You might recall that some time ago we wrote an article about Camin Larredya, a jewel of the Jurançon. Wanting to know a little more about its owner and winemaker Jean-Marc Grussaute, we had the pleasure of interviewing him this week. Here we tell you all about his work.
Jean-Marc Grussaute’s vineyards lie in the heart of Jurançon. A driving force behind the appellation’s renaissance, Camin Larredya has a superb portfolio of terraced vineyards. Vigneron Jean-Marc Grussaute places his faith in his vines and soil and understands the art of winegrowing as that of someone deciphering holy texts: his work is to transmute his soil into wine by imparting aromas, flavors, and color.
A local man, Jean-Marc Grussaute began his career as a rugby player with a Bearnese team before tragic events brought him back to the family domain. At the age of 20, with a BTS viticole in hand, he took over the reins of the domain and before long, left the local cooperative. The 1990s saw continuous tests in the vineyard and cellar, always measured and thought out, as the winemaker tried to find his style. In his eyes, one succeds in viticulture after years of experience and observation. Jean-Marc Grussaute admits that he does not think he was born with a gift for this work, rather, he compensates with hard work, patience and devotion. Fortunately, surrounded by regional figureheads, Jean-Marc Grussaute tasted wines regularly to understand his tastes and his land, so as to re-transcribe it in his work. Jean-Marc learns a lot with his friends of course, with whom he is working on several projects. One of these is a cuvée produced from bought in grapes, « Les grains des copains » (my friends’ grapes), in collaboration with two neighbors who share his values and vision of agriculture.
« A wine must reflect its soil, not the chemicals that feed it.” This appeared obvious to him at the end of the 1990s, and biodynamics seemed the perfect way to achieve it. The early 2000s marked a profound change in the domain’s viticultural methods. To place more importance on the living plants and soils, yields were reduced and soils treated according to the Hérody method, which meticulously separates the terroir into different geological areas. Jean-Marc Grussaute strives to produce frank wines, wines that truly reflect where they’re made. His first great vintage dates back to 2005 and offers pure fruit, the generosity of varieties Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng and a balance created by a fine bitterness.
Since then, Jean-Marc Grussaute has reaffirmed his style through ever more precise vinifications. Recently, the “Guide Vert” of the Revue du vin de France granted him his third star, propelling it to the top tier of dry and sweet white wine production in Jurançon. It was after nearly 30 years of work, perseverance, patience, discussion, support and tastings that Jean-Marc finally arrived at the top. Far from considering himself gifted, he sees himself as a patient worker who needed time and self-sacrifice to transcribe the local identity into a bottle. Never one to get too comfortable in his work, Jean-Marc Grussaute enjoys trying new things, at the moment producing orange wines that are vinified and matured in amphorae and have very little added sulphur.
A word to conclude this fascinating interview? Let’s say that conversing with Jean-Marc Grussaute allowed us to grasp the sincerity and frankness of his wines. A truly great winemaker – a must in our eyes! – with touching honesty.
A product of the fermentation of raisined grapes, Au Capcèu is a solid-gold favourite of the iDealwine team. It is produced by direct pressing and fermentation in barrique barrels and foudre tuns. Its intense golden appearance reveals notes of candied fruits such as fig, apricot and mandarin. Over time, its honeyed notes give way to truffle. Its sweetness is counterbalanced perfectly by a great acidity. Why not risk a daring pairing with roasted poultry and yellow fruit, blue cheese or Asian cuisine? Sensational!
Produced from archetypal local varieties, La Part Davant is from a terroir rich in clay, flint and pudding stones. The grapes are cultivated organically, picked at optimum maturity and fermented with native yeasts. The wine is then matured for 8 months on the lees in barrique barrels and foudre tuns. On tasting, the vivacity of its flavour notes (fresh fruit, minerals) complements a palate with volume and plenty of fruit. This makes the wine the perfect partner for fish in sauce or white meat.
A blend of raisined Petit and Gros Manseng grapes, this sweet Jurançon has been matured for six months on fine lees in 225-litre casks. Its beautiful golden appearance precedes a highly indulgent bouquet in which notes of exotic fruit, quince, apricot and honey rub shoulders. The palate is perfectly poised, offering a subtle combination of roundness, freshness and indulgence. Allow us to suggest a few surprising (but divine) pairings such as blue cheese, roasted poultry or spicy cuisine.