Jura Wine book excerpts

Jeunet Retires: Arbois Gastronomic Traditions Live On

Once it was certain that his Arbois restaurant had retained its two Michelin stars, held for 20 years, Jean-Paul Jeunet confirmed his retirement. He has formally handed over the business to his second-in-command Steven Naessens, who has worked with him for eight years.

According to local reports, the Hotel Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet will be re-named Maison Jeunet. Jean-Paul Jeunet, 61, plans to travel the world, but in order to ensure continuity, he will initially continue to work with Steven Naessens, who he regards as his ‘spiritual son’.

The restaurant is about to re-open after the winter break and there are some changes forecast including a rumoured return of sommelier Stéphane Planche to look after the wine list… expect even more natural wines.

This is just one of several changes happening in the Arbois restaurant scene. Among them, it is thought that La Balance, another excellent restaurant, will change hands this year and the new Brasserie Aux Docks is starting to make waves.

Like his father André before him, Jean-Paul Jeunet could not have been a better ambassador to the Jura wine region, which is why I chose to include the pair in second chapter of the history section of my Jura Wine book, named “The People Who Made a Difference”.

Jean-Paul Jeunet and Wink Lorch

With Jean-Paul Jeunet after an excellent dinner. ©Brett Jones

This chapter gave me perhaps the most pleasure to research and write. Interviewing Jean-Paul Jeunet over coffee and delicious pastries was truly fascinating. I have also had the pleasure of eating at the restaurant several times, always enjoying inventive cuisine, attentive service and, of course, fine Jura wines.

You can read more about the Jeunets including about Jean-Paul Jeunet’s wine philosophy in the following book excerpt.

The Jeunets – chefs

André Jeunet: 1924–2001 and Jean-Paul Jeunet: b. 1954

Imagine the scenario. You are a young and ambitious French chef with your own restaurant, already boasting a Michelin star, building yourself a fine reputation. Having twice failed to win the top chefs’ competition, you decide instead to enter the top sommeliers’ competition in the country. You’re a chef and you win . . . This is what happened in 1966 to André Jeunet, father of Jean-Paul Jeunet (at the time of writing the only two-star Michelin chef in the Jura and Franche-Comté).

In a familiar story for most French-born chefs, André Jeunet, who came from Arbois, was inspired by his mother, who taught him about the flavours of local food and drink. Like most Jura country folk, they had some vines, made wine and used the travelling still to make home-grown fruit spirits and liqueurs – and all turned up in the cooking pot. After catering studies and work in restaurants and teaching, André married Raymonde Bonjour, the daughter of a hotelier in Port Lesnay (once the Hotel Bonjour, today the delightful Hotel d’Edgar). In 1951 the couple took on the task of renovating the Hotel de Paris in Arbois, then on the main road between Paris and Geneva, with the aim of turning it into a busy Routier restaurant.

At that time Arbois already had two Michelin-rated restaurants (La Balance and the Hôtel des Messageries) and the story goes that the local Michelin inspector, who had heard about the Hotel de Paris, encouraged them to take down their Routier sign so that they could be eligible for a star the next year. Losing the Routier customers was a risk, but they took it and won a star in 1959.

In the meantime André Jeunet supplemented his income by teaching at the girls’ catering college in nearby Poligny. Along with cookery courses he included wine-tasting courses, and would take the young ladies off to visit vineyards around the country. He was hooked on wine and learning fast. After losing France’s top chef’s competition in 1962 and 1964 to no less than the great chefs Paul Bocuse and Jean Troisgros, he gave up, but then tried for the Meilleur Sommelier de France instead. He won the award in 1966 and with that in hand he was able to indulge his passion as well as pay particular attention to the wines of his own region. It is said that whenever he travelled out of the region to another restaurant, he always took a clavelin of Vin Jaune with him to help it become known among his colleagues.

This era coincided exactly with the time that a few small vignerons in the Jura were turning away from polyculture to set up wine estates, inspired partly by the fact that Henri Maire was succeeding in making Jura wines known around the world. According to Jean-Paul, his father André had respect for Henri Maire, whose estate wines in particular were very good at the time, but he wanted to help and encourage these younger vignerons. He would taste wines with Jacques Puffeney, Lucien Aviet (Caveau Bacchus) or Roger Lornet (father of Frédéric) and suggest ways that they could make their wines better, and of course he sold their wines in his restaurant.

This being the era of fast improvements in cellar technologies, André encouraged the vignerons to be cautious with these new technologies, to value their land and to remain artisanal. He was an admirer of the philosophy of the Beaujolais wine merchant and natural wine advocate Jules Chauvet, who was a great influence on Pierre Overnoy.

Nadine and Jean-Paul Jeunet © Hotel Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet

Nadine and Jean-Paul Jeunet © Hotel Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet

Jean-Paul Jeunet spent a lot of time as a child with his grandmother – his parents being busy establishing their hotel and restaurant – and credits her with being as big an influence on his understanding of flavours as she had been for his father. He followed his father into the business after studying in Nice and worked in the kitchens of several grand restaurants. When his father became unwell in 1986, Jean-Paul and his wife Nadine took over the business. He had previously tried to work in the kitchen beside his father, but there was friction. When Jean-Paul received his second Michelin star in 1996, he finally believed he had done something good for himself, and eventually changed the name from Hotel de Paris to Hotel Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet.

Naturally his father had taught him about the local wines, but Jean-Paul credits Stéphane Planche, who worked as the restaurant’s head sommelier from 1998 to 2009, with helping him create a strategy for the restaurant’s wine purchases and stocks, so that between 25% and 35% of all purchases are put aside to age. Stéphane says that the restaurant was already really driven by its excellent wine selection before his arrival, and both André (with whom he was able to spend time) and Jean-Paul taught him much about the Jura and its vignerons. Stéphane and Jean-Paul share an appreciation of wines that are simple and represent the land and their vignerons; they remain good friends and Jean-Paul helped Stéphane set up his Arbois wine shop and bar, Les Jardins de St-Vincent.

Jean-Paul believes that Jura wines have made great progress in the past 20 years or so, and he is a supporter of vignerons working with organic and biodynamic methods in particular. He believes in minimal intervention and seems to love the new fruity styles of reds that give pleasure without tannin and encourage one to drink a second glass. However, he fears that the real extremists may lose the Jura some clientele, and doesn’t enjoy some of the really ‘crazy’ wines. Restraint in purchases should be assured by the sommelier since 2010, Alain Guillou, who was awarded Sommelier of the Year by the publisher Gault et Millau in 2013. Currently their list has 640 wines, including over 350 from the Jura.

On matching Jura wines with food, Jean-Paul starts with the comment that God must have been from the Jura to create such a divine marriage as Comté cheese with Vin Jaune. He also believes that the matches of basic local products like Morteau sausage with Poulsard or pike with Savagnin are essential, but he goes further: ‘Give me a wine and I will give you a dish to match,’ he says, and rates lobster with Savagnin a splendid marriage, though he refuses to be drawn into discussions about whether to choose ouillé or an oxidative version, believing each wine should be treated on its own merits without going too far into how it was made. For Jean-Paul the terroir (in which he includes the grape varieties) counts for 51% of the character of a wine, and the know-how and work of the vigneron for 49%. What’s more, if you do not understand the fundamentals of that terroir, you can’t begin to make a good wine, he claims.

Jean-Paul Jeunet Arbois

The entrance to the Arbois hotel restaurant, opposite the town hall ©Wikimedia

Today the restaurant’s cuisine is influenced by the greenness of the Jura and its soil, using many root vegetables – simple wines of the earth go well with these dishes, Jean-Paul says. According to Jean-Paul, both he and his father transmitted into their cuisine their own history and traditions, and these match the originality and history of the grape varieties and terroirs of Jura wines. Both men of strong personality, Jean-Paul believes that their individual and highly flavoured cuisine can bring out the best in Jura wines because their flavours are so powerful.

Jean-Paul Jeunet is regularly seen at wine events, and sometimes agrees to be one of the chefs for grand PR occasions as well as contributing recipes to the CIVJ’s publications. He continues to be a great supporter of local vignerons, both established and new, and to be excited by their wines. Very approachable, he puts a smile on younger growers’ faces when he – always in conjunction with his sommelier – agrees to list one of their wines, often discovered by himself at a tasting.

Jean-Paul Jeunet and his team outside the restaurant watching the procession of the Biou. ©Brett Jones

Jean-Paul Jeunet and his team outside the restaurant watching the symbolic Biou procession. ©Brett Jones

The Jeunet dynasty has been important for Jura wines, providing a focal point for lovers of gastronomy. And for those who have loved the wines from a distance and visit Arbois for the first time, the Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet has become a place of pilgrimage. Fortunately the prices, relative to its status, have been held in check both for the food and the wines, as befits this region.

The above was an excerpt from Wink Lorch’s award-winning Jura Wine Book, available in print from Wine Travel Media and available as an eBook on iBooks and on Kindle.

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

Domaine Buronfosse

Over in Auckland where I’m based at present, there are very few Jura wines available, in fact there are very few French wines from the smaller appellations. It is not surprising really with such a tiny population and such an important wine production in its own country. It’s worth remembering that only ten years ago, there were hardly any Jura wines to be found anywhere outside the Franche-Comté region. Even Paris had little choice.

However, Auckland has one specialist French importer and retailer, Maison Vauron, who does wave the flag for the Jura, having imported a few wines from Stéphane Tissot for several years. I went to see them recently and they told me that they were thinking about adding one more Jura producer to their range and asked me what I thought about Domaine Buronfosse, as one of the partners had been particularly impressed with a Savagnin Ouillé from them.

Based in the far south of the region, in the Sud Revermont – an area best known for its white wines – located in the same hamlet as Domaine Ganevat, Peggy Buronfosse has been quietly building up her wine estate and now her husband Jean-Pascal has joined her. Their reputation for white wines has grown considerably and I find it really exciting that some of their wines will arrive in New Zealand soon.

So, here is the next producer profile excerpt from the book – you have bought the book, haven’t you?? You won’t find the book on Amazon.com (only on Amazon.co.uk) because I couldn’t stand giving them the huge commission they require. But in case you need it you will find the Jura Wine book stockists on this page, along with a few reviews.

Jura Domaine Buronfosse

Jean-Pascal and Peggy Buronfosse outside their home ©Mick Rock/Cephas

Peggy Buronfosse cannot quite get over the fact that her wines are available in trendy New York wine shops and restaurants. She embraces it, but is humble at the same time. Neither she nor her husband Jean-Pascal set out to be vignerons, but they did fervently wish to put down roots and farm somewhere. They landed in the sleepy hamlet of La Combe below Rotalier. Originally from the cities of Lyon and St-Etienne, today whatever this couple do, together with their children, is a lifestyle choice, and however hard the work is they seem to love the various aspects of producing wine.

Entredeux Savagnin Ouillé Buronfosse ©Mick Rock

Domaine Buronfosse Côtes du Jura Entre-Deux is a Savagnin Ouillé, but not stated on the label ©Mick Rock/Cephas

Both Peggy and Jean-Pascal trained in agriculture and their plan was simply to find jobs, keep some animals, have a vegetable garden and source as much of their own food as possible while bringing up their family. Jean-Pascal worked as a teacher in the Lons agricultural college, and vivacious Peggy (or ‘La Peggy’ as she’s known locally) worked in the vineyards for Domaine Joly and got to know her neighbour Jean-François Ganevat. The vine bug hit her and in 2000 Raymond Pageault, an 80-year-old local vigneron who had heard about her, decided that ‘La Peggy’ was the one to take over his steep vineyards. He persuaded the couple to rent his parcels of old vines and their challenge started. Although originally Peggy had to use herbicide, that soon changed and she started, with Jean-Pascal’s help, hoeing the vineyards by hand with the aim of being completely organic. Official conversion started in 2007. Now, having taken on a few more vineyards, they have plots predominating in marl, limestone and schist, mainly in Rotalier and St-Laurent de Grandvaux. To fulfil a long-held wish, they are making plans to get a horse for the family and hope to train it to work in the vineyards.

After a struggle at the start, by the 2004 vintage they were beginning to find private clients through wine shows and wine clubs, and the media began to notice as well. Typically for the Sud Revermont, the emphasis is on whites, but inspired more by Ganevat and Labet than by Joly – the modern Rotalier–Burgundian style. They have several stylish ouillé Chardonnay cuvées, all distinctly different according to their terroir, plus a blend, Belemnites, and a tangy Savagnin ouillé called Entre-Deux; all spend around 18 months in barrel. A first Jaune was released in 2005, there is a tiny amount of red and an exquisite non-approved Vin de Paille named Epicure. Latterly a beautifully pure Chardonnay Crémant has been added to the range.

Buronfosse sign ©Mick RockThis is a venture that remains small and will continue to be so. Although Jean-Pascal gave up his teaching job in 2013 and joined Peggy to work on the domaine, they have no wish to expand the vineyards beyond around 4ha. Their beautiful labels are from paintings by Jean-Pascal’s brother-in-law and reflect the wines and the terroir. These are smiling, thinking people and it shines through in their wines.

Domaine Buronfosse, 2 La Serpentine, La Combe, 39190 Rotalier
Tel: 03 84 25 05 09
Email: buronfossepjp@orange.fr
Contacts: Peggy and Jean-Pascal Buronfosse
Established: 2000
Vineyards: 4ha (Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, Pinot Noir, Trousseau, mainly white)
Certification: Ecocert
Visits: Tasting room, visits welcomed by appointment

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

Domaine de la Cybelline (Benoît Royer)

Even though very recent, in some ways the intensive year of research visits and writing that I undertook to prepare the Jura Wine book seem long ago and the region far away as I write from Auckland where I’m based for a few months.

However, there are several distinct highlights that don’t leave me – watching vigneron Benoît Royer and his beautiful mare Kigali working hard ploughing his old Poulsard vineyard in Mesnay is one of them. Benoît’s kindness in allowing us to come along and photograph the two of them at very short notice during our photo shoot for the book was typical of the man.

This latest extract from the book features Benoît’s Domaine de la Cybelline, a tiny organic estate whose wines seem to crop up in the most unexpected places, including on the spectacular wine list of one of the world’s most famous restaurants, Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. Producers like Benoît are part of what makes the Jura a big deal as I explained in a recent piece for the on-line magazine Wine Searcher, for whom I am temporarily working as Acting Editor.

Horse plowing Jura vineyard

Kigali with her owner Benoît Royer in his steep, old Poulsard vineyard in Mesnay   © Mick Rock/Cephas

‘Allez ma belle, marche, marche . . .’ (‘Come on, walk on, my lovely . . .’). The words that Benoît Royer says to encourage his Comtois mare Kigali while ploughing the vineyards seem to echo from another age, when horses were routinely used to work the vineyards. Today Benoît and Kigali work his tiny, steep, densely planted old Poulsard vineyard in Mesnay as well as a couple of other vineyards, usually close-planted, including Claude Buchot’s in Maynal. This is just one of several jobs that Benoît does, along with teaching biology and viticulture on the organic wine production course at the Lons college and running his very small wine estate.

Benoît originally wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, but ended up studying oenology at Dijon. From Arbois, his parents were not involved in wine, although his uncles had vineyards. After work experience in Burgundy Benoît worked for five years at Domaine de la Pinte before setting up on his own. He took on old vineyards in Mesnay and Molamboz in AOC Arbois and a younger one in Buvilly, classified AOC Côtes du Jura, starting conversion to organics right away, and later took on a parcel in Poligny to plant.

Cibellyne Jura vigneron

Domaine de la Cibellyne in Mesnay © Brett Jones

Over the few years he has made wine in the small cellar under his house yields have fluctuated wildly, often being too low to be economic, partly because some vineyards, mostly those with younger vines, previously chemically managed, did not convert easily to organics. Benoît has now relinquished the Buvilly vineyards so that he can manage the estate better on his own.

Most of his wines are blends and in recent years there have been various cuvées from different blends and plots. He is a skilful and thoughtful winemaker and results are deliciously simple and elegant in style. Reds are usually made using punch-downs in stainless steel, some small oak ageing, and judicious amounts of SO2.

The whites start off in tank and then move into oak, mostly topped up, though he has dabbled with sous voile when he has enough volume and in 2005 he made a Vin Jaune. He makes both white Macvin and red Macvin (the latter not every year) and stresses the importance of ageing longer than the minimum time in oak as well as using juice from good ripe fruit.

With his wines on some of the best restaurant wine lists in Scandinavia, Benoît’s estate epitomizes the ‘small is beautiful’ approach, and now, with an even smaller domaine, life should get easier for him.

Domaine de la Cibellyne
1 Rue Bernarde, 39600 Mesnay
Tel: 03 84 66 29 71
Email: ben.royer@wanadoo.fr
Contact: Benoît Royer
Established: 2004
Vineyards: 2ha (1.2ha white, 0.8ha red)
Certification: Ecocert
Visits: No tasting room, but visits welcomed by appointment

I shall be visiting the Jura again in early September, leading a trip for generous Kickstarter supporters, so will try to report from there on harvest prospects. Immediately after I will be attending the Louis Roederer Wine Writing Awards award ceremony in London before returning to Auckland for a further six months.

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

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

 

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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: