Jura Wine Book Shortlisted for Prestigious Award

Roederer Wine Writers Awards ShortlistI am proud to announce that my book ‘Jura Wine’ has been shortlisted for the prestigious award of Louis Roederer International Wine Book of the Year in the 10th International Wine Writers’ Awards 2014.

The International Wine Book of the Year 2014 is sponsored by Domaines Faiveley.

Judges for all the categories in competition were Jamie Goode, Robert Joseph, Gabriella Opaz and Margaret Rand, chaired by Charles Metcalfe.

It is a real honour to be included on this list with the other four books which are as follows:

The Champagne Guide 2014-2015
by Tyson Stelzer

Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and sparkling wine
by Tom Stevenson & Essi Avellan MW

The New California Wine
by Jon Bonné

The World Atlas of Wine 7th Edition
by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson OBE MW

The winner will be announced at a special event for all the Louis Roederer Wine Writers’ Awards in London on Tuesday 9 September 2014.

Read the article on Wine-Searcher for more details on the awards.

If you haven’t yet purchased the book, check out the reviews and the book stockists soon as stocks are going down … There will be an e-book in the next month or so, so look out for that, however it won’t look half as good as the printed book and will not be heavily discounted either.

Thanks are due once again to all who encouraged me to write the book, supported its publication, purchased it in advance or bought it more recently, as well as everyone who helped me so much in its production. Thanks too to all the Jura vignerons and their wines, without whom there would, of course, be no book.

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Domaine Chevassu-Fassenet

The number of vigneronnes or women winegrowers in the Jura is small, but they are all strong characters who have built up great respect for their wines. Managing her 4.5ha of vineyards from vine to sales as many do here, the last thing Marie-Pierre Chevassu-Fassenet, a mother of three girls, has time for is to build a website, hence you may not have come across her or her estate’s wines. But both are well worth getting to know.

In this next excerpt from the Jura Wine book (check out the latest reviews!) read about Marie-Pierre, who is based in the most traditional part of the Jura wine region, the appellation of Château-Chalon. Her Château-Chalon (or technically that made by her father, but bottled by her) is offered by the glass in Raymond Blanc’s prestigious Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons restaurant near Oxford.

A typical stone marker showing the vineyards of Domaine Chevassu-Fassenet in the AOC vineyards of Château-Chalon ©Mick Rock/Cephas

A typical stone marker showing the vineyards of Domaine Chevassu-Fassenet in Menétru-le-Vignoble, part of the AOC Château-Chalon © Mick Rock/Cephas

Les Granges-Bernard is a wonderful old Jurassien farm surrounded by pastures on the plateau behind Menétru, and it is here that Marie-Pierre Chevassu-Fassenet was brought up with her three sisters. Her mother Marie came from a family of vignerons and her father Denis farmed mainly cows. He took on some vineyards in the 1980s and, as all his daughters enjoyed helping, he expanded the business and started making and selling wine. Marie-Pierre chose a career in wine and after wine studies in Beaune and an oenology degree at Dijon she worked in New Zealand, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Champagne before returning to work in the Jura for several years as cellar manager at La Maison du Vigneron [the largest négociant in the Jura]. She took over the wine estate in 2008, whilst one of her sisters runs the farm.

Marie-Pierre Chevassu-Fassenet

Marie-Pierre outside the farmhouse Les Granges Bernard © Brett Jones

Marie-Pierre’s husband, Cédric Fassenet, is a theatre director in Lons, but helps with tastings, and Marie-Pierre continues to receive help from her parents. However, she is very keen to keep the estate small, in particular so that she can take care of the vineyards personally, and everything is worked in a sustainable way. Marie-Pierre manually hoes 3ha of the vineyards but explains that, due to erosion of the steep slopes, there are some parcels in Château-Chalon where it is simply impossible to work without herbicide. She uses systemic treatments early and late in the season but is a keen member of the local group working in lutte raisonnée towards Terra Vitis certification. The atmospheric cellars at the farm are full of old wood from large foudres down to fûts and feuillettes.

The biggest change that Marie-Pierre has made since taking over has been with the two reds, which she makes in a resolutely modern Jura way, with careful sorting at harvest during the manual destemming and filling the tanks with carbon dioxide to avoid using SO2 at harvest. There is no oak ageing. The resulting Pinot Noir (I have not tasted the Poulsard) is deliciously full of fruit, with a touch of CO2 gas that disappears with some aeration. Whites are no less carefully thought out, but this time resolutely traditional, never topping up, yet for the excellent Chardonnay, aged in foudres or demi-muids, there is only a hint of the oxidative character: the process simply brings out the minerality of the marl soil.

The Savagnins, which come from En Beaumont, are aged in three locations: a small amount in a loft, another small part in a semi-underground cellar, and three-quarters underground, meaning, as is classic for Château-Chalon, less temperature variation during ageing, aiming at finesse and elegance. The Château-Chalons since 1999 have been blended and bottled by Marie-Pierre, but of course were vinified by her father Denis until 2008. There is, however, a Savagnin 2008 already released and I sense from this there will be changes, with Marie-Pierre bringing out even more elegance and finesse in these wines, which need plenty of time open to show their best. A delicious Vin de Paille made from Chardonnay, Savagnin and Poulsard and a Chardonnay Macvin are very good too. This is a fine estate in excellent hands.

The UK importer for Domaine Chevassu is Les Caves de Pyrène and the wine is exported in small quantities to other countries too.

clavelin Château-Chalon

A clavelin of Château-Chalon from Domaine Chevassu © Mick Rock/Cephas

Domaine Chevassu-Fassenet
Les Granges Bernard, 39210 Menétru-le-Vignoble
Tel: 03 84 48 17 50
Email: mpchevassu@yahoo.fr
Contact: Marie-Pierre Chevassu-Fassenet
Established: 1980
Vineyards: 4.5ha (80% Chardonnay and Savagnin, 20% Poulsard and Pinot Noir)
Visits: No tasting room, but visits welcomed by appointment

 

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Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot

As I write, last minute preparations are taking place for the second annual official Wines of Jura trade tasting in London, which takes place tomorrow. Twenty producers will be present each showing six wines on their tables. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon I host a masterclass giving an introduction to the wines of the region. And, at 1pm we will be celebrating the Jura wine book with a taste of four rather special Crémants du Jura.

The great thing about this Jura trade and press tasting is that even though several producers have agents already, it is the producers themselves who come over to present their wines for tasting. The profile that follows is of one of these producers who has not yet found an agent and is my second excerpt from the book. Based in Montigny, this is the least well-known Tissot domaine, run today by Jean-Christophe and his sister Valérie Tissot, whose parents Jean-Louis and Françoise founded the domaine. The two women of the estate – Françoise and her daughter Valérie, who speaks English, will be at the tasting. Valérie is also president of next year’s Percée du Vin Jaune, which takes place in the village of Montigny on Saturday 31 January and Sunday 1 February.

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot -
Montigny-les-Arsures, Arbois

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot

Valérie and Jean-Christophe outside the house in Les Arsures ©Mick Rock/Cephas

Sister and brother, bubbly Valérie and shy Jean-Christophe Tissot run this estate, but their retired parents Françoise and Jean-Louis lend them a willing hand, Françoise helping out with tastings and Jean-Louis in the vineyard – for them, retirement is theoretical. Françoise Masson from the hamlet of Vauxelles, between Arbois and Montigny, married Jean-Louis Tissot from Montigny (2km away) in 1965; she had two grandparents closely connected with the wine business. On her father’s side, Albert Masson ran a service making sparkling wines for vignerons, important even back in the early 20th century. On her mother’s side, Albert Piroutet was one of the founders of the Arbois Fruitière and among those who worked hard for Arbois to obtain the AOC in 1936. Françoise’s father also joined the cooperative and she inherited his vines to pool with the 1.6ha that Jean-Louis inherited from his father Maurice Tissot. In the early years Jean-Louis was part of the Fruitière too, but after planting 8ha of vines in 1990 they decided to start producing their own wines.

Valérie studied wine production at Mâcon-Davayé and Jean-Christophe at Beaune. Today Valérie runs the commercial side of the business and Jean-Christophe makes the wine and is in charge of the vineyards together with their father Jean-Louis. They own various parcels around Montigny, including a few hectares in Les Bruyères with its heavy marl ideal for Poulsard and Savagnin. The vines are grassed down every other row, using herbicide only under the vine rows, and managed on lutte raisonnée lines with one full-time employee and three seasonal workers. Harvest is partly by hand and partly by machine and a small quantity of grapes is sold to the Cellier de Tiercelines négociant. Originally the wine was made and matured in Vauxelles, but in the early 2000s they bought a large house in Les Arsures, where Jean-Louis and Françoise moved together with Jean-Christophe. They installed a winery in the outbuildings with a ventilated loft area to dry Vin de Paille grapes and to age barrels for Vin Jaune, although most of the wine ageing remains in Vauxelles.

Vin Jaune ageing

Valérie & Jean-Christophe Tissot with the barrels of Vin Jaune they age in a loft area. ©Mick Rock/Cephas

Winemaking is simple and traditional. Reds are vinified in cement tank and, in the case of Trousseau and the Rouge Tradition (one-third each of Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir), aged in foudres. These reds in good years can be juicy and sappy, traditionally structured with those earthy tannins that are unexpected after the very pale colour of the wines. The Trousseau ages particularly well. There are two Chardonnays. The main cuvée is aged in tank and foudres, providing an excellent example of simple Arbois appley, mineral Chardonnay, needing a little time to emerge, and the Cuvée Jean-Christophe is partly aged in oak barrels; this is less successful. All Savagnin is aged for potential Vin Jaune and some withdrawn for a Reserve blend of 40% together with the classic Chardonnay, and some for a Savagnin. These are both decent examples, but the Vin Jaune shines as a very oxidative, nutty Arbois style with a touch of elegance.

This branch of the Tissot family may be less visible than the others, but the domaine is well worth seeking out for good-value, true-to-type wines produced by a family of real ambassadors for Arbois and its wines. So far they have not exported, selling directly to consumers and through wholesalers in France.

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot
Vauxelles, 39600 Montigny-les-Arsures
Tel: 03 84 66 13 08
Email: valerie.tissot@wanadoo.fr
Web: domaine-jeanlouis-tissot.com
Contact: Valérie Tissot
Established: 1976 (vineyards 1965)
Vineyards: 17ha (6ha Chardonnay, 4ha Savagnin, 4.5ha Poulsard, 2ha Trousseau, 0.5ha Pinot Noir)

Categories: Events and Tastings, Jura Wine book excerpts, Producers | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Domaine de la Renardière (Jean-Michel Petit)

Starting today around two or three times a month I will post an excerpt from the Jura Wine Book, often with a small addendum. I will include illustrations too that are either used in the book, or from the photo shoot that I did with Mick Rock of Cephas. All images are fully copyrighted of course, as is the text.

If you have not yet bought the book, I hope this might encourage you to do so – you can find stockists and comments about the book on the new Jura Wine book page.

Domaine de la Renardière – Pupillin, Arbois

Jean-Michel Petit Pupillin

The mural outside Domaine de la Renardière in Pupillin shows Jean-Michel and his wife Laurence. ©Mick Rock/Cephas

He might be running between commitments, but Jean-Michel always offers a twinkly smile together with a straight answer to any question. More than anyone in Pupillin, Jean-Michel has been as much involved in the ‘mother appellation’ Arbois as he has in his own village. AOC Arbois syndicate president for many years, I’ve seen him carrying the Biou in Arbois; he was president of the Percée festival in Arbois in 2011; and he always turns up to greet the media with a regional hat firmly on his head. Somehow, between supporting his village, region and even the young and up-and-coming producers in the appellation, he finds time to produce a consistently lively and eminently drinkable range of wines. Jean-Michel’s stated aim in his brochure is to ‘make music from the mosaic of soils below our feet’, but the imprint on his labels is of a hand – his own, representing the importance of hand-harvesting, lending a hand and much more.

Quite rightly, the vineyards are the focus for Jean-Michel. Growing up in Pupillin (distantly related to the other Petit family in the village) with parents and grandparents who farmed vines and took their grapes to the cooperative, he returned after five years of wine studies and work experience around the world of wine to create his own estate with his wife Laurence. He took over his family’s 2ha of vines and accumulated other vineyards little by little, in various parcels on the different terroirs within Pupillin. He has always believed in working the soil and using only organic fertilizer and, after years working in lutte raisonnée, he made the move to start organic certification in 2012, although he had been using biodynamic preparations 500 and 501 on some of his plots for a couple of years.

The small winery lies on both sides of one of Pupillin’s side roads with an amusing and distinctive colourful mural showing several generations of the family adorning one side. Jean-Michel’s winemaking has always been thoughtful – vinifying the grapes from each plot apart, fermentation using indigenous yeast, and little use of other standard winery interventions. Apart from for Ploussard, he is not likely to go down the no sulphur route, yet he told me that, as with most producers, today he uses around a third of the amount of SO2 than when he started making wine 20 years ago.

Domaine de la Renardière Pupillin

Jean-Michel Petit in front of some of his foudres ©Mick Rock/Cephas

All styles of whites and reds are matured in wood of varying sizes. Reds, including Ploussard, are aged in large foudres – his is the example from this village that I have always found to be one of the most accessible. Yet it is his clear-cut topped-up whites that really sing, starting with the tangy and lemony Savagnin ouillé Les Terrasses, which comes from a steep south-facing terraced plot. From the mid-2000s Jean-Michel has made two Chardonnay cuvées that show the Jura terroir character well – Jurassique is from plots with more limestone and the more profound Les Vianderies is from older vines in a gravelly vineyard with marl below – the latter is aged in both 500-litre and 228-litre barrels.

In his quiet way Jean-Michel has experimented with his range without extending it dramatically as some wineries do, keeping to a modest (for the Jura) 14 different wines. A late-harvest white blend of two-thirds Chardonnay and one-third Savagnin was once called Vendange Oublié (‘Forgotten Harvest’ – as it literally was the first time it was made) and has morphed into Les Oubliées, as the labelling fraud squad did not like the original name. The wine is made only in good years and, though usually dry, can be rather over-rich for my taste, but with plenty of intensity of flavour. The usual range of specialities from Crémant through to Vin Jaune, Paille and Macvin are made but account for only a quarter of production, including the Pétillant Naturel called Le Pet de Léo. This was first made by son Léo at 14 years old from a Ploussard vineyard planted in 1993, the year of his birth. Léo has studied wine production at Mâcon and is continuing his education in marketing at Suze-la-Rousse, so this estate should be in safe hands in the future.

Domaine de la Renardière exports account for about a third of sales, but it is the combination of a well-deserved string of medals in French wine competitions and mentions in guides, with a very open and educational approach to welcoming customers at the estate, that keeps his regular French customers returning. For several years each Saturday in June Jean-Michel and Laurence have conducted vineyard tours, followed by a tasting and lunch, an innovative approach for the Jura and something that has helped build up their loyal following. I sincerely hope that they throw a big party to celebrate the quarter-century of their domaine, which is a huge credit to the Arbois-Pupillin appellation, a valeur sûre or safe bet, as they say in France.

Domaine de la Renardière sign ©Mick RockDomaine de la Renardière
Rue du Chardonnay, 39600 Pupillin
Tel: 03 84 66 25 10
Email: renardiere@libertysurf.fr
Contact: Jean-Michel Petit
Established: 1990
Certification: Ecocert
Vineyards: 6.8ha (2.4ha Chardonnay, 1.3ha Savagnin, 1.7ha Ploussard (Poulsard), 0.7ha Trousseau, 0.7ha Pinot Noir)
Visits: Tasting room, visits welcomed by appointment

.

Jean-Michel has been promising to publish his own website for some time!

The wines are imported into the UK by Enotria UK and at their trade tasting in February 2014 Brett Jones recorded a short interview with Jean-Michel Petit. Some of the range is available from The Wine Society.

In New York Domaine de la Renardière wines are sold in the Wine Library and at Zachys, among other places. Please feel free to add other stockists in the comments.

 

 

 

Categories: Jura Wine book excerpts, Producers | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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