Grapevine Archive for Jura
On a cold wet day back in May, 27 growers from the Jura came to London to show more than 150 wines to the UK trade and press. It was the first time that this tiny region south-east of Burgundy had sent a delegation here and I, for one, was keen to meet them.
And what a day it was; what was so nice was that most of those present really got stuck in. With so many wines to taste, pacing oneself was essential. Very sensibly the Jura made sure there was sustenance in the form of three delicious cheeses and copious amounts of bread. Respecting the 10am start was important and most of those who began early were still tasting (and spitting!) five hours later.
The wines of the Jura are not well known or particularly well understood in this country.
Perhaps this is because it is a little off the beaten track and up until now there hasn’t been a concerted effort made by the region to get its wines better known. But a new generation of passionate young growers are turning around the fortunes of this historic region.
For many the Jura is synonymous with the quirky, sherry-style vin jaune, which is produced in an oxidative way, but these wines account for only about 4% of the total output. There are in fact many styles of wine made, from sparkling through to dessert vin de paille and even delicate, fresh pale reds.
Eccentric grape varieties give the wines real appeal. At one time there would have been more than 40; today five predominate, including three red. Though chardonnay is the most widely planted of the whites, it’s the local savagnin which is the region’s signature grape. Its tangy, fresh flavour, often accompanied by a whiff of curry powder, make it a great gastronomic wine with all sorts of potential.
I have written a guide to the Jura to give members a bit more background on this extraordinary region and its unique wines and have introduced several new wines to our selection recently, with more to come.We list Stéphane Tissot’s lovely nutty jaune-style 2009 savagnin from the Arbois appellation, which is made in the traditional way, alongside new wines from Domaine Montbourgeau, who are based in l’Etoile where the wines tend to have a lighter touch with great finesse and minerality. Their 2009 savagnin spent three years in barrel, protected from oxidation by a film of flor yeast. The 2006 Vin Jaune was aged under flor for six years and is very fine with an exceptionally long finish. The best-known producer in l’Etoile, Montbourgeau also make delightful sparkling wine. Introduced in the summer, the Crémant will be the Explore bottle in next month’s Societynews. For dessert-wine lovers, we have selected an exquisite, rare Vin de Paille from Domaine Berthet-Bondet. Made from shrivelled grapes, dried further on straw mats to concentrate the sugars, then bottled in specially made half bottles, this would be delightful with the local Comté cheese or tarte aux abricots.
I hope that you will enjoy discovering, or maybe rediscovering, the wines of the Jura as much as I enjoyed the day the Jura came to London.