Les Vignes de Paradis
Dominique Lucas has chosen what many would seem an idealistic pursuit, to make Chasselas in the Savoie that stands with the best white wines of France. Despite the grapes low reputation Dominique has been planting the on serious terroirs overlooking Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) and farming them biodynamically since day one. Lucas is a 5th generation winemaker who migrated from his native Burgundy, frustrated with the region’s reliance on chemicals. He landed at a small local winery at Ballaison, on the shore of Lake Geneva. Here, he founded Les Vignes de Paradis, where he trains vines in a chaotic, unpruned method reminiscent of Burgundy’s Lalou Bize-Leroy.
His vines are separated into 27 parcels of different soil composition (rich yellow marl and granite soils with a limestone base, and some silex stones), each of which is harvested by hand (he says it takes 2.5 months to harvest here as Chasselas takes so long to ripen), and vinified separately. He is deeply committed to Chasselas, and has also added tiny parcels of Savagnin, Pinot Gris, Gamay, and Chardonnay. These are not old vines, but in the hands of this careful winemaker they are capable of producing wines of depth and complexity.
Though his family’s history is steeped in Burgundian ways, you won’t find much of this influence in his cellar. Dominique vinifies his grapes in an array of different amphorae, barrels, and concrete eggs – no doubt a hint at his close friendship with Dominique Belluard who lives about an hour away in Ayse. Fermentations occur naturally and the only addition to the wines is a small amount of sulphur at bottling. His commitment to experimentation is key, such as his recent project of building concrete pyramids out of sand, rocks and water all found on his small property for future fermentations.
Lucas’ wines are full of tension and intrigue. They are a benchmark of the region and quite simply some of Savoie’s most animated, boundless and thrilling whites.