The Labet family of Rotalier in the area south of Lons-le-Saunier, known as the Sud Revermont, have been making thoughtful wines for generations, but it was Alain Labet that elevated the estate to an icon of low-intervention and organic practices, and one that followed the Bourgogne tradition of topping up barrels. His eldest son, Julien, continued and expanded on the minimal intervention track, certifying the old-vine vineyards to organics (2010), and incorporating animals into their vineyard management program. Along with his siblings Charline (a trained oenologist), and Romain (a viticulturist), Julien is directing the next-gen of Labet wines. I tasted these two striking wines a couple of weeks ago, and they haven’t left my mind since.
Domaine Labet Chardonnay la Reine 2016, Jura, France
La Reine is 1947-planted old massale selected vines at 260m altitude, sloping north, and rooted deep into calcareous clay red soils. After a native ferment in barrique, this aged for 18 months in the same, with light battonage. This powerful wine is complete, with waves of gentle reduction, and pillows of downy lees interwoven with giant flake salts, green apple edginess, lemon pith, and ample riveting acidity balancing off its prominent structure, finishing with a saline rinse. Greyhound sleek and inherently memorable, this is drinking beautifully now, and will cellar. Wow. 94/100
Domaine Labet la Bardette 2016, Jura, France
This beauty Chardonnay from the prized limestone-laced, clay-clad La Bardette vineyard needs time to open and reveal itself. After pressing with stems and setting the juice, this native fermented in older wood for ten months with full MLF, before remaining in the vessels for 18 months on lees with light battonage. It was bottled without racking, fining, or filtration. Potent and upfront reduction lures on the nose of this wine, positively vibrating with electricity. Wild herbs, meadow grasses, flake salts, lemon pith, fill a palate chiselled with firm acidity. Serious, youthful, and intellectually and instinctively moreish, this still-young wine appears closed at first opening. Do as we did, and taste over a few hours, to allow the wine to show itself. A real stunner, and one I wish I had in my cellar. 95/100
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com