Posts Tagged With: Domaine de la Tournelle

Sorting the lady’s Trousseau

The grape name Trousseau usually brings a smile to the face of older people who actually remember the meaning of a lady’s trousseau – a ‘bottom drawer’ or ‘hope chest’ – now disappearing from common use in English. The red grape Trousseau found in Jura may have derived its name from the old French word troussé or trussed, meaning tied up like a chicken, which relates to the shape of the bunch, but as usual these meanings are lost in history.

Trousseau grapes

Old vine Trousseau à la Dame

Trousseau is one of the three main permitted red grapes in the Jura, and although increasing slowly, there are only about 150 hectares planted or less than 8% of the total Jura vineyard. The largest plantings are in the north of the region in the Arbois appellation, especially around Montigny-les-Arsures, though certain vineyard areas in the southern Côtes du Jura have been identified as suitable for plantings too. According to local geologist Michel Campy, Trousseau is a sensitive variety, needing good exposure and preferring clay-gravel soils with fragments of limestone and silica.

The new Wine Grapes book confirms Trousseau comes originally from the Jura region and has a biological parent-child relationship with the white Savagnin variety. It is the same as the Bastardo grape of Portugal (and also grown to a lesser extent in Spain) but no-one knows how it arrived in Iberia – there are over 1,200ha grown in Portugal.

Arbois Les Corvées vineyardTrousseau, the harvest
During a sunny afternoon spent  harvesting in the south-facing vineyard of Les Corvées above Arbois with Pascal Clairet of Domaine de la Tournelle, I learned that Trousseau à la Dame (lady’s Trousseau?) refers to an old selection of particularly loose bunches of Trousseau. We were picking earlier than Pascal might have liked as after the difficult 2012 summer weather, quantity was down (Trousseau is prone to coulure or bad flower set), and he wanted to save what he could before the onset of yet another bout of rain.

Actually, the bunches were in excellent condition and Pascal confirmed a potential of about 12% alcohol, though later this was to be tested by his wife Evelyne who was back at the vinification cellar in the village of St-Cyr-Montmalin a few kilometres way. The pickers brought the grapes down the steep vineyard slope, whose clay soils had already dried out from the previous day’s rain. They dragged the rectangular tubs on convenient metal contraptions and then the tubs were tipped onto a large square tray for manual de-stemming.

Manual de-stemming

Manual de-stemming the Trousseau ©Brett Jones

Also providing a final sorting opportunity, rejecting any rotten berries or leaves inadvertently picked, this wooden manual de-stemming tray was surprisingly efficient. The tray has regular holes drilled in it and sits on top of a large plastic tub that can take 300-400kg of grapes. Standing up on the tractor trailer, I was taught to rub my hands over the bunches, keeping them curved so as not to crush the grapes. It’s a much gentler process than the mechanical de-stemmers that producers have used for several decades, preserving the integrity of the grape. The glistening berries fall into the tub and the stems can be thrown overboard. The result is a tub full of berries that look almost like olives.

Trousseau grape berries

The berries after de-stemming; an occasional Chardonnay vine is mixed up in the vineyard, hence the white berries

Trousseau, the wine
The big tubs of Trousseau grapes were taken back to the winery and bucket by bucket thrown into the top of a fibre-glass tank. There are few fancy machines at Domaine de la Tournelle – my overriding impression was of an immaculately clean winery. It always takes a lot of water to make good wine, and most especially for anyone who – as this winery – uses minimal or no chemical intervention. No SO2 is used here whenever possible and only natural yeasts. The Trousseau will have a few light punch downs (usually with feet!) and then regular pumpovers before being pressed.

Pascal Clairet of Domaine de la Tournelle

Pascal Clairet ©Brett Jones

In looking forward to tasting Trousseau Les Corvées 2012, I have recently drunk the 2010 vintage, slightly cloudy, full of pure juicy red-black fruit with a light structure. I don’t think it’s for long ageing, but may well be proved wrong as so often with Jura reds.

Other good producers of Arbois Trousseau include Stéphane Tissot (Domaine A & M Tissot), Jacques Puffeney, Daniel Dugois (who has several cuvées including one specifically from Trousseau à la Dame, named Damelière), Fréderic Lornet (with the cuvée Trousseau Les Dames that I had previously thought to be a vineyard location), Michel Gahier and Lucien Aviet (Caveau de Bacchus). In Côtes du Jura, Domaine Ganevat, Benoit Badoz and Domaine Pignier can be recommended.

California Postscript
There is one other wine in the world that I know of labelled Trousseau and made in a Jura style and that is Arnot-Roberts Trousseau from California. Arnot-Roberts is a small winery based in Healdsburg, Sonoma County that buys in grapes and has a passion for French-style, restrained wines. They purchase their Trousseau grapes from a grower in Lake County who planted it as Bastardo for a port blend. I tried both 2010 and 2011 back in February this year (both not yet bottled) and was impressed by the delicacy, rusticity and overall Jura-style, despite the extra fruit intensity derived from California sunshine. It’s worth noting that Trousseau Gris is a colour variant that is not grown as far as I know in the Jura, but exists in California, sometimes called ‘Gray Riesling’.

The following video was shot by Cathy Ho, and shows Pierre Overnoy demonstrating and explaining (in French) the manual de-stemming method I tried to describe above, but with the Poulsard/Ploussard variety grown in Pupillin a few kilometres away.

Categories: Jura wine education | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jura wines resemble their owners

The recent wine fairs in London along with the Jura organic tasting that I hosted for bloggers, gave a chance to taste Jura wines out of context, always a different experience to tasting in the region. Wines from Jura already show so many facets in terms of the many wine styles made, and increasingly I find that, even more than in other regions, the wines reflect their makers, somewhat like dogs resembling their owners.

Wines from six producers were available to taste in London recently over the three fairs, RAW (The  Artisan Wine Fair), the Real Wine Fair and the professionals-only London International Wine Fair (LIWF).  At my Jura tasting evening I shared three or four wines from each of the five producers showing at the RAW and Real fairs, with three of the producers present and was able to taste further wines on their stands at the fairs.

Maison du Vigneron – Playing a vital role
At LIWF I tasted four wines from estates owned in Jura by Grand Chais de France, one of the biggest wine companies in France, and indeed in the Jura. As Henri Maire’s influence in the region wanes, the role of this producer is important, especially for those growers who are not part of a cooperative and need to sell their grapes (some of these use part of their crop to make their own wines, others none). La Maison du Vigneron (Grands Chais’ Jura business) produces a large amount of very decent Crémant du Jura under various labels (including Marcel Cabelier, and Pierre Michel in the UK), and they are the biggest exporter of the region. For their Crémants most grapes are purchased, but the company also owns several estates, and may well invest in others in future.

Vin JauneThe two established estates are Domaine de Quillot and Domaine de Savagny. From the latter I tasted a Chardonnay, a Poulsard and a Vin de Paille, all AOC Côtes du Jura. They were well balanced wines, long and typical for the southern part of the Jura region, very sound, like a familiar labrador. The standout wine was the sublime Château-Chalon 2002 (a vintage I love for Vins Jaunes) from a family estate that Maison du Vigneron purchased quite recently, Domaine Durand Perron. I have yet to find out what plans they have for this estate, but having visited the vineyards a few years ago with the owner, I would say potential is very high.

Jura in the Raw and The Real Deal
I hope that the five organic Jura producers at RAW and REAL felt their time in London was well spent, as it was great to see them here. On the page where I described the London organic Jura wine evening (which will stay on this site) I have profiled each one briefly, and here are some thoughts about their wines, as they tasted in London this month.

Bruno Ciofi at RAW ©Wink Lorch

The most traditional of the five was Domaine de la Pinte, and at the tasting its two oxidative wines, the Cuvée Automne (a Savagnin/Chardonnay blend) and the Arbois Vin Jaune 2004 reflected its substantial plantings of Savagnin and good cellar conditions for maturing these wines. But, I sense general manager Bruno Ciofi is champing at the bit (do dogs do that?), and I think this estate will progress and innovate in the future. Their wines were, I heard, much appreciated at the recent trade tastings in Chicago and Canada.

#JuraWineUK

Jean-Etienne Pignier with Fabio and Wink at Adiva ©Brett Jones

Jean-Etienne Pignier was let off the leash for his trip to London and it was fun to meet a member of this conservative family, away from home, so full of energy, bounce and optimism! Stars in our tasting were the Crémant and a gorgeous Vin de Paille (always one of my favourites of this style), but also I know many who went to RAW mentioned the GPS, a no-sulphur-added vineyard blend of Chardonnay (which in Jura used to be called Gamay Blanc), Poulsard and Savagnin. Domaine Pignier has begun to seek out more markets, and I will be excited to see this estate find a UK importer, having recently begun exporting to the USA.

Domaine de l'Octavin

Alice Bouvot at REAL ©Brett Jones

Charles Dagand and Alice Bouvot are, relatively speaking, the puppies of the group and their somewhat cloudy Domaine de l’Octavin wines appealed to the new generation of natural wine lovers in London. Of the wines at our tasting, the Savagnin 2011 had a grape juice purity and lightness about it that many enjoyed, more suitable perhaps for a picnic à deux in a long grassy meadow than with Turkish/Lebanese food in a dark, dusky restaurant. Their Pet’Nat frothy sparkling, named The Péteux which they had on show at RAW is on sale at the little, trendy wine shop and Jura champion 259 Hackney Road.

Bornard of Jura

Philippe Bornard with friend at REAL ©Arnold Waldstein

Up to now, the wines of Philippe Bornard have been somewhat of an enigma to me, but the distinctive fox labels seem to have travelled well to London, and Philippe (the terrier of the group?) had a winning smile on his face at RAW as well he might. The three wines at our tasting, a Poulsard, Chardonnay and Savagnin all with no added sulphur at bottling, showed depth and style on the night, as did tastes from the leftover bottles on several subsequent nights. Perhaps the terrier has made me a convert to his terroir wines.

Evelyne of Tournelle

Evelyne Clairet at REAL ©Arnold Waldstein

Finally, some sophistication in the form of the beautifully groomed Evelyne Clairet, who came to the early part of our tasting and engaged several people in conversation with her usual good grace and elegance. The Domaine de la Tournelle wines, from Evelyne and her husband Pascal, shone brightly for me at the tasting, with the irresistibly drinkable l’Uva Arbosiana Ploussard easing the stresses of the organisation of the evening, and then the lemony and mineral Savagnin being thoroughly enjoyed by several of us later with the meal. Chardonnay Les Corvées reflects its owner in its sophisticated if earthy character.

Several who attended the organic evening at the BYO Adiva Restaurant plan to post their thoughts. I shall add links here as and when they do.

 

Categories: Events and Tastings, Producers | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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