quite structured with its high acidity and firm medium tannins. The finish is primary yet quite dry and savory with subtly funky notes of ripe black cherries, some boysenberries, light brambly notes of raspberries, a little bit of aldehydic salinity, a hint of tart lingonberry and a volatile touch of acetic roughness in the throat. The aftertaste ends on a subtly nutty note of nut skins, hinting at the possibility of the wine becoming mousy with air.
A youthful, ripe and juicy Trousseau with a lot of succulent stuffing. The wine certainly has a funky naturalist edge, but unlike some Cavarodes wines I've had previously, this isn't super-natty, but instead quite pure and clean in style. I could do without the slightly acetic roughness, but fortunately the ripe fruit carries it quite well. Based on the subtly nutty note the wine ends with, I'd encourage to drink the wine quite quickly after popping the bottle open, since there's always the risk that the wine will turn mousy with air. However, when it comes to cellaring, this wine shows good potential for future development, so there's definitely no hurry in popping these open.
- NV Jean-François Ganevat Sul Q - France, Vin de France (20.8.2020)
Made with grapes (a blend of anciens cépages) raisined for 5 months sur paille, vinified and bottled without any sulfites - rare for any wine with residual sugar! Lot 1002 (so perhaps this is vintage 2002?). 12,5% alcohol.
Haze brownish-yellow color with a reddish-bronze hue to the core. The nose feels sweet, somewhat restrained and very evolved with aromas of roasted nuts, some syrupy molasses, light bruised apple tones, a little bit of sweet VA, a hint of Weetabix and a touch of caramel. The wine is concentrated, complex and very sweet on the palate with intense flavors of syrupy molasses, some chopped nuts, a little bit of dried dates, light caramel tones, a hint of bruised apple and a sweet touch of liqueur-ish VA. The mouthfeel is rather sticky, but not ponderous - thanks to the remarkably fresh and racy acidity. The finish is very long, sticky and concentrated with intense flavors of maple syrup, some roasted nuts, a little bit of dried dates, light bruised apple tones, a hint of canned pineapple and a touch of peanut butter.
A wonderfully evolved, concentrated and remarkably intense vin de paille - and a remarkable experience to taste a sweet wine vinified without any sulfites coming across so harmonious even after prolonged aging. Lovely complexity. Most likely the wine won't evolve much or at all from here - seeing how developed it is at the moment - but I doubt the wine is going to fall apart anytime soon. Solid value at 45€ for a 0,375 bottle.