2008 Julien Labet Chardonnay “Les Varrons”

2008 Julien Labet Les Varrons Chardonnay

2008 Julien Labet Les Varrons Chardonnay

As a wine-drinker you’ll no doubt find wine styles, varieties and regions that strike a chord with you…..they resonate at the same frequency…..for me it’s the Jura. It is a region a great scenic beauty and a diverse palate of wine styles from Pet-Nat to Vin Jaune; a region where the vignerons and locals are as down to earth as their wines, going about their business without concern for fad and fashion. The wines are eclectic and built for consuming with food…..low in alcohol, sapid and savoury with shimmering acid lines. No doubt some people can struggle with the styles, some with oxidative and aldehydic tics but with the right company and food they seem to soar.

The Labet family farm their 15 hectares of vines in the small village of Rotalier in the Southern Jura just south of  Château Chalon …… a village that is also home to one of the regions great winemakers in Jean-François Ganevat and I think you’ll find a distinct thread of connection between these two winemakers stylistically. The Labet family have been making wine for four generations and the current patriarch Alain Labet holds the reigns while his son Julien has the winemaking duties.

The Jura has long had a reputation for its oxidative-style Chardonnay, but in 1992, Domaine Labet was one of the first estates to release the variety from topped-up barrels in a Burgundian fashion. Burgundy in fact is only an hours drive away and the soils of the Jura contain a fair dose of limestone….not the famous cap-rock style of their famous cousin to the East, more a mash-up with marls and clays.

Current winemaker Julien, who learnt his craft through time at Domaine Ramonet, has access to 3 hectares of vines from the family estate to produce wines under his own label. The land is farmed without the use of herbicides and pesticides……as a sobering aside, France is ranked #3 in the world for the use of herbicides and pesticides behind the U.S. and Japan. If you’d like to practice your French there is a report here ……. if you look at the accompanying maps in the PDF you’ll get a picture of what French wine regions are potentially belting the bejesus out of their soils.

The “Les Varron” parcel is located at 280 metres above sea-level….the vines are 65 years old from sèlection massale and the complex soils are a mix of  Benthonien and Bajocien limestone with 30-80 cms of yellow and ochre clays. In the winery the grapes are harvested by hand and pressed in a pneumatic press, stems’n'all for a 2 hour cycle before settling for 12 hours. Fermentation takes place utilising natural yeasts and elevage takes place in 228 L, 1-5 year old barrels for a period of 18 months with no racking and occasional lees stirring. The wines are bottle un-fined and un-filtered.

Mid-gold in colour with sultry fruit aromas of  pithy lemon, white peach and apple washed over with the come-hither nuances of grilled hazelnuts, quince paste, marzipan, lemon curd, clotted cream and lighter notes of garam marsala, lemon verbana and an almost manzanilla-like sheen. There are savoury aromas in the mix here also…. a chickeny-stocky-like waft, a breeze of oyster shell, ozone and wise old oak.

The palate crackles with energy….. fruit flavours of lemon, apple, quince and peach are shrouded in tubular web of minerally acidity. Seasoned oak nuance washes over the fruit like an incoming tide along with hints of lemon myrtle, white flowers, marzipan, créme fraiche and grilled nuts. Lighter notes of complex curry spice, stock and lemon verbana float ghost-like across the back palate which shows an almost umami-like ache to its shape. The crystalline acid line powers the wine along to its complex end-point with perfect form and energy. Beautiful, geeky drinking.

Price: $60 – Closure: Cork – Alcohol: 13.6% – Source: Sample – Importer: Andrew Guard Wine Imports

Taste widely and seek out those wines that resonate with you….. “Any minute you will feel the chemistry….Vibrations in the brain……Can’t ever be explained”

Pour a glass.

This ones a beautiful screamer……

A beautiful screamer

A beautiful screamer

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2 Responses to “2008 Julien Labet Chardonnay “Les Varrons””

  1. Tom Fiorina
    November 27, 2012 at 2:33 am #

    The meaninglessness of the 100-point wine rating scale is immediately obvious when you read this description of what must be a fabulously good wine.

    • Dave
      November 27, 2012 at 2:52 am #

      Thanks very much Tom……it’s nice to clear ones head of numbers occasionally ;)