Posts Tagged With: Jean-Paul Jeunet

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!

Categories: Events and Tastings, News | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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.

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Celebrations, commiserations and rumours before harvest

On the first Sunday of September for as long as anyone in Arbois can remember, the local vignerons put on their Sunday best, and the whole town comes out to witness a glorious procession and church service honouring the harvest to come. The festival, named La Fête du Biou, is the focus for a weekend of events in the town.

Arbois vignerons create the Biou ©Brett Jones

There is something deeply moving and beautiful about the Biou festival, and this year, we were able to witness the biou itself being prepared on the Saturday afternoon. The biou is a gigantic ‘bunch’ of grapes, harking back to the biblical Eshcol carried by the Israelites returning from Canaan, ‘the Promised Land’. It is carefully put together by the local vignerons and their helpers, using perfect bunches of white and black grapes that are almost ready to harvest, and then decorated with flowers.

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From procession to aperitif
The procession of the biou, weighing nearly 90kg (200 pounds) carried by four strong wine producers, is led by two young violinists and accompanied by wine-growers young and old, leaving from La Maison de Vercel (the old wine-growing family famous for its collection of 1774 Arbois wine), passing through the middle of the town, and down to the church of St-Just, past several wine producers shops and the famous Hotel-Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet.

Chef Jean-Paul Jeunet and his staff come out with all of Arbois to watch the Biou procession ©Brett Jones

In the church a service takes place, blessing the biou, which ends up being hung above the altar as thanks to God for the harvest to come. The town is looking into the possibility of applying for the Biou festival to be classified by UNESCO.

In Eglise St-Just ©Brett Jones

After the church ceremony, a further, more recently established procession takes place of local Arbois dignitaries, firemen and marching bands culminating in a wreath, also made up of bunches of grapes, being placed on the War Memorial. Once this is through there is a mad dash by all of the town to reach the tables where wines are served as a free aperitif by the Arbois wine producers.

The weekend’s events include a funfair, art shows, guided tours of the town and a wonderful exhibition of wild mushrooms, meticulously presented, labelled and categorised (deadly, poisonous, ordinary or edible) by the local mycological (mushroom) society. More than 100 species are gathered in local woodlands over the previous two days.

Small and challenging harvest in prospect
On our short visit to the Jura we were dodging rain showers, and when we visited Benoit Badoz in Poligny, we were unable to visit his vineyards. Benoit affirmed that, as in Burgundy, it has been a very difficult summer here, with bad weather around flowering time, and repeated attacks of mildew. As everyone it seems, Benoit had to spray his vineyards on more occasions than usual this year. Apart from being down 10% in crop levels, the worry now is that rot might develop before the grapes are ready to harvest.

A brief chat with Stéphane Tissot, whilst he was helping to build the biou, confirmed the story of lower crops (in his case down 25%) but he was typically up-beat about quality prospects. “La vie est belle?” is always Stéphane’s question – life is wonderful, of course, and Stéphane is always the optimist.

Sommelier Christophe Menozzi and Writer Wink Lorch

The writer with sommelier Christophe Menozzi ©Brett Jones

For a more independent viewpoint I turned to Christophe Menozzi, sommelier for the Château de Germigney restaurant, who we met for a civilized coffee on the terrace of the château after he had worked Sunday lunchtime service there. We, incidentally, had eaten a less expensive, tasty meal at the lovely Germigney-owned Bistrot de Port Lesney followed by a walk around the delightful village.

Christophe described harvest prospects as “un catastrophe” and reported that unusually for Jura both downy mildew (peronospera) and powdery mildew (oidium) had been widespread. Jacques Puffeney, always one to compare back to previous vintages, shared with Christophe that the last vintage like this was back in 1958 – not good news. Everyone agreed Poulsard (or Ploussard) is the worst hit variety.

The harvest is due to start in the next few days – here’s hoping for good weather to come, so that later-ripening varieties at least can enjoy some more sunshine. Good luck to everyone.

And finally: Is there love in the vineyards of Pupillin?
We stayed in one of the chambres d’hôtes in the wine village of Pupillin, just next to Arbois, and enjoyed a splendid treat of a meal out at Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet. We rarely eat at 2-star Michelins and this meal lived up to everything it should have in terms of food, presentation and service, and without too much pomposity as befits the Jura region. After discussion with sommelier Alain Guillou, we drank the Savagnin 2008 from Arbois grower Domaine de la Tournelle. which matched our dishes perfectly.

The vines of Pupillin love Philippe Bornard  but will he find his true love? ©Philippe Trias, Le Progrès

On our second night, paying 1/7th of the price of dinner at Jeunet, we relished the simple food, plentiful Pupillin wine and company of other guests at the table d’hôte dinner served at Le Pom’ Paille where we were staying. Discussion turned to Pupillin wine producer Philippe Bornard, separated from his wife a few years ago, and who is currently one of the contenders of the reality French TV Show L’Amour est dans le Pré where single farmers looking for a mate try to get matched up. After a couple of appearances, with two ladies in the running for his affections, it appears the little village of Pupillin (population 250) is being besieged by women wanting a glimpse of Philippe’s home turf or even the man himself. Rumour has it that he’s keeping his options open, but enjoying the show…. It’s great publicity for the beautiful Jura landscape.

The Biou procession begins – Stéphane Tissot is one of the porters ©Brett Jones

As ever, forty-eight hours in the Jura was full of interest, meeting lovely people generous with their time, and eating and drinking well of course. But most of all it was the Fête du Biou which was the highlight, even having seen it three times before, the atmosphere and the dedication to keeping up this tradition by the local vignerons never fails to move me.

Categories: Producers, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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