Author Archives: Wink Lorch

About Wink Lorch

I've been a wine writer, editor and educator for many years. I live partly in London and partly in the French Alps in Haute Savoie. I love all good, drinkable wine especially those produced in sight of big mountains. In the past few years I've become a specialist on the wines of Jura and Savoie and have written on these areas for many publications. In 2014 I self-published my first book, Jura Wine, which subsequently won the André Simon Best Drinks Book award. In 2017 I will publish a second book - Wines of the French Alps - Savoie, Bugey and beyond.

Worldwide Wines Inspired by Jura

In the past year I’ve had the chance to try several Jura-inspired wines of the world. By this, I mean wines made with the Jura grapes Savagnin or Trousseau, grown outside France and/or wines inspired by Jura’s oxidative methods.

Traditionalists in the Jura wine region tend to become very worried by talk of any trend like this – there are even laws to stop other AOC wine regions in France using these grapes. The same attitude is held by the Savoie AOC authorities about that region’s indigenous varieties. For this outsider, at any rate, this viewpoint is ridiculous – not only do we all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it provides wonderful publicity for the original; drinkers who discover the newcomers often want to try the original.

In the Jura Wine book I wrote about these wines briefly in Appendix 3, telling the stories of the emergence of California Trousseau and Australian Savagnin. If you own the book, do take a look; and if you don’t, order the book direct from my site Wine Travel Media (quicker and usually cheaper than Amazon) – the book is still over 90% up to date despite being already three years old! Since the book was published, several other Trousseau and Savagnins have appeared on my radar, so below are some brief thoughts and comments.

Trousseau - Eyrie Vineyards labelTROUSSEAU
In what seems like a wonderfully low-key ‘first’, Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards (famous for its Pinot Noir, pioneered by Jason’s father David Lett in the 1960s) was the first in the Willamette Valley of Oregon to have released a Trousseau wine last year. Having tasted Jura Trousseau, Jason thought it might be ideal to plant the grape in the region and he’s not alone. A small group of Oregon wineries has followed suit planting Trousseau, including Analemma in the Columbia Gorge, whose worthy attempt I tasted from demijohn. Even amphora-specialists Beckham Estate of Willamette Valley are planting it… I see an Oregon-Trousseau trend emerging. At a tasting at Eyrie last August, Jason revealed his first release, the 2015 Eyrie Vineyards Trousseau and it was spot on – pale-coloured with a blueberry character, some earthy notes and good acid grip. He made it with no added sulphur.

On a brief trip to Porto last year, we visited the enjoyable wine bar PROVA a couple of Portuguese Bastardotimes and I purchased a bottle of Conceito Bastardo 2014 to take home. Sporting a delightfully original label, it was young so has lain in our cellar until a few weeks ago, when I opened it, yearning for a break from Savoie and Bugey wines, which I’m tasting at full-stretch in preparation for the next book, Wines of the French Alps.

If you weren’t aware, Portugal’s Bastardo is genetically identical to Jura’s Trousseau, even though several growers in the Jura emphatically deny it is possible. Although Portugal has over 1,000 hectares there are few wines from 100% Bastardo, as much is grown in old mixed vineyards in the Douro and used for blending, usually for Port. This varietal example is from the Conceito winery (the brand name means ‘concept’) based in the Douro Valley.  Wine Grapes has little good to say about unfortified varietal Trousseau, but this wine is a cracker, with light colour, a cherry-like nose, good acidity, balanced alcohol (13.5%) and lovely fruit. It was definitely less rustic and earthy than a Jura Trousseau, but a really enjoyable wine.

SAVAGNIN
Late last summer on a visit to the Haute Savoie vineyards just south of Lac Léman, I finally went to the biodynamically-run estate Les Vignes de Paradis, owned by Dominique Lucas, one of the up-and-coming Savoie stars. For me, the excitement lies in his range of Chasselas from the vineyards of Crépy, Marin and Marignin which he is making better than anyone in the region (more in the book to come). However, he has also planted a range of other varieties including Savagnin. Les Vignes de Paradis 2015 Savagnin IGP des Allobroges, which I tasted from that very hot vintage, had been made in concrete egg and weighed in at a hefty 14.5%, but it wore it well, with the wine showing surprising crispness and ripe lemon curd flavours. It had been open more than a week, yet was alive and kicking. An oddity, sporting a high price tag, it proved yet again what a magical grape this is.

Dominique Lucas

Dominique Lucas of Les Vignes du Paradis is ever the experimenter – the camera and hand belong to Mick Rock, photographer, shooting for the next book.

An enjoyable diversion at the Oregon stands at London’s Real Wine Fair, led me to taste Coury Old Vine Savagnin Rose from Jeff Vejr’s Golden Cluster winery. I’m including it here even though Savagnin Rose [no accent!] is not grown in the Jura as far as I know – surprisingly it is not the same as the Savagnin Muscaté grown by a few growers like Marnes Blanches (for its cuvée Savagnin Le Jensillard) in the Sud Revermont, but instead is the non-aromatic version of Gewurztraminer, known best in Alsace as Klevener de Heiligenstein. All are genetically identical, though. From a vineyard planted 50 years ago by a pioneering rare grape grower in Oregon, Charles Coury, honoured by Jeff Vejr in several of his fascinating wines, this Savagnin Rose was simply-speaking delicious – a triumph for this rare grape.

Garry Crittenden is a brilliantly persistent marketeer and one of those who did much to put Australian wine on the map in the UK especially 25 years ago. His son, Rollo is an excellent winemaker and Garry’s successor at Crittenden Estate in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular region – he is also a huge Jura wine fan. Thanks to both Garry and Rollo, I was able to taste their very first vintage of sous voile (oxidative, under-the-veil-of-yeast) Savagnin 2011, named Cri de Coeur before I published Jura Wine so I wrote about it in that appendix 3. And, they hosted Brett and I for an all-too-fast visit when I was in Melbourne in early 2015 when we were able to taste the 2013 while still in barrel. In May, clever Garry alerted me to the fact that Jancis Robinson MW had a spare sample bottle of the Crittenden Estate Cri de Coeur Savagnin 2013, so as I was briefly in London, off I went to retrieve it so that I could taste it, giving it to others blind at the end of a celebration tasting for the success of the Kickstarter campaign for Wines of the French Alps.

Crittenden Estate, Mornington, Australia

Rollo and Garry Crittenden. © Brett Jones.

This is a part of what I wrote to Garry afterwards: “I tasted this with a group of wine educators and keen wine consumers last night AFTER a whole series of Savoie and other French Alps wines and for many, after a long day of tastings! I gave it to them blind stating it had nothing to do with the French Alps. First reaction, especially on nosing it, from several, was – well, it must be Jura (of course, they were a little biased being in my house!), so I said no and they agreed it was oxidative but probably not Sherry. Then the palate surprised because it appears ‘sweeter’, but see below. Everyone was intrigued and most of them, impressed.

So, now I’ve re-tasted it – I had meant to open it early last night but it never happened, so Crittenden Cri de Coeur Savagninnow it’s been open 24 hours. For me it shows some walnuts and even classic spices, such as ginger and turmeric on the nose; on the palate, it is not as aggressive as some Jura oxidative Savagnin, showing almost sweetness, but it’s more of a textural creamy sweetness rather than sugar. The finish is very long and I see no reason for it not to age well for several years. A great success and much more Jura-like than the previous incarnation, but still shows the extra warmth of your location. Congrats to Rollo.”

Savagnin and Trousseau are right up there among the great grape varieties of the world, and while Jura shows the way, it’s such fun to explore their merits from elsewhere.

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Good and Bad Jura News plus Wines of the French Alps

First the bad news. I am writing this with a heavy heart, feeling desperately sorry for vignerons all over the Jura wine region, many of whom have been hit with severe frost damage over the past two nights and there is another freezing night to come. My Facebook stream abounds with photos and comments from vignerons who have lost some or all of their potential 2017 crop.

Frost in Jura - April 2017 - Jerôme Genée (2)

Leaves and baby grapes attacked by frost in the Jura, April 2017. Photos above and below by Jérôme Genée.

Many people in the region suggest that this is likely to be the worst spring frost since 1991 – conservative estimates are of 45% damage, but it could be worse. What makes this a particular catastrophe is that stocks in the vignerons’ cellars are very low following a string of small vintages since 2011. And, in general, especially for Jura wineries who export, especially those who are organic, sales are booming.Frost in Jura - April 2017 - Jerôme Genée (1)

Everyone feared this sort of cold snap following several weeks of extremely warm weather, which gave early bud-break and a big growth spurt too. Until the frost, the vine development was about three weeks earlier than average. The problem is not exclusive to the Jura, but widespread in France and other northerly wine countries. It can only be hoped that nature allows what remains to mature without further catastrophe.

Excellent and varied tasting events
And now to the good news. The 7th edition of Jura’s organic wine fair Le Nez dans le Vert in late March was very well attended once again. At the official opening, joint presidents Stéphane Tissot and Jean-Etienne Pignier said that increasing numbers of Jura estates were converting to organics and that nearly 20% of the vineyard area is now organic or in conversion. Stéphane noted that it takes double the labour force to farm one hectare of organic vineyard compared to conventional and thus organic estates were providing work opportunities. Etienne commented that the Le Nez dans le Vert group of vignerons is very dynamic and helps young organic vignerons get established.

Anne Ganevat pours at Le Nez dans le Vert 2017

Anne Ganevat pours samples to eager and early-arriving trade participants at Le Nez dans le Vert. Photo by Brett Jones

As ever, it was hard to get close to some of the star vignerons for tasting, but by going very early on the morning of the trade day, I managed to taste with Anne and Jean-François Ganevat for the first time in a while. The four whites from the 2014 vintage were pristine, with the magnum of Cuvée Marguerite, the Melon à Queue Rouge showing gorgeous richness combined with vibrancy.  I loved the Plein Sud Trousseau 2015 too, although the Pinot Cuvée Julien was too volatile for my taste. With Emmanuel Houillon, I tasted his lovely lemony, 2010 Savagnin (topped-up), which is still in foudres – he plans to bottle some of this later in the year.

With Edouard Hirsinger at LNDV 2017

It might have been hard to get near the star vignerons, but I was happy just saying hello to one of France’s most famous chocolatiers – Edouard Hirsinger from Arbois. Photo by Brett Jones.

Among many other stand-out whites were two Chardonnay 2015s, one from Domaine Berthet-Bondet, made from the vineyards in Passenans that they took over from Domaine Grand, and the other, Les Soupois from Domaine Buronfosse, showing that even in that warm year, if the vines are worked well and the grapes picked at the right point that tangy Jura acidity can still be present. Two Savagnin ouillés from Pascal and Evelyne Clairet shone –  the Fleur de Savagnin 2014 was really stony and their new release 2008 Réserve, topped up in barrel for three years and then aged in bottle, was intense and fabulous. I found a bargain Savagnin Ouillé 2012 from Gérard and Christine Villet, perfectly smokey, aged in old foudres for two years, ideal to enjoy over the next few years.

Of the reds I tasted, I fell for several blends (not all AOC) including 2016s (mainly still in tank or barrel) from Domaine Labet the predominantly-Gamay Métis; Alice Bouvot’s Zerlina, which is a Pinot/Trousseau blend; and the Vieux Cépages from Raphaël Monnier (Ratapoil), all almost ready to bottle. A finished 2015 of Domaine Pignier’s Cuvée Léandre was tasting as lovely as ever and I made the discovery of Domaine Buronfosse SE KWA SA (explanation said out loud the name is ‘c’est quoi ça’ means ‘what IS that?’) a 2015 blend of classic and old Jura varieties, which I decided to grab for drinking over the next couple of years, if it lasts that long in my cellar. Finally, the only Crémant I tasted – the bone dry Brut Nature from Champ Divin, was well … divine … and we should have bought some of that too.

Jura Seminar NYC 2017

The Jura Wines seminars I delivered in Chicago and New York were full with a waiting list. Photo by Brett Jones.

Over in Chicago and New York, the atmosphere at the official CIVJ Jura trade tastings was totally different, but every bit as enthusiastic. The room was full of sommeliers and enthusiastic educators in particular, as well as retailers, and it was great to see the Jura vignerons practice their English in relaxed mode away from home. I had only a little opportunity to taste as I was delivering seminars first, then selling books, but I managed to go through almost all the Chardonnays in the room in Chicago, then chose to focus on Trousseau in New York.

The US trade mission producers were  mainly (but far from exclusively) the region’s larger ones and it was great to see a really excellent average quality shining through. One new star on the export mission for the first time, was the biodynamic Domaine Ratte – and as I had limited tasting experience with them, I tasted their 2015 range, which showed very well. The evening consumer events were fairly riotous as space was tight, but showed the ongoing enthusiasm for Jura wines in the US. Jura wines are definitely not just a fashion, they have now been around, doing well and growing in the US for almost ten years…

Pouring Savoie at Chambers Street Wines while selling Jura Wine book - April 2017

Customers at Chambers Street Wines in NYC are still fascinated by Jura and indeed buying the Jura Wine book, but also interested in the next project …

Support the Kickstarter for Jura Wine‘s Companion Volume – Wines of the French Alps
In case you’ve missed the news elsewhere, at last I am working hard on a promised second book: Wines of the French Alps – Savoie, Bugey and beyond. Wines of the French Alps CoverThe book will be in the same style as the Jura Wine book but delving, at last, into the wines of Savoie and Bugey, and covering a few smaller Alpine areas further south.

In New York, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the book, as well as providing the motivation of hundreds of people waiting for it! The campaign is doing well and is nearly 75% funded, but I hope to exceed the target – book costs are always greater than they seem. I would appreciate your support for the campaign, whether by pledging for the book or another reward or sharing the Kickstarter link among your networks. The end date is May 8th, so please act soon.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/winklorch/wines-of-the-french-alps-savoie-bugey-and-beyond

Thank you and forgive the radio silence while I write this book!

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Jura tastings, events and a tour in 2017

Domaine Pêcheur Jura

Christian Pêcheur’s wines are newly available in the USA through Neal Rosenthal. ©Brett Jones

In 2016 the Jura went from strength to strength in terms of its wine distribution worldwide as well as its offering to tourists. Due to the latter, I get the impression that certain vignerons are inundated with requests for visits and hard-pressed to keep up with the demand on their time to host visitors. Group visits planned in advance make it easier for vignerons, and this year in October I will be leading an exciting tour, see below for details along with information about other tastings, seminars and a webinar.

Another challenging vintage
The 2016 vintage appears to have been a roller-coaster one, ending up with mixed results across the region, but considerably better than feared at the height of summer. The good news was that unlike several other French regions, Jura was almost miraculously spared from spring frost damage and there was only very localised hail damage. The bad news was the incredibly wet early summer that sent the levels of powdery mildew soaring, being too wet in some weeks for growers to even get into the vineyards to spray. Some crop was lost, especially Chardonnay; the gloriously sunny and hot July/August stopped the spread of disease but the next worry was extreme heat and drought that left growers greatly concerned as the vines shut down for a while, preventing grapes from ripening. It really was a nail-biting year, but as so often September saved the harvest bringing some essential rain near the start of the month and then fine, warm weather.

St-Lothain Jura vineyards

The end of an exhausting vintage year – 2016 in the vineyards of St-Lothain, Côtes du Jura. ©Brett Jones

Harvest started towards the end of September for most vignerons and was extended over several weeks. In the end, the sturdy and late-ripening Savagnin did well, but reports about the other varieties are varied. Interestingly, one might expect the organic growers to have suffered most, but in 2016 it seems that wasn’t the case at all. Hard work for those using some biodynamic methods paid off, giving the vines more strength to resist the drought, even if some volume was lost to mildew. Reports from some organic growers are that they actually sprayed fewer times than their conventional colleagues. I have not yet had a chance to taste the results, but first reports are that quality overall is good. Since 2011 there seems not to have been a ‘normal’ vintage in terms of quantity and quality, even if 2015 was unquestionably of very good quality.

Wine Scholar Guild embraces Jura education
Last year I conducted a one-hour webinar, called ‘Jura Ins & Outs’ for the burgeoning Wine Scholar Guild (formerly The French Wine Society). Usually only available for members of the Wine Scholar Guild, they have now made it free to view on YouTube.

This is in advance of two other events for them this year. Firstly, I shall be hosting a second webinar all about the producers and important people of Jura past and present on Wednesday 1st March – Jura Who’s Who … if you are a member of the Wine Scholar Guild, then do please join me online live and then you can ask questions.

And, the very exciting news is that I will be leading an exclusive 4-day Jura Wine study tour for the Wine Scholar Guild (but open also to non-members) in October. We will stay at the prestigious Hotel Château de Germigny, including two meals at its excellent 1-star Michelin restaurant. The details of the itinerary are on the link, but I should warn you that these are provisional – I hope to include as many fascinating producers possible in the time, but the choice will be restricted to those who can host a group of 15 people, so the very small, time-pressed vignerons are not included. Do spread the word among Jura wine lover friends – I know there are many who have been waiting for an opportunity to join a guided tour and this will be a very special one. My partner, Brett Jones, aka The Wine Maestro, will be accompanying me and the group as tour leader. Together we will ensure everyone gets the most out of the intensive visits, the tour around the region and the meals – and he is sure to take some great pictures too.

lndlv-2017Le Nez dans le Vert – Jura’s organic showpiece
The annual tasting show for over 40 of Jura’s organically-certified vignerons is back this year at Domaine de la Pinte, just outside Arbois. If you are connected to the trade or press, you can attend on the somewhat quieter Monday morning, followed by a wonderful lunch with all the vignerons. Otherwise, for consumers it’s still well worth attending on the Sunday, when the tasting is open all day.

Do read my post about the 2016 edition of the Nez dans le Vert tasting. I will not know until closer to the date if I can attend, but let me know privately if you are coming – I will bring some books to sell and to sign of course!

Frankly Wines hosts Wink Lorch and Jura wines

On a previous visit to NYC, where Frankly Wines kindly dubbed me the ‘Queen of the Jura’. ©Brett Jones

See you in New York and Chicago!
I’m very excited to be joining a group of 18 Jura producers for the region’s annual export trade tastings in the USA, this year to be held in Chicago on Monday 3rd April and in New York on Wednesday 5th April. Each morning I shall be presenting a comprehensive seminar and tasting; the tastings then stay open in the afternoon for trade and press, and re-open in the evening for consumers. I shall be around all day and evening and my books will be available to buy (bring cash please!) and sign. Of course, if you want me to sign your previously-purchased book, do bring it along to the event. The venues will be announced soon. For futher details, please contact Allison Slute at allison.slute@marqenergie.com.

Apart from the events above, Jura is taking somewhat a back seat for me in 2017 as I am working on my new book, Wines of the French Alps, focussing on Savoie, Bugey and other nearby French Alpine regions. If you follow this blog, please forgive a one-off email and a big social media drive next month about a Kickstarter campaign to support the publication of the new book.

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A Spring in the Jura’s step

A decade ago, when I wrote each year for the late-lamented annual guide, Wine Report, I was hard-pressed to find news in the Jura. Back then there was nothing much to report unless it was a little local argument between a producer and the wine authorities on labelling. Today I am hard-pressed to keep up with changes and developments, as well as forthcoming tasting events (see below).

Jura vignerons

All the vignerons at Le Nez dans le Vert, captured by Jerome Genée

Most, but not all, of the changes concern producers retiring and handing over the baton to the next generation, or new producers coming in, the latter particularly in the vibrant organic sector. Having attended Le Nez dans le Vert tasting in Paris in November, I came back for their annual tasting in the Jura in March, where there were even more discoveries to be made. Stéphane Tissot and Jean-Etienne Pignier have taken over managing Le Nez dans le Vert, the informal group of Jura organic growers, from Bruno Ciofi (it takes two to replace this ball of energy). They introduced the show by saying the Jura was the most organic region in France with around 17% of vineyards certified, producing 1 – 1.2 million bottles.

Arbois Domaine RatteI made a point of tasting with the newcomers to the group. Guillaume Gilet started his tiny 1.5-hectare Arbois estate Les Donneurs de Temps in 2012 following wine studies and a decade working around France for different organic producers. He has taken on various organic parcels and applied for official organic conversion status in 2014. His winemaking is super-natural and what I tasted gave hit and miss results – as they say in French, à voir (we will see). Also from Arbois is Michel-Henri Ratte, who farms 9 hectares and was previously part of the Arbois fruitière (wine co-operative). His estate is certified biodynamic and a taste of the 2015, the first vintage that he has made himself with wines bottled especially early for the show, were very promising, especially the reds. I look forward to finding out much more about this estate with a visit soon. Eric Thill, a grower with vineyards in Gevingey in the Sud Revermont, who appeared in my book, has also joined the group. His particular style, influenced by his Alsace origins, won’t suit everyone, but his wines are very clean – his wines are fully certified organic from the 2015 vintage.

Among other producers, I was not surprised to find several more experimental macerated white wines (orange-style) including a Savagnin 2015 from Domaine de la Pinte with very good potential, and from 2014 Savagnins from both Domaine des Bodines (Alexis Porteret) and Domaine Hughes-Béguet.

Domaine Buronfosse Jura

Jean-Pascal and a photo of his wife Peggy Buronfosse. © Brett Jones

But, the most enjoyable part of the tasting was discovering the quality of many of the 2015 reds, some bottled, others still in tank or barrel. The Poulsards in particular are tasting delicious – highlights were from Hughes-Béguet, La Pinte, Les Dolomies (Céline Gormally with her cuvée ‘A la Tienne Robert!’ serenely serving wines with her young baby – no. 3 – in a sling), Ratapoil (Raphaël Monnier) and Bodines. A barrel sample of Stéphane Tissot’s cuvée DD 2015 with one third each of Pinot, Poulsard and Trousseau, macerated for three months partly in concrete eggs and partly in wooden foudres, was delicious with great potential after what for me was an unsuccessful 2014. His Trousseau ‘15, aged in amphora, was also delicious – both are due to be bottled soon. Finally, 2014 white wines from the classic Sud Revermont domaines of Labet, Buronfosse, Miroirs (Kenjiro Kagami) and Champ Divin were tasting, well, quite divine. This really is a land of pristine, characterful and simply top-class Chardonnays.

Jerome Genée's Instants de VignesA table of books on sale was brightened by my book’s yellow cover and I was one of two authors present for signing, the other being the very modest photographer Jerome Genée. His beautiful book on biodynamic wine producers in the Jura, Instants de Vigne, was published at the end of last year. You can buy it direct from Jerome Genée’s website. In French, the text explains biodynamic practices as well as being lushly illustrated with photographs – it features Stéphane Tissot and Domaines Pignier, De la Pinte and Bourdy.

UK Jura events and tastings
At Tobacco Dock in London, The Real Wine Fair takes place on Sunday 17th (consumers/trade) and Monday 18th (trade/press only) April and this year there will be three Jura vignerons present – Julien Mareschal of Domaine de la Borde, François Rousset-Martin and … wait for it … Jean-François Ganevat on a rare visit to England. On Monday at 3.30pm I will be running a seminar, hopefully with Julien joining me, called ‘The Jura is In’ discussing what makes Jura currently the darling of sommeliers and indie wine shops.

Domaine de la Pinte will be at the other big natural wine event in London, The Raw Fair, that takes place on May 15th and 16th at the Old Truman Brewery in Spitalfields, London. On the subject of La Pinte, the big news is that this domaine’s director, Bruno Ciofi will be leaving later this year after several months of handover to his successor Samuel Berger, who worked at a biodynamic estate in the Languedoc. For the 2016 vintage Bruno is heading to the Loire to be with his girlfriend, Virginie Joly – he won’t be working at her family’s Coulée de Serrant estate, but will be joining Marc Angeli as partner in La Ferme de la Sansonnière in Anjou.

Tasting line-up for Paviors' Jura wine dinner ©Paviors

Tasting line-up for Paviors’ Jura wine dinner © Paviors

I conducted a Jura tasting and dinner for the Pavior’s wine circle in London recently, which was a huge success with a maximum capacity group of 40 present to learn about the region, many for the first time. At the dinner I was able to wear my new award with pride – a medallion showing that I have become an ‘Ambassadeur des Vins Jaune’, only the second foreigner to be so awarded. The ceremony took place at a dinner before the Percée du Vin Jaune festival in February. For anyone who is a member of the prestigious new wine club in London, 67 Pall Mall, I shall be hosting a tastingAmbassadeur des Vins Jaune - Wink Lorch dinner there on 5th May… oh, and I may wear my medallion – after all there should be at least two Vins Jaunes and I did have to promise, ‘through my words, writings and deeds to be a worthy
ambassador of Vins Jaunes’.

The annual Jura wine trade tasting that usually takes place in May has this year been pushed back to early November, when an event will take place together with the Comté cheese promotional organisation. Details will be announced soon.

Stephane Tissot Ten BellsUS events and tastings
The annual Jura wine producers US road show takes place next week. Yet again I was not invited to accompany them to present the seminars, to the disappointment of many vignerons, but it is out of their hands apparently – the tastings are organised by a Canadian PR company, who like to employ one of their own, who has visited the Jura once, I believe… The dates/locations are Monday 18th April in San Francisco, Tuesday 19th in Los Angeles (a first – and note that I have a new book stockists in the city – Lou Wine Shop) and on Thursday 21st in New York. There will be an excellent turnout of 20 producers, some there for the first time. Look out for tiny organic producer Domaine Wicky (represented by the delightful Christelle Wicky), also a chance to meet one of the new management of Domaine Grand, Nathalie, wife of  Emmanuel Grand, and the up-and-coming André-Jean Morin of Domaine de la Touraize. To attend email Emilie Athot-Robitaille.

Some of the established estates with importers will be hosting separate tastings. One fine-looking example is at The Ten Bells in Downtown New York on Wednesday 20th April with Stéphane Tissot.

Arbois restaurant changes
As already announced, Maison Jeunet has re-opened after the departure of Jean-Paul Jeunet, with chef Steven Naessens in charge – he has taken over the hotel-restaurant with his wife, and they have taken on Stéphane Planche as wine buying director. Meanwhile, Thierry Moyne has also hung up his chef’s apron and sold La Balance to his ‘second’, Maxime Montibert, who before joining Thierry had worked at Jean-Paul Jeunet.

Wine glasses Aux Docks, JuraMeantime, in the centre of the little town, after a superb restoration of one of the old buildings on the square, a new restaurant has opened – Brasserie Aux Docks. It is a brasserie in the sense that they also have a bar and serve both breakfast and platters of meat, cheese or oysters (in season) out of lunchtime-hours, however for lunch and dinner the style is more bistrot, with a choice of four or five dishes for each course. On my two visits I’ve found the cooking to be excellent and the décor is refreshing. I need to express an interest. I have created their Jura wine list for what they call the ‘grande carte’ – there is a smaller wine list for those in a hurry, which I’ve not been entirely responsible for. The main wine list includes around 100 Jura wines from 40 producers including some real gems –  you can scroll down the list of wines on their website. The selection reflects my book, including both organic and non-organic producers, however there is even a short selection of natural wines, and I persuaded some vignerons to release a few bottles from the great 2005 vintage – if you are visiting Arbois, tell the staff you know me!

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