Posts Tagged ‘savagnin’

Passion For Jura – The Wines

April 28, 2014 3 comments

Passion For Jura Seminar winesIn the previous “Passion for Jura” post, we talked about the region – history, terroir, grapes and types of wines – but we didn’t talk about the wines themselves. “Passion for Jura” was the name of the seminar and tasting which I recently attended in New York city, where I had an opportunity for the first time to really immerse into the fascinating world of one of the oldest wine producing regions, which is really unknown in US.

During the seminar, 6 wines were presented by the winemakers themselves. The idea was to let us experience the full range of the Jura wines (for some strange reason, Vin Jaune was not presented during the seminar). Here are the wines we tasted:

NV Domaine Jacques Tissot Cremant du Jura Blanc Brut (12% ABV) – 100% Chardonnay, refreshing grassy nose, very acidic, bubbles are present but somewhat muted in the glass. Creamy mouthfeel with toasted bread and apple on the nose. Overall, not bad, but lacking a bit an overall energy of the sparkling wine.

2011 Domaine de la Pinte Jura Arbois Polsard de L’Ami Karl (11.5% ABV) – light, refreshing, cranberries with the touch of barnyard, herbs (sage), light but with the nice tannins. Very interesting and very enjoyable.

2011 Benoit Badoz Vermiel (13.5% ABV, 70% Trosseau, 30% Pinot Noir) – fresh grapey nose – not a pronounced as Beaujolais Nouveau, but still quite explicit. Cherries and blackberries show up next. Beautiful, smokey notes on the palate, a bit sharp, but fresh. Clean acidity, long pleasant finish. Somewhat similar to Oregon Pinot Noir, but more round. Also has a noticeable green component.

Compare the colors of the two red wines in the tasting:

2011 Domaine Champ Divin Cotes du Jura (13% ABV, Chardonnay/Savagnin blend) – vanilla, minerality on the nose. Delicious. Acidity and minerality on the palate, fresh apples, very refreshing

2009 Fruitiére D’Arbois Savagnin Arbois AOC (14% ABV, 100% Savagnin) – oxidation is very much pronounced, pretty much like with Sherry, both on the nose and the palate. This wine is typically made as Vin Jaune, but it requires lesser aging time. After the wine breathes, it becomes much less aggressive and comes through as clean, despite the oxidation.

2009 Domaine Pierre Richard Vin de Paille (15% ABV) – delicious nose. Palate is beautiful, with refreshing acidity, touch of bitterness, and full of fresh juicy apricots. Wow!


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And here is the list of some of the wines I tasted during the walk around tasting. The place was small, and got very crowded after a while, so I didn’t taste the wines from all 20 producers. As usual for the trade tasting, I’m using the “+” sign system. The wines mentioned below were my favorites, for the most cases with “+++” ratings with some exceptions (of course), such as “++-|” and “++++”.

2010 Domaine Jacques Tissot  Arbois Chardonnay (12.5% ABV) – +++, beautiful!

2012 Domaine Jacques Tissot Arbois Chardonnay La Mailloche (12.5% ABV) – +++-|, butter and balance! perfect.

2009 Domaine Jacques Tissot Arbois Savagnin (13% ABV) – +++, very elegant

2006 Domaine Jacques Tissot Arbois Vin Jaune (14.5% ABV) – +++, mushrooms and forest floor! should be amazing with savory dishes. Vin Jaune can last for 6 month after being opened.

2010 Domaine Jacques Tissot Arbois Trousseau (12.5% ABV) – ++-|, clean, elegant, light – red which more feels like white

NV Domaine Jacques Tissot Macvin du Jura (17% ABV)very unusual palate, with raspberries, almost taste like Framboise, very nice. Can last for 6 month in the fridge.

2010 Domaine Jacques Tissot Cotes du Jura Pinot Noir (12% ABV) – ++-|, very interesting and unusual for a Pinot Noir

Domaine Desire Petite

2012 Domaine Désire Petit Ploussard (12.5% ABV) – +++, smokey nose!

2012 Domaine Désire Petit Trousseau (12.5% ABV) – ++-|, dry, clean, nice

2012 Domaine Désire Petit Chardonnay (12.5% ABV) – ++-|, clean, classic, minerality!

2012 Domaine Désire Petit Savagnin Ouillé (13% ABV) – +++, 6 month in oak, very complex wine

2011 Domaine Désire Petit Tradition (12.5% ABV, 25% Savagnin) – +++, perfect acidity

2008 Domaine Désire Petit Savagnin(13% ABV) – ++-|, delicate, elegant

2007 Domaine Désire Petit Vin de Paille (14.5% ABV) – +++, prunes on the nose! perfect balance

Domaine Berthet-Bondet

2012 Domaine Berthet-Bondet Cotes du Jura Chardonnay (12.5% ABV) – ++-|, light, round

2012 Domaine Berthet-Bondet Cotes du Jura Naturé (13% ABV) -+++, good fruit

2012 Domaine Berthet-Bondet Cotes du Jura Tradition (13% ABV) -+++, delicious

2005 Poulsard La Chamade

2005 Domaine Philippe Bornard Ploussard La Chamade – Best of tasting!

2005 Domaine Philippe  Bornard Arbois Pupillin La Chamade Ploussard (12.8% ABV) –  ++++, wow!

2011 Domaine Philippe  Bornard Arbois Pupillin La Chamade Ploussard (13.5% ABV) – +++, wow! delicious, sweet undertones

2011 Domaine Philippe  Bornard Arbois Pupillin Trousseau Le Ginglet (12% ABV) – +++, delicious complexity in the back

2011 Domaine Philippe  Bornard Arbois Pupillin Savagnin Ouille Les Chassagnes (13.5% ABV) – ++-|, complex

2011 Domaine Philippe  Bornard Chardonnay Les Gaudrettes (12.5% ABV) – +++, complex, delicate!

2011 Domaine Philippe  Bornard Arbois Pupillin L’Ivresse de Noé (14% ABV) – +++, late harvest Savagnin, a touch of sweetness, delicious complexity

I also tasted 4 different Vin Jaune wines from Domaine André & Mireille Tissot, all from 2007 vintage, all single vineyard, and all delicious, with the one from Chateau-Chalon being the best – unfortunately, as all those wines were not listed in the tasting brochure, I can’t give you their exact names – but look for Domaine André & Mireille Tissot Vin Jaune – they are well worth your attention.

That concludes my report on the Passion for Jura tasting. Based on my experience, I can simply tell you  – Jura makes delicious wines, and you need to experience them. Go to your wine merchant and ask for the Jura wines by name – and let me know how you will like them. Cheers!


Passion for Jura – The Land

April 22, 2014 15 comments

Vignobles_juraLet’s say you are talking to an oenophile. Ask her to name the major wine regions in France. I’m sure that Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne will be first. With the small pause, Loire and Rhone will follow, and then may be (may be!) Languedoc. I wonder how many of the oenophiles will mention Jura? Next question might be even more “tricky” – how many oenophiles tasted Jura wines? And the trickiest question of all – how many of you, my readers, tasted Jura wines? No, you don’t need to answer – Jura wines are almost impossible to find in US, and very difficult to find outside of France in general, so it is not surprising that they are not winning popularity contests, and thus it is really not your fault that you are not familiar with Jura wines.

We live in the times of the dramatic globalization of wine. Not only wine is exceedingly produced in the new and unusual places, but wine availability is becoming more and more global. No, Jura is not a newcomer to the world of wine, if anything, it is quite the opposite – Jura wines had been produced for more than two thousand years. The global availability is what changed – as consumers demand more and different wines, Jura wines, which are definitely unique and different, are becoming better known and more demanded.

Few days ago I was lucky to attend the wine tasting in New York City, called Passion for Jura, which was a great learning experience. The event consisted of seminar and walk around tasting, with more than 20 producers represented. Before we talk about wines themselves, lets take a look at the Jura region and many of its unique qualities first.

Jura region is a narrow stretch of land, about 50 miles long and less than 2 miles wide, in the north-west part of France, sandwiched between Burgundy and Switzerland. First mentions of the Jura region go all the way back to 80 A.D. When it comes to the different aspects of terroir, climate in Jura is somewhat similar to Burgundy, with the potential for more severe cold temperatures, especially during winter time. Soils are probably the most unique aspect of Jura terroir, with some of the shale formations aging between 200 and 230 million years – so yes, you can probably find dinosaur imprints in that soil, if you look deep enough. Overall, the difference in the age of soil can be quite dramatic, tens of millions of years between the neighboring vineyards.

Jura wines were well regarded in France, with Arbois (one of the main towns in the region) wines being known for what they are since the 10th century, and Château-Chalon wines (this is where the famous Vin Jaune is made) being well known since the 16th century. Similarly to all other winemaking regions in France, Phylloxera wrecked havoc in Jura’s wine industry. Before the Phylloxera, Jura region had about 50,000 acres under the vine, with 42 grape varieties, out of which 14 were identified in 1774 as “good grapes”. Today, Jura region has only about 5,000 acres planted, and only 5 varietals are used in the winemaking. Of course everything has two sides – only the best areas were replanted after the Phylloxera epidemic, and only with the grapes which produced the best results, so yes, there is silver lining in most everything in this life.

It is impossible to talk about Jura and not to mention a few of the famous people who dramatically impacted the wine world, while living in Jura at the same time. First, of course is Louis Pasteur, whose seminal work “Studies its diseases, their causes and new preservation and aging process“, published in 1886, was really a key element of the modern oenology. While Pasteur’s name is probably familiar to many, I wonder how many people will recognize the name of Alexis Millardet, also of Jura – meanwhile, he came up with the technique of grafting French vines on the American rootstock, which allowed to restart the French wine industry after the Phylloxera devastation. And the last person I would like to mention here is Joseph Girard, a resident of Arbois, who founded INAO (National Institute of Denominations of Origin) and was instrumental in establishing the AOC system of quality, which was subsequently copied all over the world. It is probably not very surprising that the very first AOC in France, established in 1936, was … the Arbois AOC!

Let’s talk about the grapes. Now, this is somewhat of the simple task, as there are only 5 grapes growing in Jura – 3 reds and 2 whites. Here they are:

Poulsard – indigenous red grape of Jura, sometimes also called Ploussard. Most planted red grape in Jura (about 40% of all red grape plantings), and about 14% of total grape plantings. Produces bright looking wines, almost Rosé in color, which are very refreshing and age quite well.

Trousseau – another red grape of Jura, part of the Savagnin family, most likely originated in Jura. The same grape is known as Bastardo in Portugal. Has about 8% of the total planted area, and about 22% of the red grape plantings. Often blended with Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir – was introduced in Jura in 14th century. Has about 13% of the total plantings, and a bit less that 40% of the red grape plantings. Early ripening variety, thus has high degree of risk of frost damage in spring.

Chardonnay – same as Pinot Noir, was introduced in Jura in 14th century. Also known as Melon d’Arbois in the north, and Gamay Blanc in the south. Few vignerons are still growing Melon á Queue Rouge, a rare red clone of Chardonnay. Chardonnay is the most popular grape in Jura, at about 43% of total area plantings and 2/3 of the white grapes plantings.

Savagnin – most famous grape of Jura, and the only one allowed to be used in Vin Jaune. Late ripening variety with low yield. makes up about 22% of the total grape plantings and about 1/3 of the white grape plantings.

Before we get to the styles of wines and regions, let me give you a few interesting numbers. With 5,000 acres planted, there are about 300 grape growers in Jura, each taking care of about 17 acres of vineyards. There are also about 200 producers and about 100 villages in the Jura region.

With only 5 grapes, Jura produces a great variety of stylistically very different wines. Historically, Jura wine were very unique, as oxidation always played a very important role in the white wines of Jura. While oxidation is great, as the oxidized wine can be preserved almost forever, it doesn’t necessarily appeal to the tastes of the mass of the wine drinkers in the world. Starting in 1990, the style of Jura wines started to change, to move from oxidized to fresh, generally more acceptable style. As the result, there is a number of styles which you need to be aware of in order to make sure the wine will actually taste as you would expect instead of “OMG, what is it???”. Additional problem is that these styles are not necessarily clearly indicated on the from label, so sometimes you really need to look through all the information on the labels and outside in order to understand what type of wine it is. The oxidation is only relevant to the white wines, so the styles of the white wines are:

  • Ouillé – non-oxidized
  • non-Ouillé – oxidized
  • Naturé – Savagnin wine in the oxidized style
  • Tradition – a blend of oxidized Savagnin and Chardonnay

For what I understand, all it means is that if you don’t see the word Ouillé somewhere on the label or description of the wine, there is a good chance that the wine will be oxidized – if anyone who reads this post has better knowledge of the subject, I would greatly appreciate the comment!

Tired yet? We are almost done! Last part – let’s talk about wine styles and appellations. Before we get to the Jura details, one general note. Have you noticed the words AOP showing up more and more on the wine labels, especially on the latest releases of wine? This is because the French government, following overall EU requirements, is changing the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) nomenclature to the AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée), so you should expect to see the words AOP more and more on the bottles of French wines.

Jura uses total of 6 appellation designations – 2 of them are product designations, and 4 are geographical designations. Additionally, there are two wines which can be made in different appellations but they still have very specific product requirements. Here we are:

Vin JauneCrémant du Jura AOP – this is the product AOP for Sparkling wines in Jura. Made by the traditional (méthode champenoise) method, with 9 month minimum aging on lees. The wine can be produced anywhere in Jura, using all 5 varietals. Grapes should be harvested by hand and whole-cluster pressed.

Macvin du Jura AOP – this is the product AOP for fortified dessert wines. Can be made anywhere in Jura AOPs using any of the 5 grapes. The wine is made by blending of 2/3 of unfermented grape juice with 1/3 of the local brandy, called Marc du Jura, which should be made at the same property from the grape skin pomace. The wine should be aged for at least 12 month in the oak barrels before release.

Arbois AOP – geographic AOP, the biggest in terms of production. All 5 grapes are grown and permitted in production of the wines, with all types of wine allowed for production.

Château-Chalon AOP – a dedicated geographic AOP for production of Vin Jaune. Savagnin is the only allowed grape, harvested late. If any other wines are made, they are designated as Côtes du Jura. For more details, please see below.

Côtes du Jura AOP – a geographic AOP. All 5 grapes are allowed to be used, and all styles of wines can be produced.

L’Étoile AOP – a geographic AOP, the smallest in Jura, consisting of only 4 villages. Only Chardonnay, Savagnin and Poulsard are allowed. All styles of the wines can be produced.

Vin Jaune – Most famous wine of Jura, so called “yellow” or “golden” wine. Can be made only out of the 100% Savagnin, in any of the 4 geographic AOPs. The grape is harvested late, and vinified as any other white wine would. After that, the wine is aged in the oak barrels which are not completely filled up. The barrels are never topped off and never racked. Similar to the Jerez, the thin film is formed on the wine’s surface, which is called The Veil – it allows the wine to age gently. The minimum age of the wine before it can be bottled is 6 years and 3 month. The wine requires pre-tasting prior to the bottling, and it is produced only in the good years. Vin Jaune is bottled in the special bottles called Clavelin, which contain 620 ml – Jura winemakers had to endure a long fight with the authorities in order to keep the historical, but not EU standard size (750ml) of the bottle.

Vin de Paille – the dessert! Generally produced from Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard and sometimes Trousseau in Arbois, L’Étoile or Côtes du Jura AOPs. The grapes are harvested early and then dried up either in the boxes or hanged up in the air for 3 -5 month. After pressing, the wine have to age for at least 3 years with minimum of 18 month in the oak.

Whew, and we are pretty much done. Believe it or not, but I think this is probably the longest ever post with the least number of pictures – if not The longest, then definitely one of the longest. Jura is unique and special region, as you will see when we will be talking about the wines in the next post, and I really wanted to give you all the information together, without breaking it into the pieces. If you are still reading it – I definitely want to thank you for your patience. I hope you learned something new here. Also, if you have an experience with Jura wines, your comments and opinion will be greatly appreciated. Hell, your comments will be greatly appreciated even if you never heard of Jura wines till today. With that, until the next time – cheers!



Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC4 Deadline Nears, What Vinotype Are You, Understanding Luxury Goods

October 16, 2013 8 comments

Vin JauneMeritage Time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #77, grape trivia – Savagnin. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about white grape called Savagnin, best known in the Jura region of France. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Australia makes wines from Savagnin grapes. However, when the grape was planted, it was assumed to be …?

A1: Albariño. We actually already talked about it when we run through the Albariño quiz, only in reverse (in the Albariño quiz, Savagnin was the answer).

Q2: Wine made from Savagnin was one of the most expensive wines ever sold at an auction. It was sold at about:

a. $98,000, b. $74,000, C. $47,000, d. $30,000

A2: b, ~$74,000. See the full answer below

Q3: Continuing previous question – do you know what wine was that? Bonus part: can you also identify the vintage?

A3: This wine was 1774 Arbois Vin Jaune, sold at an auction in France for €57,000, which would be about $77,000 considering today’s exchange rate.

Q4: Name at least two other wines, produced in the same way as way Vin de Paille, one of the popular wines made from Savagnin.

A4: To produce Vin de Paille, after the harvest, the grapes are dried out on the straw mats for a few month, to concentrate the flavors. Similar methods of production are used for Vin Santo, Amarone, Sfursat of Valtellina and a number of others.

Q5: Which reddish-skinned ( but technically white) grape is a close relative of Savagnin?

A5: Gewurztraminer. Savagnin is closely related to the whole Traminer family, and Gewurztraminer, “an aromatic Traminer” is known for its reddish skin.

There was very little participation in this quiz (sad, but mostly expected). We don’t have the winner, but I have to acknowledge Namie from Eat with Namie for her excellent attempt at the quiz.

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

First, a friendly reminder. Your Oops! moment is getting near – the deadline for #MWWC4 (Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #4) is next Wednesday, October 23rd.  The #MWWC4 is hosted by The Wine Kat, and the theme is Oops – you better get your wine oops together, or it will be a clear oops on your part… I have an idea, I hope to be able to find time to actually put it into the blog post, or oops.

Now, couple of interesting articles for you. First one is coming from The Wine Economist blog, where Mike Veseth is suggesting that all wine drinkers  can be divided into the four categories, or Vinotypes – sweet, hypersensitive, sensitive and tolerant. The concept of the Vinotype is described in the book by Tim Hanni, MW, and Mike is explaining the concept in his blog post – but you should probably read the book. In the post, there is also a link to the web site where you can quickly perform your Vinotype assessment. I actually did, and came out as “Tolerant” – I would probably accept that, but the description provided for the Toerant type didn’t match me for a second. Well, YMMV – see it for yourself.

The second post I want to bring to your attention comes from Seth Godin, who is one of the very few people I would call as my mentor. His understanding of the world is nothing less than stunning to me, and every time I read his daily blog posts, it is almost a revelation of a simple truth, right in front of you. Seth’s post, called Understanding Luxury Goods, has nothing to do with wine in the direct form. However, every time we scoff at a bottle of Screaming Eagle, or Chateau Petrus, or 1755 Taylor Port at a price of north of $3000, or 1966 DRC at $10,000, understanding of how the luxury works helps to put things in perspective. Read it for yourself, and better yet, subscribe for Seth’s blog – it will provide infinite value compare to your subscription price.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on the way! Until the next time, cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #31 – A Guessing Game: Ultimate Challenge, Part 1

September 29, 2012 11 comments

To finish off the wine reviews quiz series, today we are following the steps of the previous two wine quizzes (#29 and #30), only now going to the next level: you will need to match 5 reviews and 5 wines. Actually, that “finishing off” will separate into two separate quizzes – one for white wines and one for reds.

Here are your grape choices:

A. Chardonnay

B. Chenin Blanc

C. Sauvignon Blanc

D. Savagnin

E. Viognier

Here are the reviews. Just to make it a bit easier, note that all the reviews are for single-grape wines.

1. “Gently kissed with toast, giving the core of white peach, lemon and chamomile a broader frame of lightly toasted brioche and paraffin. A suave echo of flint chimes through the finish in this lovely rendering of the toasty style.”

2. “An enticing, lemony white that is both aromatic and rich on the palate. Apple and mineral notes combine with the lemon flavors that glide to a lingering finish”

3. “This has weight and depth but remains stylish, with ginger and glazed pear notes in reserve while persimmon, green almond and piecrust notes lead the way. Lovely cut on the finish keeps the ginger edge echoing. Should develop nicely in the cellar”

4. “Extremely rich and generous, with ripe, opulent peach, nectarine, apricot and tangerine flavors that are woven together on a full, lush body with smoke, spice, cedar and mineral details and a juicy acidity.”

5. “Intensely minerally and smoky, with a blanket of acidity behind the apple, sea salt and anise flavors. The long finish is bracing and powerful.”

Please provide the answers in the form of A1, B2 etc. Bonus question – provide country of origin for each grape/review combination. Double bonus – in addition to country, provide more precise appellation, like Finger Lakes, Oregon, etc (doesn’t have be exact, but it should be more narrow that the whole country).

Have fun, good luck and have a great weekend! Cheers!

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