I like wine.
Kind of stating the obvious since I chat about it and include wine pairings in various posts, but I do like what is essentially grape juice and alcohol in spite of some genetic shenanigans which preclude me from over-imbibing. Unlike some people who become passionate about wine and oenology because of an epiphany they have experienced with one particular bottle or another, I only started to get serious about fermented grape juice when I was handed these weekly lists of “appropriate wines for business dinners”. I may not have known too much back in the day but I was astute enough to realize that none of those appropriate wines for business dinners would ever be on a carte in the style of restaurant that business dinners might take place at. Besides, invitees who didn’t have a nice evening at those business dinners had a tendency to complain about the inadequacies of the host(s) so we all knew we would be judged on our performance in relationship-building. Talk about incentive.
I did what a lot of people did back at the turn of the century when they wanted to start learning about wine: I read Wine Spectator. In hindsight, it was a really dumba$$ thing to go because I should have started tasting, but WS did have vintage charts and listed obscure producers that have come in handy every so often. I did however go through a phase of trophy bottle collecting and these fleshy flabby fruit bombs that are hard to match with food. The trophy bottles are still sitting in my stash of bottles, but I gave up on Wine Spectator and I gave up on expert ratings though I still read tasting notes.
I did do tastings, which is how I discovered that my personal preference is for Riesling and Pinot Noir and that I’m relatively neutral towards the Old World/New World split in styles. I never got good enough at blind tastings to win that T-shirt but by going 3 for 22 at the now-defunct BU wine bar I realized that I didn’t have to be so serious about fermented grape juice. Wine is supposed to be fun.
What does this have to do with J’en Veux?
Not being serious pretty much means that when it comes to selecting and purchasing wines it’s down to the question of whether or not it will be fun to drink. However, the alcohol dehydrogenase issue means that I still have to pay attention because with that limitation, when I want to drink I don’t really need it to be plonk. Bit of a balancing act but it’s taken me towards some obscura over the years. For instance, my pal Jeannette introduced me to the Rkatseteli grape varietal from Georgia (the country), which tastes like a Riesling that’s gone off a bit when grown in upper NY state, and a fino xérès that’s gone off a bit when coming from its native Georgia. I like Rkatseteli. Then there are the wines from the Irouléguy AOC which I figured would be good with garbure and cassoulet since those dishes are also popular in that part of France. Oh how wrong I was because those “gems” range from tough sledding to the truly horrifying.
I’m particularly curious about this month’s find, the wine “J’en Veux” from Jean-François Ganevat, a vintner located in the Jura region of France. This area is best known for vin jaune and vin de paille, neither of which are immensely popular but both are particularly long-lived and vin jaune is a very good match to Comté. I suspect that there are more people who have been introduced to these wines from their use as the interior poaching liquid for various Michelin iterations of the poulet de Bresse poached in pig bladder than poured out in a glass.
I’ve found the wines of the Jura to be quirky and Ganevat probably epitomizes quirky since he actively cultivates local grape varietals that almost no one grows, and cuts individual grapes off the bunch with scissors (that’s dedication, baby!). Ganevat does make interesting wines and a particularly good vin jaune – I have some and those bottles should be ready to drink about 20-25 years after my projected death – but there’s also a lot of offbeat stuff amongst his offerings including J’en Veux. It’s a low-alcohol red that might be held up to 5 years post-vintage and is made from an assembly of 7 to 20+ Jura-specific varietals depending on vintage. The varietals admitted to are Petit Beclan, Beclan, Gueuche, Enfariné, Corbeau, Portugais Bleu, Gouais, Argant, and Seyve-Villard, and I had to look them up in my copy of Wine Grapesto find out what might be expected.
But why the extra curiosity? The local négociant advised us that it caught the attention of the SAQ’s Service de Gestion de la Qualité. That of course brought up the question “the SAQ has a Service de Gestion de la Qualité?” but apparently they do and apprently “J’en Veux” has raised some eyebrows. But it’s not what’s in the bottle that’s the problem, it’s what’s on the bottle. Apparently the same department that thought the plonk known as La Cuvée Coteau de l’Élisette was perfectly acceptable to foist on local drinkers has a problem with the label on a wine made by a good vintner.
Of course this got my deely bobbers twitching when I read this and I dug around a little bit. The following two photos from CellarTracker are snaps of older iterations of the label.
Okay. It identifies the wine and there’s a cartoon, of which one version depicts a man drinking a beer. Meh, sort of more of what I’d expect from someone who makes home wine as a hobby than someone who makes wine to sell. Since there is now an entire marketing science around labels, this one would ensure that pretty much no one would buy it on a whim.
So what’s the big deal about the new version of the label? Apparently it’s very shocking though I guess it depends on what you define as shocking. The employees assigned to the Service de Gestion de la Qualité find it so shocking that the monopoly is obliging the négociant to have clients who want the wine sign a waiver declaring they accept the label and will not serve to minors as they’re not allowed access to booze (d-uh) or littérature coquine. The “accept the label as-is” part is probably the obligatory part, while the rest of the waiver text is more or less tongue in cheek raspberry towards the Service.
Want to see the label? Read below.
Shocking? I probably wouldn’t openly serve this wine if I lived in Texas or Utah and it’s not the best or smartest thing to bring to the church social, but chances are I’ll be labeled as being entirely devoid of social mores as I didn’t find the latest iteration of Ganevat’s label particularly shocking.