The green, rolling landscape of the Jura is a sight to behold, and the perfect picture of how a mountainous region nestled in between Burgundy and Switzerland should appear in the mind’s eye. In this cooler climate, vineyards are planted on slopes at varying altitudes and gradients. This region is home to forty different grape varietals with styles so different that they tend to shock the uninitiated. And at the heart of it all, in the charming hamlet of La Combe (just south of Lons-le-Saulnier), Jean-François Ganevat is making wine with the inspired magic of an alchemist. Known as “Fanfan” to his friends, Jean-François’ wines have occupied the better part of the hamlet, filling picturesque country cottages with barrels and barrels of his diverse yet traditional wines. He comes from a long line of winegrowers, dating as far back as 1650, although the family supplemented their grape growing with a dairy that produced milk destined for the local cheese, Comté, until 1976. After working both for his father and for the prestigious Domaine Jean-Marc Morey in Chassagne-Montrachet, Jean-François returned to the Jura in 1998 to take over the family domaine. With only eight-and-a-half hectares under vine, the family had seventeen different local varietals planted of both red and white grapes—an incredible amount of variation to consider for holdings of such small size. For such a fervent perfectionist and insatiable lover of details as Jean-François, the decision to have the domaine certified as biodynamic was a natural choice.
Jean-François creates a stunning number of cuvées, ranging between thirty-five and forty every year! His methodology goes far beyond the details of the average vigneron. For some, his process would be maddening, as each cuvée calls for a highly individualized élévage. All of his wines are de-stemmed by hand, each cluster carefully trimmed with scissors. Jean-François is committed to minute doses of sulfur, so low in fact, that many fear it hurting the wines during transport. He curbs this issue entirely by aging many of his whites on the lees for extended periods of time, anywhere from two to eleven years! In all of his years making wine, he has never had a problem. In the Jura, many of the wines go through a traditional, intentional oxidation; however Jean-François aims to lend a greater lightness and elegance to wines of this style than are typical. He gravitates toward the Burgundian style, using ouillage to top off barrels. Jean-François Ganevat is a master of his craft, one of the true magicians of the eclectic. To say that his grapes are spun into gold would not be far from the truth; they are entirely otherworldly.