The wines of Jean-François Ganevat   
Visiting one of the Jura's star producers

We arrived in the small hamlet of La Combe. It was definitely the right place, but now it was time to find out exactly where we were supposed to go. I knew this would be tricky, and it was. There were lots of doors, but nowhere obvious to knock.

Ganevat La CombeThis is it! Ganevat 

Visiting Domaine Jean-François Ganevat was as much as an act of pilgrimage as I was likely to get in the wine world. I've very much enjoyed the wines, and they've become significantly emotionally too, because of where and when I've drunk them. And they now have celebrity status in the natural wine camp.

The Ganevat family have their roots in Jura. Until 1976 they raised cows as well as growing vines, but since then all the attention has been on the vineyard and cellar. Jean-François, who has built the fame of the domaine, began working alongside his father and then went to wine school, followed by a spell working with Domaine Marc Morey in Burgundy.

Nine years after he left he returned to the family estate in 1998, and has run it since. He's built the vineyard holdings up to 13 hectares  and farming is biodynamic. The largest plot is Les Chalasses (4 ha), followed by Les Grands Teppes (2 ha) and Grusse en Billat (1.8 ha). But as well as drawing on the domaine vineyards, he also makes a range of negociant bottlings that are Vin de France, and which commonly blend together wines from different regions.

The winemaking is pretty natural, and no sulfur dioxide has been used during vinification since 2006, with just small additions to Florine and Les Billats at bottling. The whites spend a long time on lees and are aged for extended periods in barrel and amphora. Typically, more than 30 cuvées are released each vintage.

The negociant cellar 

We had a 2 pm appointment with Anne Ganevat, who's the sister of Jean-François (he's away at La Paulee de Meursault the day we visit). So not knowing where to knock, I call her. I hear the phone ring and we have a brief conversation in my bad French: she'd already warned me that she didn't like to speak English. Five minutes, I'll be down. As we wait, a car draws up and three young dudes (Italian? German?) draw up and ask if this is Ganevat. They have an appointment two.

Anne comes down and takes us through to the main cellar, where the negociant wines are kept. 2017 was a disaster in the Jura because of frost, and Ganevat was hit hard. '95% of the vines were lost,' she says. 'A catastrophe.' As a result, they've made more negociant wines, spreading the net far and wide. We taste from large barrel and tank. There's a blend of Grenache and Gamay: natural, funky and fresh. Then a Macon Gamay that's supple and elegant, followed by an Alsace Riesling with good acidity and focus. Pinot Gris follows, with 10-days' maceration, with good grip and structure.  

But the real fun starts when we cross the road. In a series of adjoining houses, Ganevat has several small cellars where the domaine wines are in barrel and amphora. The 2015 vintage is looking very exciting indeed, and the few 2016s we tried were also lovely. These are my notes.

Chamois de Paradis Chardonnay 2015
Nutty and mineral with powerful creamy hints and bold lemony acidity. Beautiful stuff. Creamy, textural and with high acidity.

Chardonnay from schist, planted 1990, 2015
Textural with nice intensity. Has some richer notes but also good acidity and great energy. Lovely wine.

Cuvée Marguerite Chardonnay 2015
This comes from vines planted in greay marl in 1902, and it's only bottled in magnum. Lovely fine lemony aromatics. So mineral, pure and intense with great acidity. Very fine.

Les Grands Teppes Chardonnay 2015
Very refined with a beautiful nose. Pure and mineral with subtle nutty notes. Lovely bright lemons and spice. Mineral and structured, this is thrilling.

Les Chalasses Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay 2015
These vines were planted in 1912. Slight appley edge to the lemony nose. Intense with a salty, mineral edge to the lemony fruit. There's a hint of fino sherry here with lovely acid and minerality.

Les Grandes Teppes Vieilles Vignes 2016 (from Tuscan amphora)
Very sweetly aromatic with texture, depth and some stoniness. Sweet pear and white peach aromatics. Distinctive.

Savagnin Vert 2015
Salty, intense and mineral with high acidity. Pear, lemons, wax and nuts.

Savagnin Vert 2015 (from schist)
Nutty, waxy nose. Very structural with nice acidity. Has density. Core of apple and citrus fruit.

Bottled reds:

Ganevat De Toute Beaute Vin de France 2016
This is Gamay from Fleurie and Pinot from Jura. Vivid, fresh, spicy and reductive with lovely cherry and raspberry fruit. Tangy and bright with lovely intensity. Juicy and fresh. 92/100

Ganevat Poulsard Cuvée de l'Enfant Terrible 2016 Jura, France
Pale-ish colour. Supple and fine with sweet red cherries, some tea leaf and some herb notes. Elegant and sappy with some savoury earthy notes. 94/100

Ganevat Trousseau Plein Sud 2016 Jura, France
Really aromatic with floral red cherries and some cranberry. Lovely tart cherry and redcurrant palate with nice freshness. So pretty with good crunch, hints of wet stones, and some dried herb notes. Fruity and fresh. 94/100

Ganevat Pinot Noir En Billat 2016 Jura, France
From schist soils. Fragrant and aromatic with supple sweet cherries and a hint of earthiness, as well as nice texture and purity. Silky and fine with real prettiness. This has some depth. 93/100

Ganevat Pinot Noir Cuvée Julien 2016 Jura, France
Old vines, planted in 1949. Rich, textural and showing earth, spice and herbs as well as some pepper. A little bit wild and feral with a meaty tang. Very fine tannic structure. Beguiling wine. 94/100

Ganevat Vin Jaune 2007 Jura, France
Savagnin aged under flor. Spicy and intense with exotic nutty notes, hints of raisins and even curry spice. So complex and fine with amazing depth and length. 96/100

An older report on Ganevat's wines from 2010:

Based in the  hamlet of La Combe, Jean-François is making some incredible Jura wines from recently-certified (Demeter) biodynamic vineyards. In 1998 he returned to the family domaine after a period spent working in Burgundy, with Jean-Marc Morey. These wines are naturally made, with the reds receiving no sulfur dioxide additions, and the whites only a tiny amount. These are true terroir wines, and they are thrilling – especially the remarkable Savagnin. Not tasted here is a very well regarded Pinot Noir.

Jean-François Ganevat Savagnin Cuvée Prestige 2004
This is a multifaceted chameleon of a wine, and I really like it. It has a remarkably lively salty, minerally, tangy nose that's complex and sherried, but very fresh. The palate is lemony, herby, tangy  and intense. So fresh and bright with some appley, nutty depth. Warm, long, rich finish. 95/100

Jean-François Ganevat Chardonnay 'Grusse en Billat' 2007
Fresh, pure, taut and intense with some herby, lemony notes. Fresh and minerally. Real power and purity here with good acidity. 92/100

Jean-François Ganevat Trousseau Plein Sud 2008
Subtly spicy cherry fruit nose. The palate is fresh and quite elegant with nice acidity and lovely tannins. Light and cherryish, but structured. 91/100

Jean-François Ganevat Poulsard Vieilles Vignes 'L'Enfant Terrible' 2008
Orange/red colour. Sweet, warm, spicy nose with some roasted notes. The palate is fresh and pure with some cherry fruit backed up by complex minerally notes and high acidity. An elegant wine. 92/100

UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene 
Wines tasted: 04/10

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Older report, from May 2007:

The Jura is one of those wine regions I can’t help but be drawn to. The mountain scenery; the fact that the wines are a bit different; the unfashionable nature of some of the wine styles; the sense of place the wines possess – all these factors contribute to its appeal.

Domaine Ganevat is one of the leading producers. They have 85 year old vines and are in conversion to biodynamics. The wines are great, and they are affordable. The labels have a sort of minimalist, old fashioned chic. What more could you want?

These wines are available in the UK from Les Caves de Pyrene (

Domaine Ganevat Trousseau 2004 Côtes du Jura 
A very supple, bright style of red wine. Fresh bright cherry and berry fruit nose with a bit of greenness. The palate is elegant with some fruit sweetness and a bit of tannic structure. 90/100

Domaine Ganevat Pinot Noir 2004 Côtes du Jura
Light coloured. Smooth, bright fruit here with a hint of greenness and some cherry and red berry fruit. Light and expressive; a really attractive Pinot. 89/100

Domaine Ganevat Chardonnay Grands Teppes 2002 Côtes du Jura
Rich, full bold nose is ripe, sweet, nutty and spicy. The palate is sweetly fruited with a lovely spicy, minerally character. Long, complex and lovely. 92/100

Domaine Ganevat Chardonnay Florine 2004 Côtes du Jura
Fresh, bright and full on the nose. The palate is nutty and fresh with pure, rounded fruit that has a lemony edge. Long, complex finish. 90/100

Wines tasted 05/07

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