Posts Tagged With: Jancis Robinson

Savagnin confirmed as a founder grape variety

With the launch of the Wine Grapes book, Jancis Robinson MW has dubbed Jura’s famous white grape Savagnin a ‘founder grape variety’. It has been known for a long time that Savagnin was part of the Traminer family, but the book will reveal much more including not only an array of synonyms for Savagnin, but also that it is the parent of such diverse and much more fashionable grape varieties as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner.

Jura Savagnin grapes

Savagnin Vert and Jaune, harvested October 6th and destined for Domaine Pignier Vin Jaune ©Wink Lorch

Savagnin’s written history in the Jura goes back to at least the 14th century, and it is also called Naturé especially in 18th century texts. Savagnin exists in various colour mutations, the most common of which today are Savagnin Vert and Savagnin Jaune. At harvest with Domaine Pignier earlier this month, Jean-Etienne Pignier explained to me that he likes to grow both Vert (green) and Jaune (yellow) in the vineyards, as the mix adds complexity to the blend, even for Vin Jaune.

In the Jura, Savagnin tends to be planted on the best grey or blue marl soils, often in steep south-facing expositions. It resists disease reasonably well, though as a late ripener may be prone to grey rot, as well as to the more desirable ‘noble’ rot. Some producers, Pignier included, like to have a level of nobly-rotted berries included in harvest, also adding to the complexity of their Vin Jaune. Yields of Savagnin are relatively low and it gives good sugar levels with high balancing acid levels.

Savagnin grapes

With a leaf for identifcation, Savagnin, ready for the press ©Wink Lorch

There are 300-400 hectares of Savagnin grown in the Jura, and it is the only variety allowed for Vin Jaune (including of course, Château-Chalon), so traditionally all Savagnin would start off in the winery being a potential Vin Jaune, with less successful barrels being drawn off during the six years of ageing for making a traditional Savagnin white or to blend with Chardonnay (often labelled Tradition). Because of starting life as a potential Vin Jaune all these wines would be oxidative, giving rise to the common, and arguably erroneous, descriptor for Savagnin as ‘nutty’ in flavour, a flavour that actually has more to do with the oxidative ageing process in unfilled barrels under a veil of yeast than to the grape itself.

Since the 1990s increasing numbers of Jura growers have been making small quantities of so-called Savagnin Ouillé. The French word ‘ouillé’ means ‘topped-up’ and refers to the making of Savagnin wines in what to most regions would be a ‘normal’ white wine making method. Whether aged in tank or barrel, the white wine is protected from oxygen during the ageing process. I have loved many producers’ Savagnin Ouillé wines since I first tasted them around 10 years ago as they show the true flavours of this fascinating grape – in particular a vivid lemon character, but also floral, and often the mineral character that is so typical of Jura, I find can be really harnessed in Savagnin Ouillé.

Some of the good producers making Savagnin Ouillé are in AOC Arbois: Fréderic Lornet (Naturé), Tournelle, Stéphane Tissot (Traminer), Philippe Bornard, Overnoy/Houillon, Renardière, Jacques Tisot (Naturé), Octavin and Ligier; and in AOC Côtes du Jura: Ganevat, Labet, Rijckaert, Badoz, Pignier and Buronfosse.

Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz is available to buy with a limited special offer on Jancis’ site or for a similar price you can purchase via my Amazon UK or Amazon US stores (when I will eventually receive a few pennies). I have just received my own weighty copy , in which I expect to find all sorts of fascinating information on all the Jura grape varieties.

Categories: Jura wine education, News | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Jura Wine News for Summer 2012

Having been a little silent recently, I’m finding it hard to believe how much noise has been generated about Jura wines in the English-speaking press in the past couple of months. Twitter is all abuzz about Jura wines in several languages, including English, and I see increasing blog posts mentioning a Jura wine or two. So, here is my news round-up of what’s happening, with an international slant.

Dole is located an easy distance to the north of the wine region ©Wine Travel Guides

Cambridge – Dole Air link
A small airline named Danube Wings has launched various services to the Jura airport of Dole, just north of Arbois and the wine area. Most notably, from this Friday 27 July until 24 August, Danube Wings will operate a flight from Cambridge airport (recently re-opened for international passenger traffic and reached by train from London in an hour) on Fridays and Mondays to and from Dole. What is particularly interesting is that the checked baggage allowance includes 15kg PLUS four bottles of wine. I asked the PR how this worked, and apparently as long as the bottles are packed in a normal wine box from the shop or winery you buy it from, they will be handled carefully at each end.

I wonder if this wine baggage allowance is a first anywhere in the world, and I also wonder whether the system really will work without breakages. Good news for all, if so. The flight timings are ideal either for a long weekend break, or even a long week break instead, when more wineries will be open to welcome you. I just hope it’s successful enough for them to consider running the flights for a longer period during the year. My travel guides give details of other ways to reach the Jura wine region.

Jacques Puffeney, who celebrates his 50th vintage in 2012, one of the very best Jura vignerons ©Wink Lorch

Tasting reports from Schildknecht and Robinson
Writer David Schildknecht, one of Robert Parker’s team of contributors to The Wine Advocate and eRobertParker has written his first extensive report on the wines of the Jura, following visits to 17 estates last November. His report, available only to magazine or website subscribers, is very comprehensive indeed and, unsurprisingly, enthusiastic too, with very positive comments about the future for this region. He rated 244 wines on the usual 100-point scale, with wines rated ‘outstanding’ – above 90 points – reached by one or more wines from almost all the producers visited, including most of the names sold in the USA. The highest marks were mostly awarded to Vins Jaunes and Vins de Pailles, but Jean-François Ganevat scored very highly with his Chardonnays, although tasted pre-bottling. The highest scoring Ganevat wine was his Chardonnay Cuvée Les Grandes Teppes Vieilles Vignes, which is from vines planted in 1919 – it is a cuvée that I’ve tasted over the years, and I’m very glad that Schildknecht found it as gorgeous as I know it to be. Stéphane Tissot’s Clos du Curon Chardonnay also received 94 points.

Jancis Robinson admitted to me that she had last been to the Jura right at the start of her career, a few decades ago, and that was only to visit Henri Maire. So, I was pleased that she planned a return en route to Alsace back in June. Spending only 24 hours there, on my advice she visited Stéphane Tissot and Jacques Puffeney, and you will see the report in her article in the FT and on her site. She wrote extensive tasting notes too, but these are only available to access by Purple Pages members – on these she detailed a full range of wines from Tissot, Puffeney, and Les Chais du Vieux Bourg (at whose Les Jardins sur Glantine B&B in Poligny she stayed), as well as a few wines tasted at the RAW Fair from Domaine Pignier and Domaine La Pinte.

Jura at the Olympics!
The selection of wines for the London Olympics includes a Côtes du Jura Savagnin Les Sarres 2007 from the excellent producer Jean Rijckaert, based in Burgundy but owning vines in Jura. Although I haven’t tasted this vintage, I have tasted previous Savagnins from Rijckaert and it’s important to note that it is a Savagnin ouillé – meaning topped-up non-oxidative Savagnin. It is likely to taste dry, full, with lovely lemony and mineral freshness to balance. How lucky are the corporate visitors who manage to drink this whilst watching a great sporting event.

Fizz and Chips?
And last but not least, the Pierre Michel Crémant du Jura, made by Maison du Vigneron, part of the Grand Chais de France group and the largest producer of Crémant in the Jura, has won – wait for it – The What Food, What Wine Fish and Chips Fizz and Chips trophy …. A Chardonnay sparkling wine made – as all Crémants – in the Traditional method, it is available in the UK at ALDI for just £6.99. Fizzing value, it has to be said.

Categories: News, Producers, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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