Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Wines Of Jura

 Jura wines are relatively rare, representing only 0.2% of French wine production with its 2000ha under vine. They also represent quite unique wine styles, as described below, and they are all the rage in the bars of New York and Tokyo. The authorized grape varieties are Savagnin and Chardonnay for white wine, and Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau (Bastardo) for red. Two third of the plantings are for white wine, and this is where most of the interest lies.

One of the unique styles is vin jaune (yellow wine), only made from Savagnin. The wine juice is matured for six years in neutral casks. It is not allowed to be topped up for five years. As a result, ullage develops, which results in an oxidized wine. The impact is somewhat reduced by the yeast which develops as a thin cover, similar to sherry production. A second group of wines is called sous voile, which means the wine matures under yeast as well, but not for the duration of vin jaune. This can be Savagnin or Chardonnay. Macvin are wines with the addition of a neutral spirit. This wine can be made from all five varieties. And then there is the desert wine vin de paille. This wine is made from air dried grapes. Conventional wines are made as well, red and white. In contrast to other regions, red wines are meant to be drunk young, whereas white wines are mostly aged.

Tasting these wines can be challenging and does not necessarily correspond with expected varietal character, as the production method dominates. I will report briefly on the outstanding four wines from a recent tasting.

The wine on the left is the 2016 Jean Francois Ganevat Les Chamois du Paradis. The flavours in this sous voile wine are exotic. Pear and orange peel and some flintiness capture the palate. This wine has been matured in neutral oak for four years and topped up occasionally. The wine is elegant and balanced (95 points). 

The 2010 Lucien Aviet Savagnin has also been matured sous voile. It is quite an aggressive wine, very yeasty, similar to sherry, with lime and hazelnut flavours dominating. It is long, but I found it a bit one-dimensional (93 points).

The 2010 Lucien Aviet Vin Jeune takes it a step further. This wine is very oxidized, yet still lively and fresh. It is quite salty with a very long finish (94 points).

The absolute highlight was the 1996 Tissot Arbois Vin de Paille. This very rare (not that the others are common) desert wine is oily and melts in your mouth. It is lively and dances on the palate. Caramel, raisin and pepper stand out. The finish is very long (98 points). 


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