Dominique Lucas describes the different soil types of individual parcels.

Les Vignes de Paradis: The Wines of Dominique Lucas

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This is the only time I’ve ever said this: Chasselas saved my life. After a brush with food poisoning from a bad hard-boiled egg for breakfast in Arbois, a harrowing drive with numerous switchbacks over the Jura Mountains on our way to the Savoie, two liters of water, and a bag of strange Scandinavian “bread crackers” later, I had finally made it. Pulling up to Dominique Lucas’ house was like having a paramedic bring you back right before reaching the light at the end of the tunnel – a good thing as there probably isn’t any wine once you get to the end of the tunnel.

Chasselas grapes on the vines.

Just outside the small village of Ballaisons, on slopes overlooking Lake Geneva (on the French side of the border they call it Lac Léman), Dominique farms 10 hectares (2.5 of them in Burgundy in the Haute Côte de Beaune and Pommard, more on that later) of certified organic (practicing biodynamic) vines planted in rich yellow marl and granite soils with a limestone base, and some silex stones on the surface. His vines are separated into 27 parcels of different soil composition, 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, 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.

Dominique Lucas hails from a family of Burgundian winemakers – he is the 5th generation – who own a small estate outside of Pommard. After completing oenology school, he opted out of returning to the family estate simply because he did not want to work within the strict oversight of the AOC, choosing instead to settle in the Haut Savoie (in and around the AOC Crépy to be exact) in 2008. 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 bit of sulphur at bottling.

Dominique amongst his eggs, amphorae, and barrels.      
Soon to be used for vinification: the pyramid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only are these wines the best that I’ve tasted in their category, they can truly hold their own in the world of French white wines as a whole. With ample cut and a sublime balance of fruit and minerals, all wrapped up in a package that is as clean, textured, and compelling as anything, these wines simply offer pure drinking pleasure. As Dominique continues to experiment – just this year he built a concrete pyramid out of sand, rocks, and water found on his property for future fermentations – and as his vineyards continue to mature and thrive, there is no doubt in my mind that these wines will only continue to get better. Tim Gagnon

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Dominique Lucas (Vignes de Paradis) 2014 Savoie Chasselas Quintessence

This is a fascinating entry into the wines of Dominique Lucas. The Chasselas used for this cuvée is from a recently started négociant project and is fermented in cuve before being aged partially in 600L barrel. Bright and mineral-laden with lemon zest and white flowers on the nose, it has the unmistakable qualities of Dominique’s wines but is decidedly, happily less serious than his others. This is incredible as a refreshing aperitif, especially for your upcoming holiday feasts! Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Dominique Lucas (Vignes de Paradis) 2014 Savoie Chasselas de Marin

This was perhaps my favorite wine I had tasted while visiting. The Chasselas for this cuvée is planted in granitic soils with glacial morass definitively making it the most mineral-driven of his wines, but it doesn’t lack any of the opulence found in the others. Deep aromas of yellow citrus fruit still on the tree and a hint of honeysuckle rise from the glass. On the palate it opens with honey-tinged, creamy tropical fruit and bright citrus and gives way to a rush of minerals that lasts seemingly forever. All of his wines seem to build on the finish, but this is downright impressive. Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Dominique Lucas (Vignes de Paradis) 2014 Terroir du Leman Un Matin Face

Made from Chasselas planted in clay-rich soils and raised in concrete egg, I find this wine to offer more in terms of layers of texture and in density than his other cuvées. It still maintains a ravishing acidity and ample minerality like all of his wines, but seems a bit more open aromatically with hints of crème brülée, almond milk, and zesty lemon meringue. These luscious aromas coalesce once on the palate with more succulent citrus and sea minerals coming forward. This would be fantastic with hearty poultry dishes (Thanksgiving anyone?) that balance savory and sweet, or with seared monkfish with parsnip purée and hazelnuts for the adventurous home cook. Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Dominique Lucas (Vignes de Paradis) 2014 Pays d'Allobrogie Chardonnay

A thoroughly elegant wine that truly shows its Savoie roots! This wine is fermented and aged half in concrete egg à la Belluard, his very good friend, and half in used barrel. The result is a much more chiseled and ethereal interpretation of Chardonnay that you don’t get in either the Jura or Burgundy. Think soft aromas of orchard fruit, lemon curd, and mountain wildflower on the nose, yet the palate is much more invigorating and opens up with a bit of lush fruit anchored by laser sharp acidity, a slightly waxy, mouth-coating texture, and tangy minerals. Try this with sushi made from fattier fish. Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $36.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Dominique Lucas (Vignes de Paradis) 2014 IGP Vin de Savoie Pinot Gris

I don’t often find myself drinking or even thinking about Pinot Gris, but this one is exceptional. It has all of the high-toned, mineral purity that I’ve come to know from this grape with bright, airy citrus pith, purple flowers, and a hint of soft blueberries on the nose, yet there is something extra texturally that gives this wine depth and really sets it apart. Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur