The road to establishing Les Dolomies may have been a long haul, but judging by the quality of the wines produced by Céline Gormally and the success they have on various export markets – last time we checked Noma listed 13 of her wines – it was all worth it. The aim was always to set up on her own, that’s why she’d been renting a small 0.5ha parcel in Passenans while working for various Jura producers, including Domaines Labet, Badoz and St-Pierre, so when the opportunity of buying another ha of vines presented itself in 2008, she snapped it with both hands and created Les Dolomies. There was one minor problem though, she had no cash in the bank and couldn’t afford to take a loan so she approached Terres de Liens, an organisation which helps organic farmers set up shop, in this instance by buying the vineyard and leasing it back to Céline – while guaranteeing they would not sell it off for a number of years. Not short on ideas, Céline came up with another ingenious plan to help with cash flow whereby she leases individual vines on a 3 year contract to about 60 families who receive a certain amount of wine each year.
The recent acquisition of some vineyards from Domaine Grand brought the size of the domaine to nearly 6 hectares, which is good news for the many fans of Les Dolomies worldwide as supply has tended to be very scarce up until now. Micro cuvées will still be the norm as they bottle by individual terroir four chardonnays and five topped up savagnins. This also allowed Céline’s husband Steve Gormally, who has been involved in every aspect of the project since its infancy, to finally quit his job and join the domaine full time in April 2016. The majority of the vineyards are split between Passenans and Frontenay – they also have one small parcel in the Cote-du-Jura side of Chateau-Châlon – just north of Chateau-Châlon, half way between Lons-le-Saunier and Poligny. Like the Sud Revermont, it’s a fantastic terroir for whites with good exposure and beautiful marl-rich soils with outcrops of limestone. The vineyards of the area were largely neglected after World War One, and all the replanting took place in the 1960s and 70s which means that there’s an abundance of 50 year old vines able to yield fruits of great depth and intensity if properly looked after.
Céline’s intention was to follow the path of the people she worked for and farm biodynamically but it proved to be a tough transition for certain vineyards. She had to work hard and take it step by step but now all her parcels, bar the most recent acquisitions, are tended either organically or biodynamically. As for the winemaking part, Julien Labet was a big influence on Céline. Wild yeast fermentation is the norm, the whites are whole bunch pressed, fermented and aged in 10 year old oak (with a good proportion of demi-muids), unfined and unfiltered, while the reds are destalked, given 3 weeks macération and aged in older barrels. The aim is to eschew the use of sulphur completely, but for the moment Céline adds a little either after the malolactic fermentation or just before bottling so that there is around 20mg/l total in the white wines.
100% Savagnin in the topped up non-oxidative style.
25-30 year old vines here, planted in marl soils. Aged in 10yo barrels for 10 months, this is dry tense wine with incredible energy and delicious bitters on the salivating saline finish.
Region - Jura, France