Posts Tagged With: Jura wine book

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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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.

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Jura Wine Book Shortlisted for Prestigious Award

Roederer Wine Writers Awards ShortlistI am proud to announce that my book ‘Jura Wine’ has been shortlisted for the prestigious award of Louis Roederer International Wine Book of the Year in the 10th International Wine Writers’ Awards 2014.

The International Wine Book of the Year 2014 is sponsored by Domaines Faiveley.

Judges for all the categories in competition were Jamie Goode, Robert Joseph, Gabriella Opaz and Margaret Rand, chaired by Charles Metcalfe.

It is a real honour to be included on this list with the other four books which are as follows:

The Champagne Guide 2014-2015
by Tyson Stelzer

Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and sparkling wine
by Tom Stevenson & Essi Avellan MW

The New California Wine
by Jon Bonné

The World Atlas of Wine 7th Edition
by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson OBE MW

The winner will be announced at a special event for all the Louis Roederer Wine Writers’ Awards in London on Tuesday 9 September 2014.

Read the article on Wine-Searcher for more details on the awards.

If you haven’t yet purchased the book, check out the reviews and the book stockists soon as stocks are going down … There will be an e-book in the next month or so, so look out for that, however it won’t look half as good as the printed book and will not be heavily discounted either.

Thanks are due once again to all who encouraged me to write the book, supported its publication, purchased it in advance or bought it more recently, as well as everyone who helped me so much in its production. Thanks too to all the Jura vignerons and their wines, without whom there would, of course, be no book.

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Domaine de la Renardière (Jean-Michel Petit)

Starting today around two or three times a month I will post an excerpt from the Jura Wine Book, often with a small addendum. I will include illustrations too that are either used in the book, or from the photo shoot that I did with Mick Rock of Cephas. All images are fully copyrighted of course, as is the text.

If you have not yet bought the book, I hope this might encourage you to do so – you can find stockists and comments about the book on the new Jura Wine book page.

Domaine de la Renardière – Pupillin, Arbois

Jean-Michel Petit Pupillin

The mural outside Domaine de la Renardière in Pupillin shows Jean-Michel and his wife Laurence. ©Mick Rock/Cephas

He might be running between commitments, but Jean-Michel always offers a twinkly smile together with a straight answer to any question. More than anyone in Pupillin, Jean-Michel has been as much involved in the ‘mother appellation’ Arbois as he has in his own village. AOC Arbois syndicate president for many years, I’ve seen him carrying the Biou in Arbois; he was president of the Percée festival in Arbois in 2011; and he always turns up to greet the media with a regional hat firmly on his head. Somehow, between supporting his village, region and even the young and up-and-coming producers in the appellation, he finds time to produce a consistently lively and eminently drinkable range of wines. Jean-Michel’s stated aim in his brochure is to ‘make music from the mosaic of soils below our feet’, but the imprint on his labels is of a hand – his own, representing the importance of hand-harvesting, lending a hand and much more.

Quite rightly, the vineyards are the focus for Jean-Michel. Growing up in Pupillin (distantly related to the other Petit family in the village) with parents and grandparents who farmed vines and took their grapes to the cooperative, he returned after five years of wine studies and work experience around the world of wine to create his own estate with his wife Laurence. He took over his family’s 2ha of vines and accumulated other vineyards little by little, in various parcels on the different terroirs within Pupillin. He has always believed in working the soil and using only organic fertilizer and, after years working in lutte raisonnée, he made the move to start organic certification in 2012, although he had been using biodynamic preparations 500 and 501 on some of his plots for a couple of years.

The small winery lies on both sides of one of Pupillin’s side roads with an amusing and distinctive colourful mural showing several generations of the family adorning one side. Jean-Michel’s winemaking has always been thoughtful – vinifying the grapes from each plot apart, fermentation using indigenous yeast, and little use of other standard winery interventions. Apart from for Ploussard, he is not likely to go down the no sulphur route, yet he told me that, as with most producers, today he uses around a third of the amount of SO2 than when he started making wine 20 years ago.

Domaine de la Renardière Pupillin

Jean-Michel Petit in front of some of his foudres ©Mick Rock/Cephas

All styles of whites and reds are matured in wood of varying sizes. Reds, including Ploussard, are aged in large foudres – his is the example from this village that I have always found to be one of the most accessible. Yet it is his clear-cut topped-up whites that really sing, starting with the tangy and lemony Savagnin ouillé Les Terrasses, which comes from a steep south-facing terraced plot. From the mid-2000s Jean-Michel has made two Chardonnay cuvées that show the Jura terroir character well – Jurassique is from plots with more limestone and the more profound Les Vianderies is from older vines in a gravelly vineyard with marl below – the latter is aged in both 500-litre and 228-litre barrels.

In his quiet way Jean-Michel has experimented with his range without extending it dramatically as some wineries do, keeping to a modest (for the Jura) 14 different wines. A late-harvest white blend of two-thirds Chardonnay and one-third Savagnin was once called Vendange Oublié (‘Forgotten Harvest’ – as it literally was the first time it was made) and has morphed into Les Oubliées, as the labelling fraud squad did not like the original name. The wine is made only in good years and, though usually dry, can be rather over-rich for my taste, but with plenty of intensity of flavour. The usual range of specialities from Crémant through to Vin Jaune, Paille and Macvin are made but account for only a quarter of production, including the Pétillant Naturel called Le Pet de Léo. This was first made by son Léo at 14 years old from a Ploussard vineyard planted in 1993, the year of his birth. Léo has studied wine production at Mâcon and is continuing his education in marketing at Suze-la-Rousse, so this estate should be in safe hands in the future.

Domaine de la Renardière exports account for about a third of sales, but it is the combination of a well-deserved string of medals in French wine competitions and mentions in guides, with a very open and educational approach to welcoming customers at the estate, that keeps his regular French customers returning. For several years each Saturday in June Jean-Michel and Laurence have conducted vineyard tours, followed by a tasting and lunch, an innovative approach for the Jura and something that has helped build up their loyal following. I sincerely hope that they throw a big party to celebrate the quarter-century of their domaine, which is a huge credit to the Arbois-Pupillin appellation, a valeur sûre or safe bet, as they say in France.

Domaine de la Renardière sign ©Mick RockDomaine de la Renardière
Rue du Chardonnay, 39600 Pupillin
Tel: 03 84 66 25 10
Email: renardiere@libertysurf.fr
Contact: Jean-Michel Petit
Established: 1990
Certification: Ecocert
Vineyards: 6.8ha (2.4ha Chardonnay, 1.3ha Savagnin, 1.7ha Ploussard (Poulsard), 0.7ha Trousseau, 0.7ha Pinot Noir)
Visits: Tasting room, visits welcomed by appointment

.

Jean-Michel has been promising to publish his own website for some time!

The wines are imported into the UK by Enotria UK and at their trade tasting in February 2014 Brett Jones recorded a short interview with Jean-Michel Petit. Some of the range is available from The Wine Society.

In New York Domaine de la Renardière wines are sold in the Wine Library and at Zachys, among other places. Please feel free to add other stockists in the comments.

 

 

 

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

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