The rare and specific wines of Jura

Passion Jura at The Burroughes, Toronto

Passion Jura at The Burroughes, Toronto

The génial wines of Jura are a peculiar bunch. Nothing else in France, or the world for that matter, resembles them. They are specific, unique, idiosyncratic, and rare. Specific because virtually every producer makes the same set of wines. Unique for their varietal distinction and the élevage methods that lead them to market. Idiosyncratic due to their oxidized versus non-oxidized styles. Rare because at any given moment in time only four are available in the LCBO. There are currently 58 available at the SAQ.

For a comprehensive look at the wines of Jura, read Wink Lorch at Jura wine, food and travel

Jura is what Wink Lorch describes as a “bijou” wine region located in eastern France, east of Burgundy and within a stone’s throw over the Alps to Geneva in Switzerland. Mountains are everywhere, soils give vineyards a variegation of clay, marl, fossils and plenty of limestone. Napoleonic cold and harsh winters, serious frost issues and complex methodologies challenge vines and winemakers in ways empathetic vintners in Ontario have no problem understanding. Could Ontario be the kismet New World wine region to foster Jura, the strange and beautiful? Savagnin produced by Ontario South Coast Burning Kiln Winery is a remarkable rendition and the most interesting wine recently tasted in Norfolk County.

But I digress. Back to Jura. Bresse chickens are a most delicious and famous commodity. Saucisses morteau the pork sausage is a most righteous banger. Comté (serious) and La vache qui rit (not so much) are its most famous cheeses.

Evan Saviolidis Speaks at Passion Jura

Evan Saviolidis Speaks at Passion Jura

The Wines of Jura committee consisting of flying Sommelier Evan Saviolidis, Good Food Revolution, and The Tuxedo Wine Experience team brought three Tissot’s along with 14 other Jura producers in April to hit the hardwood at Toronto’s lofty Burroughes event space.

The seminar was presented by Jura expert Saviolidis with an overview of the region’s history, pertinent facts and winemaking styles. A select tasting of its wines followed, running the gamut from dry whites through to its most unusual and singular oxidized rarities.

Whites are made from Chardonnay, Savagnin and (most-planted) Poulsard, reds from Trousseau and Pinot Noir. Easy-drinking wines come from clay, Pinot Noir from limestone, the top examples from marl. The anti-tannic and low-pigmented Trousseau (Bastardo) prefers clay or marl. Savagnin (also called Melon D’arbois, Gamay Blanc and the rare variation Melon a Quere Rouge) demands rugged, steep slopes and grey marl soil.

The styles of ouille (topped up, “filled to the eye”) vs non-ouille, oxidative or not conundrum can confuse, even distort sensibilities and previous frames of reference. Some typical Jura whites (vins types) like Savagnin can make both near-oxidative, Fino Sherry-like wine and a highly oxidative vin jaune (yellow wine), most famously from Château-Chalon. The latter is aged in barrel for six years and three month with its air protective layer of yeast. It is only made in great vintages. No specific appellation is tied to its magic pixie yeast and volatile acidity.

The region is divided into four AOC, Arbois, Cote de Jura, L’Etoile, Chateau-Chalon. Jura is the only (AOP) wine region to make Macvin de Jura, a traditional blend of non-ouille Savagnin and Chardonnay. The wine is fortified with a neutral (pomace, or marc) spirit added. The vin de paille, (straw wine) is made from dried grapes then turned into wine. These are examples of the joys of Jurassic idiosyncrasy.

Crémant de Jura is produced all over the region and can use all five varieties. Arbois is the oldest and most prolific production. Cotes de Jura comes in red, white, and rosé. L’etoile whites are famed after fossils that look like stars, the wines made from Chardonnay, a blend of Chardonnay and Savagnin and Poulsard.

Hue is not necessarily a key to wine colour. The reds can look like Rosé, some oxidized whites like oranges or very light reds. Red and white grapes mix to make dessert wines. What’s on the label is the map to use as a guide to what’s inside. Saviolidis offered his insight and moderated the discussion on the following six wines poured at the seminar.

Passion Jura Seminar Wines

Passion Jura Seminar Wines

Domaine Désiré Petit Crémant du Jura NV (winery, 8,70 EUR)

A blend of Chardonnay (dominant) with Chambourcin and Pinot Noir from the Revermont in Jura, the sweetness is perceivable (8 g/L residual) and the texture palpable (15 months on lees). Acts like autolytic champagne, with noticeable terpenic pith in a low dosage, near-Brut style.

Domaine Rolet Père et Fils Arbois Poulsard Vieilles Vignes 2011, (SAQ 11537090, $22.45)

From vines that grow in native, red, rich and heavy marl soils. Here the minimum is 35 years for those vines, the fruit in requiem of big barrels, (foudres) for 15 months. Smells like a cave and its hanging cure, but also red currants, white berries and a sweaty red onion straight from the fridge. To taste it attacks in tart, dusty pepper tones. Akin to some Loire Cabernet Franc albeit much more interesting.

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot Arbois Trousseau 2010, (winery, 10.50 EUR)

From red marl and gravel soils, the yield was 4L per hectare for this vintage only. Vinified in cement vats with 15 days of maceration and 18 months of aging  in old foudres. A death-cab cute Trousseau that avoids intensity though it is marked by cracked pepper, blue fruit, cacao and reducing, wet, oxidized earth. Cherry and ash palate, long and very pure. A wonderful wine of soul meets body, “like a melody softly soaring through my atmosphere.” Trousseau is certainly indie, emo even but this example shows the talent of the winemaker.

Domaine André Et Mireille Tissot Chardonnay ‘En Barberon’ 2011 (Agent, $45)

From old vines 20 km south of Arbois, this is one of seven Chardonnays produced by Stéphane and Bénédicte Tissot. Organic and biodynamic since 2004, this argillaceous mineral-laced and calcareous-driven wholly unique Chardonnay has that atomic, soda-driven petrol usually reserved for Mosel Riesling. Climb the rock and cover it with tropically coated apple caramel and toasted nuts. An old school, baby of the barrel that will age slowly and surely for 20 years.

Berthet-Bondet Château-Chalon 2007,(365171, $86.95)

Of a very small appellation (4.5 hectares from an area totalling 40-45) this Vin Jaune is produced from the best parcels of land at Gaillardon (in the parish of Domblans), Beaumont (in the parish of Ménétru le Vignoble) and Sous-Roche (in the parish of Chateau-Chalon). Savagnin aged the necessary six years and three months in oak barrels with native yeasts. A non-fortified, non-ouille Jura, natural with oxidation and evaporation over time. Explicit in dried fruit and nuts and an underlying pink salinity, likening it to Sherry. Rich and both sweet/sour to taste. Like Fino, at five times the price. An eccentric wine to be sure, intended for rubber-necking and curiosity thrill seekers. Oxidized but not eclipsed by bruised fruit and dry as the desert. Is there any life in this strange and not so beautiful elixir? “There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact its all dark.”

Domaine Baud Cote de Jura Vin de Paille 2009, (winery, Approx. $40-50)

Made from a third of each variety, Poulsard, Chardonnay and Savagnin. A dessert wine pressed in January from 100 kilos, resulting in 20 litres final product. Best served with chocolate, cake, foie gras and aged cheeses, this rendition holds of balanced (30 g/L residual ) sweetness. The aromatic balance comes from salinity, raisins and candied fruit, along with brown sugar and dried apricots to taste. There is nothing overly sweet about it save for a lingering hazelnut purée. Certainly drying but without an attack on the salivary glands.

After the seminar the 17 Jura producers poured their wines to a larger audience. Here are notes on five.

Domaine Jacques Tissot

Arbois Chardonnay 2010 – Unoaked, lemon-lime fresh and tangy.

Arbois Nature 2013 – Savagnin with a bounce in its step. Waxy with a citrus squeeze over just crushed grapes and approachably fruity.

Arbois Savagnin 2009 – From vines out of marnes grises du lias. At this stage it’s just developing a butterscotch and nut brown colour meets flavour sequence. The citrus here is in pith.

Arbois Trousseau 2010 – The soil for this is argiles à chailles (clay-with-flints). Earthy, lithe, ripe, dusted with dried cherry and white pepper.

Crémant Du Jura Blanc Brut NV – From 100 per cent Chardonnay this is like lime cream soda without the sugar. Perfectly dry expression.

Arbois Poulsard 2010 – Grown out of marnesirisees du trias the stone imparts a seafood character. So natural, uncultivated, sea salinity and fish funky.

Arbois Vin de Paille 2008 – The juice is kept four months and then aged four years. On the sweet side of the style, with less  nuts and more marmalade, particularly apricot.

Arbois Vin Jaune 2006 – Down by law aged for six years and three months. As Sherry-like as it gest with added lemon, wax, piquancy and blanched nuts.

Macvin Du Jura Blanc NV – A sweety that finishes concrete dry. Like nut-crusted white flowers. Would last in the fridge for six months.

Arbois Chardonnay Les Corvees Sous Caron – Smooth, linear, calm, safe and easy-going.

Domaine Berthet-Bondet

Côtes du Jura Rubis 2012 – From vines 20-30 years of age, this is a pragmatic and necessary blend of Trousseau (45 per cent), Poulsard (45) and Pinot Noir (10). Currants, red bell pepper, charcuterie and potpourri aromas. Tart and delicious.

Côtes du Jura Chardonnay 2012 – Ouille from a wine aged in five to 10 per cent, one-year old oak. Fresh with lemon and grapefruit. Polished, zest and more zest.

Côtes du Jura Naturé 2012 – A year in stainless, this is modernized but not unnatural. Scents of lime and its pith and a cemented sense of concrete.

Côtes du Jura Tradition 2010 – A combination of Chardonnay (70 per cent) and Savagnin (30), each oxidized separately. Has a minty, cool piquancy and a thin to win attitude.

Château-Chalon 2007 – See above.

Vin de Paille Cotes du Jura 2009 – Such fine balance in this example. Parity for the nuts, dried fruit and never cloying marmalade. Top dessert example.

Domaine Rolet Père et Fils

Arbois Blanc Harmonie 2011 – Spent 12 months in small barrels. Well-judged blend that is waxy, high on lemonade and a piercing acidity. Reminds of young Sémillon.

Côtes Du Jura Expression Du Terroir 2008 – Though this spent three years in oak it’s impossibly fresh. A wine topped up by Savagnin, the minerality is of a largesse and the wax-tang quotient crazy in length like no other white in the room.

Arbois Rouge Trousseau 2009 – The palest red, still fresh for its age.

Arbois Rouge Tradition 2010 – Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir. Spent 15 months in Foudres. Flinty and sulphurous. Of the earth. Long finish.

Arbois Vin Jaune 2006 – Meditative, mediated, resolved.

Crémant Du Jura Blanc Brut 2008 – Vintage dated, striking, pulsating, lemon soda. Chardonnay (70 per cent) with Pinot Noir and Poulsard.

Arbois Rouge Poulsard 2011 – Red onion skin, concrete, earth, tar and ash.

Vin de Paille 2006 – From Chardonnay (40 per cent), Savagnin (40) and Poulsard (20).  Dry, cheesey, leesy, yeasty nose. A sweet marmalade palate ensues, with a pith bite into orange peel.

Domaine André Et Mireille Tissot

Crémant Du Jura Blanc NV – Chardonnay (55 percent), Pinot Noir (35), Poulsard (5) and Trousseau (5). Quite elegant, very fresh, high-toned fruit.

Arbois Chardonnay Les Bruyères 2011 – From terroir argileux du Trias clay soils, there is density, less abstruse character than others and high citrus.

Arbois Trousseau Singulier 2012 – The smell of fresh concrete and a coat of varnish. Very peppery and distinctive.

Arbois Chardonnay Les Graviers 2011 – A more serious and brooding rendition from limestone this has an oxidative quality.

Arbois Vin Jaune Les Bruyères 2007 – From terroir argileux du Trias clay soils, there is density, less abstruse character than others and high citrus.

Château-Chalon 2007 – Unique to this genre, here there is less brawn, more citrus pith and oyster shell, Most of all there are crazy acids. This version shows the greatest potential for longevity.

Chardonnay ‘En Barberon’ 2011 – see above.

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissott

Arbois Savagnin 2009 – A three-year aged white that results in a dovetailing of dry, nutty and tart.

Arbois Poulsard 2010 – Spent 10 days in cement and six months in large foudres. Good freshness, some earth and straightforward painted flavours.

Arbois Trousseau 2010 – see above.

Chardonnay 2011 – Out of calcareous soil there is a soft, dreamy, mouth filling creamy character. Delicate until the angle of citrus, in pith and zest takes over. A viscous, or gras Chardonnay.

Arbois Vin Jaune 2006 – Slightly lower alcohol (14.5 per cent) makes for a brighter nose. Fresher than the other ’06’s, with lifted floral aromatics, less heavy in liqueur and more clarity.

Crémant Du Jura NV – From 100 per cent Chardonnay this is bright. fresh and lively.

Macvin Du Jura NV – From two thirds Savagnin and 1/3 Eau de Vivre de Marl this is all about sweet smeling white flowers.

 

Good to go!

 

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Eight Under $28 From The April 28th VINTAGES Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2012

VINTAGES

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/04/24/eight-under-28-from-the-april-28th-vintages-release/

 

Vinea Garganega 2010 (230656, $13.95) sugars great Veronese IVR* promise out of the Veneto. Hyperglycemic green-eyed lady bass line and Hammond organ finger roll plum and honey-dew in a state of barm loaf. Glycerin of Amaretto and snappy Salak. Sour apple martini with candy swizzle stick, “soothing every wave that comes.”  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canonica a Cerreto Chianti Classico Reserva 2007 (275867, $17.00) was surely not decanted from a straw flask into this sleek and marketable bottle. A precocious and gregarious ruffle of polish and cask modernity speak of the Cerreto’s new worldliness. Splashes of Cabernet and Merlot lean IGT and yet just enough Chianti brightness remains to keep it honest.  Scales (“never heard of him“) on the label are indicative of this balanced effort. Easy money.  88

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hogue Genesis Syrah 2009 (687822, $19.95) is a steadfast and decent wine so my exegesis begins at its central core. Black colour of a world still unformed. Heady like a stand of old growth forest; black oak, ash and walnut. B’reishit Washington Syrah where the bifurcation of quality and cost collide. Big wall of Syrah sound, perfect for headphones playing “no need to hide. Keep it dark.”  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent Girardin Vieilles Vignes MâconFuissé 2009 (264515, $19.95) the vibrant fresh maker, with crisp, apple taut fragrance and void of oak annoyance. Just a touch of baby fat and some mineral too. Well-balanced for under $20. Girardin’s (940825, $39) Santenay on this release is not to be missed.  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arnoux & Fils Vacqueyras 2009 (264663, $19.95) is as modern as it gets for the appellation, right down to “The Vac” label. Sweet Kirsch, lifted raspberry jam, soft, fleshy and forward. Has just enough funk to keep it real. Will have broad appeal and represents excellent Dogg value, if you like the plush style. Betcha Snoop drinks it.   89

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leasingham Winemakers Selection Bin 61 Shiraz 2008 (448241, $24.95) the Kitty of Clare Valley is back in town. A loyal and trusted friend, reminiscent of the ’99. Burns no rubber and “goes runnin’ nightly, lightly through the jungle.” Less power, more strength. Less jam, more brakes. This Highway 61 should not be accused of having put its “bleachers out in the sun.”  90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saltram of Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (48579, $24.95) may inexplicably enjoy cult status but for the money no other Barossa Cabernet can demand such respect. I would pay $25 for this over almost any $50+ peer within the appellation. Opulent, ruddy, bursting, pickled berries.  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isole E Olena Chainti Classico 2008 (704346, $26.95) the beguiler welcomes with cinnamon, cherry spice and award winning roses. Poised, confident, simply phenomenal CC issue. Delicious now and will be perfect in five.  Better than when tasted in November 2011.  91

TN from Nov. 29, 2011,“…a mouthful of black fruit, bourbon cask aromas, dark and stormy. The barque of a ship’s ocean misted, wooden planks and of a smoked beef rib. Hard lines but hard to resist. Bloody good CC but certainly not traditional.  89

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Wines Tasted

Two Rivers of Marlborough Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (277707, $29.95) carries heavy alcohol bandwidth, tomato leaf pesto and band-aid across a frame of sweet lime concentrate. Hot for SB, over processed and heavy with silicone and collagen. Their will be superficial fans.  86

Chavet & Fils La Dame De Jacques Coeur Menetou-Salon Blanc 2010 (525048, $19.95) offers a rare VINTAGES sighting and would excite were it more Loire and less Marlborough. Salmagundi of pâté, gooseberry and kiwi, swathed by an alkaline grapefruit finish.  85

Torres Viña Esmerelda 2010 (113696, $13.95) zests halitious of ReaLemon and petroleum wax. Can’t help but hear the “smell of wine and cheap perfume” lyric played by a wedding band while the cast of Jersey Shore watch their drapery clad mothers put back the Esmeralda. Like Torrontoes with bad make-up. Won’t be tagging along on this Moscatel journey.  80

Colchester Ridge Crew Meritage 2007 (280990, $19.95) noses Ontario from the get go with burning campfire then wafts exotic towards Masala spice, brown derby dressing and horseradish root. Flavour of earth demi-glace, composted apple and black licorice.  84

Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (38075, $23.95) the “melody softly soaring through my atmosphere” is cute, sweet, lyrical and precocious. Gallo incarnate in the AlexanderValley. A death Cab for some but what’s not to like?  87

Stag’s Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (996405, $49.95) the model of consistency vintage to vintage and head to foot. Runs black cherry in its veins with nary a cut, scrape or bruise. Napa varietal profiling in its poised, beating heart.  89

Andrew Rich Cuvée B Pinot Noir 2008 (127043, $29.95) carries currant, candied pomegranate and the rocky crush of clove studded juniper berry. Well made, on the elegant side of Pinot life, even Burgundian if that can even be articulated.  88

Mendel Malbec 2009 (108225, $24.95) typifies Mendoza replete with old vines fruit adding canorous body. Infundibular midriff slows the smouldering, swelling berry pleasure. Crucial minerals carry red grape fluid away from the viscera and out of the body.  87

Susana Balbo Signature Malbec 2009 (79798, $21.95) at the outset teases TCA, then VA. Paulliac nez of tabac et peau danimaux. That and a whack of new French Oak where vanilla, chocolate and coffee lambaste and pummel the senses.  NR

Majella Shiraz 2008 (269308, $29.95) is a vitrified, mined vine of depth and power but short on finesse. Heavy extract with a touch of soap and mired in the details of oak. “The wheels are spinning but the car, neutral.”  86

Esprit de Pavie 2008 (244020, $32.95) shows good spirit as it amalgamates 2nd wine fruit from iconic Pavie, Monbousquet, Clos L’eglise and St. Columbe. Spiced coffee cake and soft yet pretty purple fruit. Obdurate push back indicates three years of cellaring will help. Would have been a CVR** steal at $20-25.  89

Brancaia Tre 2009 (164715, $22.95) the SGM speaks of identity theft and lack of spirit. Once upon a Tuscan, now a global commodity playing on MOR radio stations. This bottling recently rushed to great success but there is now “a question of your honesty, yeah your honesty.” Sure it’s delicious but what’s with “all this machinery making modern music?”  Pair not with pasta asciuta normale87

StefanoAccordini Acinatico Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009 (85159, $19.95) is pitchy for a valpo with splendiferous up front fruit. Cimmerian red plum joined by buff vanillan cocoa and velveteen in the mouth. So far so good but ultimately flaccid and void of oomph.  86

Allende 2006 (954560, $24.95) in extant cantillates oak, oak, oak. What happened to my Rioja? Tempered Tempranillo so no fear that it may seize. Pendulous and potent, well-mannered, ready to please. Go Condado de Haza over this for sure.  87

Perrin Réserve Rosé 2011 (719062, $15.95) is warm and balanced, all strawberry, all the time. Nutty for its ilk.  86

 

 

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-to-Value Ratio

CVR* – Vintage Direct Curiosity-to-Value Ratio

 

 

Good to go!