Wednesday Special: The Jura

April 9, 2014
Jura Wine Region
Resting between Burgundy and the border of Switzerland in eastern France is the obscure and intriguing wine producing region of the Jura.  Vineyards are mostly planted in a 50 mile strip along the lower-lying western section of the Jura Mountains.  The vineyard land today is only one-tenth of its pre-phylloxera size.Within the Jura, there are six AOCs: Cotes du Jura, Cremant du Jura, Arbois, L’Etoile, Chateau-Chalon and Macvin du Jura.  The Cotes du Jura appellation, established in 1937, covers the majority of the region and most styles of wines produced.  Cremant du Jura appellation, created in 1995, is for sparkling blanc or rose wines typically made in a blend.  The Arbois appellation is in the north and covers 13 communes, of which the most highly regarded is Pupillin.  Red, white and rose wines are produced here.  L’Etoile is named for the star-shaped marine fossils found around the village.  The Chateau-Chalon AOC is exclusively for vin jaune wines from the area.  Macvin du Jura AOC is for sweet, fortified, late harvest wines from any of the five permitted varieties.  Due to the region’s isolation, much of its traditional winemaking techniques are still in common practice and its three traditional grape varieties still dominate the landscape.  The Jura is known for producing white wines ranging from completely oxidized to not.  Its most striking wine is the Vin Jaune or “yellow wine.”  Made only in the best vintages from 100% Savagnin, this wine is aged in barrels that are not topped off for at least six years under a layer of yeast known as voile.  It slowly oxidizes to develop complex and lingering notes of nuts, raisins and truffles.  These wines are known to age in bottle for centuries.  A different style of oxidized wines, which are topped off, are often labeled as Ouille.  

There are three traditional and two non-traditional grape varieties grown in the Jura.  Savagnin, also referred to as Nature, is the traditional white variety used for oxidized and non-oxidized still wines and for sparkling wines.  Poulsard, or Ploussard, is used to make dry red wines and sparkling roses.  It is very light and thin skinned, and is often blended in still or sparkling wines as a blanc de noir.  Trousseau is grown in more limited production due to its slower ripening.  It is mostly grown in Arbois and produces a slightly more full-bodied and more deeply colored wine.  Both red grapes express berry and earthy aromas.  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, known as Melon d’Arbois or Gamay Blanc, are used in blends or alone.  Single-varietal wines from these varieties are fresher and fruitier in style than traditional Savagnin or blended wines.

The soil throughout the Jura is composed of Jurassic limestone and marlstone, similar to Chablis and the upper Loire.  The Jurassic era is named after the Jura Mountains where the limestone was first identified.  The summers in the region are warm and dry and the winters are cold.  Vines are planted along the western section of the mountains with south-facing vineyards to maximize sun exposure.  The vines are trellised high to avoid frost damage.  


Stock List- Jura Wines Here Now:
Berthet-Bondet Cotes De Jura Chardonnay 2011 ($24.95) $21.90 special, 31 bottles available
Importer Note
 “100% Chardonnay, 17 year old vines. Gravel and marl soil. A pure Chardonnay that speaks clearly of the Jura region. It is barrel-aged for 12 months in principally neutral barrels (the % of new oak varies from 8 to 16%), according to classic methods with topping up to avoid oxidation. The wine is fresh, pure Chardonnay with the distinct notes of the Jura terroir or earth and hay. Serve it with poultry or veal associated with mushrooms, and cheese. “
Berthet-Bondet Cotes De Jura Nature 2011 ($26.95) $21.90 special, 21 bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points
 “Apple, fennel seed and creamed melon notes glide along, woven with a waxy hint and followed by an echo of salted butter on the finish. Nice persistence and range. Naturé is a synonym for Savagnin.” Non-Oxidized, 100% Savagnin
Berthet-Bondet Cotes De Jura Rubis 2012 ($23.95) $19 special, 43 bottles available
From The Winery
 “Made with 45% Trousseau, 45% Poulsard and 10% Pinot Noir this wine is characterized by its lightness and the complex bouquet of red fruits and earthy character. It can be kept for up to 5 years and is best served at 14ºC with charcuterie, smoked meats, grills and meat with fruit dishes such as pork with roasted apple.”

Caves Jean Bourdy Cotes Du Jura Rouge 2009 ($27.95) $24 special, 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate:
 “Wines from Jean-Francois Bourdy’s small cellar in Arlay have been trickling into the world’s wine markets with increasing regularity over the past decade (though there is a history of these wines in the U.S. even before World War II), causing considerable waves, an American fan club having accumulated, with buzz centering understandably around the Bourdys’ huge assortment of vintages spanning well more than a century. What I tasted on the occasion of my November visit, however, was (with one memorable, antique exception) a small collection constituting the estate’s most recent releases rather than library wines, and whose quality was fine if not extraordinary. There can, however, be little question that Bourdy is very serious about achieving high quality the hard way. He was certified biodynamic in 2006, and he insists that what he and his brother Jean-Philippe are bottling today from the family’s 25 acres of vines will stand the test of time just as well as have the ancient wines on which he claims to – ‘with no adaptation,’ as he puts it – explicitly model his contemporary vinification.”

Annie et Philippe Bornard Arbois-Pupillin Le Blanc de la Rouge Chardonnay 2008 ($29.95) $24 special, 5 bottles available

Ganevat Sul Q NV 375ML ($79.95) $69 available, 2 bottles available
Dessert wine; 100% Savagnin, biodynamic, native yeast fermentation

Ganevat Vieux Macvin Du Jura NV ($54.95) $44 special, 1 bottle available
Fortified dessert wine, 100% Savagnin, biodynamic, native yeast fermentation

Ganevat Vin Jaune 2004 375ML ($89.95) $77 special, 2 bottles available
100% Savagnin, vineyard is blue marl planted in 1948, biodynamic, native yeast fermentation

Labet Chardonnay Varrons 2011 ($32.95) $28 special, 3 bottles available
From two parcels with vines averaging 70 years old and from a selection massale of 25 to 40 different chardonnay plants. Elevation is 280 meters and the slope has an eastern exposure.

Labet Poulsard Vieilles Vignes 2009 ($27.95) $24 special, 8 bottles available
100% old vine Poulsard

Michel Gahier Trousseau Le Clousot 2012 ($29.95) $26 special, 4 bottles available

Puffeney Cuvee Sacha Arbois Blanc 2011 ($37.95) $33 special, 11 bottles available
Savagnin and Chardonnay blend, aged in foudres with no topping off, bottled approximately 2 years after harvest, unfiltered and unfined
Importer note: “This cuvée is Jacques Puffeney’s blend of Savagnin with Chardonnay.  Although the percentages change year-to-year, there is usually about twice as much Chardonnay in the blend as Savagnin.  This, too, is vinified in the classic Jura style: aged in foudres, no topping off, bottled two or so years after harvest.  The “Sacha” is a compelling wine of great length and complexity.”

Puffeney Poulsard “M” Arbois Rouge 2011 ($31.95) $28 special, 13 bottles available
Importer note:
 “The “Cuvée M” is a special bottling of Poulsard that comes from vineyards located exclusively within the confines of Puffeney’s home village of Montigny-les-Arsures.  Vinified in a manner similar to its companion Poulsard, the “Cuvée M” is somewhat more substantial with firm tannins in the finish.” Unfiltered and unfined

Puffeney Trousseau Arbois Les Berangeres Rouge 2011 ($41.95) $37 special, 6 bottles available
Importer note:
 “Here is perhaps the exceptional red of the Puffeney domaine.  Montigny is famed for its Trousseau and Puffeney’s version sets the standard.  Bottled without filtration after a twenty-month elevage in foudres, this Trousseau has a faded ruby-red color, the entrancing nose of game, fur, wild berries and pine, a mineral-infused flavor profile and grainy tannins.” Unfiltered and unfined

Tissot Chardonnay En Barberon Jura 2010 ($39.95) $33 special, 17 bottles available
Wine Advocate 91-92 points
 “Tasted assembled in tank, whence it was not due to have been bottled any sooner than this spring, the Tissot 2010 Cotes du Jura Chardonnay En Barberon delivers a fascinating and head-turning amalgam of citrus, apple, and resinous herbs, with saliva-inducing, sweet and saline savor that seems to marry elements of oyster liquor and fresh scallop. Grown in the commune of Brery on chalky soils reminiscent of those in Chateau Chalon, this Chardonnay of refined texture, subtly complex, and combining richness with lift, is likely to merit a decade if not longer attention span.”

Tissot Chardonnay En Barberon Jura 2011 ($39.95) $33 special, 10 bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points
 “Well-focused, with a light hazelnut frame that lends a firm edge to the core of melon, apple, pear and ginger. A hint of bitter almond extends the finish. Chardonnay. Drink now through 2014”