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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Tom Lewis, the Cambridge Wine Blogger firstly about the evening and secondly the wines.
- Heather Dougherty wrote on her personal blog “The Jura: It’s France, Jim but not as we know it”
- Ward de Muynck produced a short video of the evening.