The Gahier family has been resident in the Jura since 1525. The family domaine is 6.5 hectares with the vineyards concentrated in the village of Montigny-les-Arsures, the place recognized as the home of Trousseau. Michel Gahier has learned from the best. Gahier is a neighbor and friend of Jacques Puffeney, both living in Montigny-les-Arsures, a viticultural district that is acknowledged to produce some of the finest wines of the Arbois appellation. His observations and ongoing dialogue with Puffeney have instilled skills and sensibility that produce undeniably outstanding wines that clearly express the very particular terroir of this corner of the Jura.
Gahier harvests and vinifies his wines parcel by parcel. Each wine ultimately is derived exclusively from a single vineyard site. His whites are produced “sous voile”, although the “Les Crets” cuvée is less dominated by that process than the “La Fauquette” or the “Les Follasses” bottlings which spend considerably more time aging in barrel. The Savagnin and the Vin Jaune are both classic versions, a testament to the old traditions of the Jura where the whites are left in barrel without “topping up”. The reds are as mineral-driven as one could expect from the Jura, with a freshness and length that are compelling. The viticulture is organic (although not “certified”). The reds are destemmed; the yields are quite low (averaging 30 hectoliters per hectare). There is a period of cold maceration followed by a cuvaison of approximately one month with some pigeage done in the initial parts of the process. The wines, both white and red, are aged in old foudres and barrel. The wines are bottled without filtration.
|Gahier Cremant du Jura: Gahier Cremant du Jura: 100% Chardonnay aged 12 months on the lees before being disgorged and bottled without dosage. Firm and mineral, with laser sharp acidity, and slight bitter note of toasted almond. Like the rest of the wines at Gahier, production is quite small. We typically have access to about 40 cases a year.|
|Gahier Arbois Rouge Trousseau “Le Clousot”: The vines for “Le Clousot” are the youngest at the domaine. This is the lightest and easiest of his Trousseau from Montigny-les-Arsures. We typically receive 50 cases a year of this charming little red.|
|Arbois Blanc Chardonnay Les Crets: The grapes for this cuvée are sourced from a hilltop vineyard (Les Crets meaning “crest of the hill”) where the Chardonnay has been grafted onto the rootstock of the local grape variety known as “Melon Queue Rouge”. The wine is aged for about fifteen months in large foudre and is then racked into the smaller format (600 liter) demi-muid for another year of elevage.|
|Arbois Blanc Chardonnay Les Follasses: The soil in this single vineyard site in Montigny is typical clay – limestone mix. Gahier leaves this wine under the veil (“sous voile”) for a more extensive period of time than the “Les Crets”; thus, the wine reflects the classical hazelnut and honeyed quality of the best of the whites from the region. Typically, it is quite full-bodied but carries a significant level of acidity that makes the wine particularly age-worthy.|
|Arbois Blanc Chardonnay La Fauquette: This cuvée, again from a single vineyard in Montigny, is aged for one year in large foudres at which point it is then racked into smaller barrel for an additional three years “sous voile”. Called Chardonnay, the vines are of the local variety known as “Melon Queue Rouge”, a white grape the skin color of which bleeds towards red as it approaches the stem.|
|Arbois Blanc Savagnin: The local grape variety responsible for the great Vin Jaune, the Savagnin for this cuvée is also aged “sous voile” but is bottled three to four years after harvest. The Savagnin produces a severe wine with exceptional power, a wine that takes time to reveal itself.|
|Arbois Rouge Ploussard: The Ploussard (sometimes referred to as the Poulsard) is planted in small parcels in Montigny where its competing red, the Trousseau, is deemed to be the king of the hill. The Ploussard is an intriguing grape variety that has a pale rose tinted skin. Frequently, the color of the wine is almost a grey-tinted garnet. Don’t be fooled by its appearance: there can be significant structure to the wine with grainy tannins and firm minerality. One of the true treasures of the Jura and handled by Gahier in a superior fashion.|
|Arbois Rouge Trousseau Le Vigne de Louis: This vineyard in Montigny has a northeast exposure which requires a harvest later than the other “cru” reds. The vines are forty years old (as of 2011). Gahier likes this cuvée with about four or five years of age to it.|
|Arbois Rouge Trousseau Grands Vergers: This vineyard site produces Gahier’s greatest red. The vines are sixty to seventy years of age, the soil is heavily “marl”. The vines are on a gentle slope with superb exposure to the sun. The result is a classic Trousseau.|
|Arbois Vin Jaune: Gahier’s Jaune is a tour de force. He selects his finest plots of Savagnin to produce his Vin Jaune. The wine ages “sous voile” in old oak barrels for around seven years before bottling. Gahier believes the best of his Jaunes need twenty years to develop fully and surely at least ten years in bottle.|
|Gahier Cotes du Jura Rouge “La Vigne de Fort”: Sourced from a small .2-hectare parcel in the Cotes du Jura (Gahier also grows his Chardonnay for his Cremant here) this cuvee is mostly Trousseau with a touch of Pinot Noir (10%) mixed in. The vines here are roughly 40 years old, and produce a red that is less structured and more readily accessible than his reds from Arbois. Production is small, with only about 50 cases available for the United States each year.|
|Gahier Arbois Rouge “Berangers”: Gahier owns a .3-hectare parcel adjacent to the legendary Trousseau that we have imported for decades from Jacques Puffeney. The vines here more than 50 years old, and produce a wine with the great character and depth that we have come to expect from this site. Due to its limited production, Gahier has elected to only bottle this red in magnum to encourage the lucky few who can purchase a bottle to hide it away in their cellar for future rewards. We only receive a handful of magnums each year.|
We initially met Michel Gahier ten years ago through his neighbor Jacques Puffeney (a man who truly needs no introduction), just as wider awareness in the region was beginning to crest.
With Michel this Saturday morning. Certainly one of the great domaines in our portfolio. Drinking 1985 Trousseau Grands Vergers. NIR
When we hunker down with Michel Gahier in his modest cellar just off the main square of Montigny-les-Arsures (known locally as the “Capital of Trousseau”), we never quite know what he’ll unearth from his library. During our last visit, he blind-tasted us on an enchanting 1990 Chardonnay “La Fauquette”—made with no added sulfur, and as fresh as the day it was born.
Amidst the lush, verdant, rolling hills of the Jura, surrounded by plentiful cattle, occasional vineyards, and little else, one can still profoundly feel the ancient agrarian heartbeat of old France. Here, unlike almost anywhere else in the Old World, persists a robust winemaking tradition of careful, intuitive vineyard management, confidently unobtrusive cellar work, and a
Sunday, Sept 22, 2013 Neal spent the day visiting our producers in the Jura. Here are his notes: “I spent last Sunday (September 22) visiting each of our four producers. The first issue to discuss is “reduction” in certain wines from our producers in the Jura. Of course, we had this problem raise its ugly
A week spent in the Cote d’Or, the Jura and Alsace …. There is plenty of good news to share about the wine scene in Burgundy. We are about to tackle three very strong vintages in Burgundy: ’08, ’09 and ’10. The first and last are marked by vibrant, fresh, pure wines with clear expression
The wine of the afternoon! NIR