Posts Tagged With: Le Nez dans Le Vert

Good and Bad Jura News plus Wines of the French Alps

First the bad news. I am writing this with a heavy heart, feeling desperately sorry for vignerons all over the Jura wine region, many of whom have been hit with severe frost damage over the past two nights and there is another freezing night to come. My Facebook stream abounds with photos and comments from vignerons who have lost some or all of their potential 2017 crop.

Frost in Jura - April 2017 - Jerôme Genée (2)

Leaves and baby grapes attacked by frost in the Jura, April 2017. Photos above and below by Jérôme Genée.

Many people in the region suggest that this is likely to be the worst spring frost since 1991 – conservative estimates are of 45% damage, but it could be worse. What makes this a particular catastrophe is that stocks in the vignerons’ cellars are very low following a string of small vintages since 2011. And, in general, especially for Jura wineries who export, especially those who are organic, sales are booming.Frost in Jura - April 2017 - Jerôme Genée (1)

Everyone feared this sort of cold snap following several weeks of extremely warm weather, which gave early bud-break and a big growth spurt too. Until the frost, the vine development was about three weeks earlier than average. The problem is not exclusive to the Jura, but widespread in France and other northerly wine countries. It can only be hoped that nature allows what remains to mature without further catastrophe.

Excellent and varied tasting events
And now to the good news. The 7th edition of Jura’s organic wine fair Le Nez dans le Vert in late March was very well attended once again. At the official opening, joint presidents Stéphane Tissot and Jean-Etienne Pignier said that increasing numbers of Jura estates were converting to organics and that nearly 20% of the vineyard area is now organic or in conversion. Stéphane noted that it takes double the labour force to farm one hectare of organic vineyard compared to conventional and thus organic estates were providing work opportunities. Etienne commented that the Le Nez dans le Vert group of vignerons is very dynamic and helps young organic vignerons get established.

Anne Ganevat pours at Le Nez dans le Vert 2017

Anne Ganevat pours samples to eager and early-arriving trade participants at Le Nez dans le Vert. Photo by Brett Jones

As ever, it was hard to get close to some of the star vignerons for tasting, but by going very early on the morning of the trade day, I managed to taste with Anne and Jean-François Ganevat for the first time in a while. The four whites from the 2014 vintage were pristine, with the magnum of Cuvée Marguerite, the Melon à Queue Rouge showing gorgeous richness combined with vibrancy.  I loved the Plein Sud Trousseau 2015 too, although the Pinot Cuvée Julien was too volatile for my taste. With Emmanuel Houillon, I tasted his lovely lemony, 2010 Savagnin (topped-up), which is still in foudres – he plans to bottle some of this later in the year.

With Edouard Hirsinger at LNDV 2017

It might have been hard to get near the star vignerons, but I was happy just saying hello to one of France’s most famous chocolatiers – Edouard Hirsinger from Arbois. Photo by Brett Jones.

Among many other stand-out whites were two Chardonnay 2015s, one from Domaine Berthet-Bondet, made from the vineyards in Passenans that they took over from Domaine Grand, and the other, Les Soupois from Domaine Buronfosse, showing that even in that warm year, if the vines are worked well and the grapes picked at the right point that tangy Jura acidity can still be present. Two Savagnin ouillés from Pascal and Evelyne Clairet shone –  the Fleur de Savagnin 2014 was really stony and their new release 2008 Réserve, topped up in barrel for three years and then aged in bottle, was intense and fabulous. I found a bargain Savagnin Ouillé 2012 from Gérard and Christine Villet, perfectly smokey, aged in old foudres for two years, ideal to enjoy over the next few years.

Of the reds I tasted, I fell for several blends (not all AOC) including 2016s (mainly still in tank or barrel) from Domaine Labet the predominantly-Gamay Métis; Alice Bouvot’s Zerlina, which is a Pinot/Trousseau blend; and the Vieux Cépages from Raphaël Monnier (Ratapoil), all almost ready to bottle. A finished 2015 of Domaine Pignier’s Cuvée Léandre was tasting as lovely as ever and I made the discovery of Domaine Buronfosse SE KWA SA (explanation said out loud the name is ‘c’est quoi ça’ means ‘what IS that?’) a 2015 blend of classic and old Jura varieties, which I decided to grab for drinking over the next couple of years, if it lasts that long in my cellar. Finally, the only Crémant I tasted – the bone dry Brut Nature from Champ Divin, was well … divine … and we should have bought some of that too.

Jura Seminar NYC 2017

The Jura Wines seminars I delivered in Chicago and New York were full with a waiting list. Photo by Brett Jones.

Over in Chicago and New York, the atmosphere at the official CIVJ Jura trade tastings was totally different, but every bit as enthusiastic. The room was full of sommeliers and enthusiastic educators in particular, as well as retailers, and it was great to see the Jura vignerons practice their English in relaxed mode away from home. I had only a little opportunity to taste as I was delivering seminars first, then selling books, but I managed to go through almost all the Chardonnays in the room in Chicago, then chose to focus on Trousseau in New York.

The US trade mission producers were  mainly (but far from exclusively) the region’s larger ones and it was great to see a really excellent average quality shining through. One new star on the export mission for the first time, was the biodynamic Domaine Ratte – and as I had limited tasting experience with them, I tasted their 2015 range, which showed very well. The evening consumer events were fairly riotous as space was tight, but showed the ongoing enthusiasm for Jura wines in the US. Jura wines are definitely not just a fashion, they have now been around, doing well and growing in the US for almost ten years…

Pouring Savoie at Chambers Street Wines while selling Jura Wine book - April 2017

Customers at Chambers Street Wines in NYC are still fascinated by Jura and indeed buying the Jura Wine book, but also interested in the next project …

Support the Kickstarter for Jura Wine‘s Companion Volume – Wines of the French Alps
In case you’ve missed the news elsewhere, at last I am working hard on a promised second book: Wines of the French Alps – Savoie, Bugey and beyond. Wines of the French Alps CoverThe book will be in the same style as the Jura Wine book but delving, at last, into the wines of Savoie and Bugey, and covering a few smaller Alpine areas further south.

In New York, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the book, as well as providing the motivation of hundreds of people waiting for it! The campaign is doing well and is nearly 75% funded, but I hope to exceed the target – book costs are always greater than they seem. I would appreciate your support for the campaign, whether by pledging for the book or another reward or sharing the Kickstarter link among your networks. The end date is May 8th, so please act soon.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/winklorch/wines-of-the-french-alps-savoie-bugey-and-beyond

Thank you and forgive the radio silence while I write this book!

Categories: News, Producers | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jura tastings, events and a tour in 2017

Domaine Pêcheur Jura

Christian Pêcheur’s wines are newly available in the USA through Neal Rosenthal. ©Brett Jones

In 2016 the Jura went from strength to strength in terms of its wine distribution worldwide as well as its offering to tourists. Due to the latter, I get the impression that certain vignerons are inundated with requests for visits and hard-pressed to keep up with the demand on their time to host visitors. Group visits planned in advance make it easier for vignerons, and this year in October I will be leading an exciting tour, see below for details along with information about other tastings, seminars and a webinar.

Another challenging vintage
The 2016 vintage appears to have been a roller-coaster one, ending up with mixed results across the region, but considerably better than feared at the height of summer. The good news was that unlike several other French regions, Jura was almost miraculously spared from spring frost damage and there was only very localised hail damage. The bad news was the incredibly wet early summer that sent the levels of powdery mildew soaring, being too wet in some weeks for growers to even get into the vineyards to spray. Some crop was lost, especially Chardonnay; the gloriously sunny and hot July/August stopped the spread of disease but the next worry was extreme heat and drought that left growers greatly concerned as the vines shut down for a while, preventing grapes from ripening. It really was a nail-biting year, but as so often September saved the harvest bringing some essential rain near the start of the month and then fine, warm weather.

St-Lothain Jura vineyards

The end of an exhausting vintage year – 2016 in the vineyards of St-Lothain, Côtes du Jura. ©Brett Jones

Harvest started towards the end of September for most vignerons and was extended over several weeks. In the end, the sturdy and late-ripening Savagnin did well, but reports about the other varieties are varied. Interestingly, one might expect the organic growers to have suffered most, but in 2016 it seems that wasn’t the case at all. Hard work for those using some biodynamic methods paid off, giving the vines more strength to resist the drought, even if some volume was lost to mildew. Reports from some organic growers are that they actually sprayed fewer times than their conventional colleagues. I have not yet had a chance to taste the results, but first reports are that quality overall is good. Since 2011 there seems not to have been a ‘normal’ vintage in terms of quantity and quality, even if 2015 was unquestionably of very good quality.

Wine Scholar Guild embraces Jura education
Last year I conducted a one-hour webinar, called ‘Jura Ins & Outs’ for the burgeoning Wine Scholar Guild (formerly The French Wine Society). Usually only available for members of the Wine Scholar Guild, they have now made it free to view on YouTube.

This is in advance of two other events for them this year. Firstly, I shall be hosting a second webinar all about the producers and important people of Jura past and present on Wednesday 1st March – Jura Who’s Who … if you are a member of the Wine Scholar Guild, then do please join me online live and then you can ask questions.

And, the very exciting news is that I will be leading an exclusive 4-day Jura Wine study tour for the Wine Scholar Guild (but open also to non-members) in October. We will stay at the prestigious Hotel Château de Germigny, including two meals at its excellent 1-star Michelin restaurant. The details of the itinerary are on the link, but I should warn you that these are provisional – I hope to include as many fascinating producers possible in the time, but the choice will be restricted to those who can host a group of 15 people, so the very small, time-pressed vignerons are not included. Do spread the word among Jura wine lover friends – I know there are many who have been waiting for an opportunity to join a guided tour and this will be a very special one. My partner, Brett Jones, aka The Wine Maestro, will be accompanying me and the group as tour leader. Together we will ensure everyone gets the most out of the intensive visits, the tour around the region and the meals – and he is sure to take some great pictures too.

lndlv-2017Le Nez dans le Vert – Jura’s organic showpiece
The annual tasting show for over 40 of Jura’s organically-certified vignerons is back this year at Domaine de la Pinte, just outside Arbois. If you are connected to the trade or press, you can attend on the somewhat quieter Monday morning, followed by a wonderful lunch with all the vignerons. Otherwise, for consumers it’s still well worth attending on the Sunday, when the tasting is open all day.

Do read my post about the 2016 edition of the Nez dans le Vert tasting. I will not know until closer to the date if I can attend, but let me know privately if you are coming – I will bring some books to sell and to sign of course!

Frankly Wines hosts Wink Lorch and Jura wines

On a previous visit to NYC, where Frankly Wines kindly dubbed me the ‘Queen of the Jura’. ©Brett Jones

See you in New York and Chicago!
I’m very excited to be joining a group of 18 Jura producers for the region’s annual export trade tastings in the USA, this year to be held in Chicago on Monday 3rd April and in New York on Wednesday 5th April. Each morning I shall be presenting a comprehensive seminar and tasting; the tastings then stay open in the afternoon for trade and press, and re-open in the evening for consumers. I shall be around all day and evening and my books will be available to buy (bring cash please!) and sign. Of course, if you want me to sign your previously-purchased book, do bring it along to the event. The venues will be announced soon. For futher details, please contact Allison Slute at allison.slute@marqenergie.com.

Apart from the events above, Jura is taking somewhat a back seat for me in 2017 as I am working on my new book, Wines of the French Alps, focussing on Savoie, Bugey and other nearby French Alpine regions. If you follow this blog, please forgive a one-off email and a big social media drive next month about a Kickstarter campaign to support the publication of the new book.

Categories: Events and Tastings, News | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

A Look Back at the Jura Wine World in 2015

A year ago I was far away, working for Wine-Searcher in New Zealand, but keeping an eye on what was going on in the Jura wine region and on how its wines were continuing to make waves around the world. I had the chance to present my book at dinners and tastings in New Zealand, Australia and in the US – it was great fun to meet Jura wine lovers everywhere.

Jura wine tasting dinner

An amazing line-up for an extraordinary tasting dinner in Sydney with Greg Murphy and Shannon Noble © Brett Jones

I returned to Europe in May and since then have made a few brief trips in the Jura, attended tastings in Paris and London and, once harvest was underway, discovered generally an upbeat mood in the region. And, I’ve been selling my book well in the local Jura bookshops. What follows in an update on what’s going on in the region. And, if you don’t have my book yet, or want to give a copy as a gift, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a very special offer!

What was most notable during the year was how much press the little Jura wine region received, especially given its tiny size. Could this be a fashion, many asked? Was it all my doing, because of the book, queried some? My answer to these questions could be no and no, but more accurately it should be ‘partly’. Exports have leapt from 7% to 10% and that’s with a series of small vintages too, and the buzz has grown and grown. For more on this see my thoughts over on Wine Travel Media.

Changes: the old guard moves on and newcomers keep coming
As widely reported, last December Jacques Puffeney let the cat out of the bag (early apparently according to his importer Neal Rosenthal) that he was selling most of his vineyards to Domaine du Pélican, the Jura estate owned mainly by Guillaume, Marquis d’Angerville. Since then I’ve visited with both Jacques and with François Duvivier of Pélican to taste the 2014s and discuss the changes. The fact is that Jacques had no successors and needed to sell. Negotiations to sell to his US importer and vigneron Michel Gahier just didn’t work and the offer from d’Angerville (with whom I know he had been talking since long before Pélican took on its first vineyards in 2012) was simply better. As Jacques used his personal name on his labels and not that of a domaine, the name on the label evidently stops with his last vintage – the 2014. Some of his 2014 wines have been recently released, others will take longer, notably the Vin Jaune for release no earlier than 2021, but it is resolutely Jacques who will shepherd them to bottle as d’Angerville did not buy his stocks.

François Duvivier in the Pélican barrel cellar © Mick Rock/Cephas

François Duvivier in the Pélican barrel cellar © Mick Rock/Cephas

Domaine du Pélican, who are vinifying wines from Jacques’ vineyards for the first time this year, are likely to keep them separately to begin with – in future they may release individual cuvées. Two things are rarely talked about concerning Pélican – firstly is their complete devotion to getting the best out of their biodynamically run vineyards (those from Jacques are now in conversion) and secondly is that they have many links with local Jura vignerons. Two examples: new plantings are from massal selections from Domaines Pignier and La Pinte; and their manager Rémi Treuvey, is himself a Jurassien from a long line of vignerons. It’s true their first vintages taste perhaps too polished for the Jura, but I say give them time and the vineyards will speak out eventually.

In other moves, Domaine Grand, once believed to be up for sale, has stayed in family hands. Brothers Sébastien and Emmanuel have gone their separate ways, so half the vineyards were sold, but Emmanuel has retained the premises and the business, joining with his partner Nathalie and there seems to be a real enthusiasm there. I have yet to visit. Among those who bought vineyards from Grand are Les Dolomies and Domaine Berthet-Bondet (now with daughter Hélène very much part of the team having completed wine production studies at Montmorot). Rumour has it that Domaine Rolet in Arbois will also stay in family hands, this is yet to be 100% confirmed, but could be good news. The other big, but not entirely unexpected news at the end of 2014 is that the giant Burgundy-based négociant Maison Boisset has taken the majority shares of Henri Maire. It remains to be seen what they will do to improve the wines and re-vamp their terrible shop in Arbois.Nez dans le Vert

In Paris at Le Nez dans le Vert organic tasting in November, along with established participants there were two relative newcomers whose wines I had not tasted. Valentin Morel has now taken over the running of Domaine Morel in Poligny from his father Jean-Luc Morel. He is not only converting the vineyards to organic cultivation, but is also making the wines in an entirely natural way, with no or very low sulphur – he showed a 2014 Trousseau that was juicy, but a touch hard, but a 2015 barrel sample of Chardonnay showed excellent purity. Philippe Châtillon, who years ago ran Domaine de la Pinte, has established his own tiny domaine in Passenans and Arbois, converting the vineyards immediately to organics. In 2014 he also worked without any SO2 as an experiment. I was impressed with his range, especially a deliciously drinkable Pinot Noir named La Grande Chaude. The wines from several other relatively recently-established vignerons go from strength to strength – these include, on the really natural side, Catherine Hannoun of Domaine de La Loue, with an interesting (pale) orange wine named Cuvée Raphaëlle, and Jean-Baptiste Ménigoz of Les Bottes Rouge. Other organic producers, whose ranges are tasting great, include Géraud and Pauline Fromont of Domaine des Marnes Blanches and Patrice Hughes-Béguet.

The 2015 Vintage
Some background first. The last ‘normal’ vintage was in 2011, so growers were keeping everything crossed for 2015, most particularly for decent quantity, though of course everyone cares about quality too. Combining vintages 2012 and 2013 for some organic producers produced the sum of a normal vintage and red wines were in particularly short supply. In 2013, many producers lost much of their Savagnin to a type of pre-flowering coulure that meant future bunches just dropped off the vines due to the very cold early summer. In 2014, the scourge of the Japanese vinegar fly drosophila suzukii wrecked the Poulsard vintage so badly that compromises had to be made – selection wasn’t enough, they had to pick early, ripe or not, or lose the crop and few risked no sulphur additions. The sunny autumn saved the harvest of other grapes thank goodness, but overall no-one had a big crop.

Pupillin harvest

The 2014 harvest was saved by a warm autumn, but it was too late for most of Pupillin’s Ploussard, ravaged by an insect. © Mick Rock/Cephas

In 2015 spring passed with almost no outbreaks of frost or disastrous hail. Flowering was almost perfect (again there were some problems with Savagnin) and once summer came it was dry and hot – very, very close to being too dry and too hot. There was a palpable sense of panic in July as the vines simply stopped functioning, shades of 2003 except that this time there had at least been some winter and spring rainfall. Then, unlike in Burgundy, there was some welcome rainfall in August and the vignerons could breathe again. Hot weather returned, which meant a rush to harvest grapes for Crémant at the end of August and the first days of September. Many admitted it was a little late to catch the decent acidity levels usually required for good Crémant – maybe this means we might have some dryer cuvées from 2015 base – we’ll see. Odd things happened. Trousseau, which is usually the last red to be picked, was showing a potential of 13-14% alcohol at the start of September, before the Poulsard was ripe.

At the end of the day, everyone was smiling at the great quality of all the grapes picked in 2015, with a few concerns about low acidities and some concern about quantity. Oddly the vignerons worried about quantity were those who farm conventionally, or in lutte raisonnée or so-called sustainable agriculture, rather than those working organically. The latter seemed happy, not citing big quantities but – for a change – normal quantities. My theory is that either those working with biodynamic preparations are feeding their vines the forces that can resist drought better, or those who have partly grassed-down vineyards often between every other row, simply suffered from too much competition for the water. These days, most organic growers work with a bare earth principal, ploughing up the weeds and working the soil when needed and this meant no competition for water.

Visiting the Region in 2016 – Dates and Changes
The annual Jura wine festival, the Percée du Vin Jaune will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016 and will be held on February 6th-7th February in Lons-le-Saunier. Attracting 40,000 visitors, many believe this may be the last time the festival will be held in the same format – despite the fees paid by attendees, costs are very high and many wonder whether it is time to change the format.

Hirsinger chocolates

Arbois remains a gourmet paradise with the Hirsinger chocolate shop in the centre. © Mick Rock/Cephas

The year 2016 is likely to see many changes in the restaurant scene in Arbois. It is believed that Thierry Moyne has sold La Balance; Jean-Paul Jeunet is likely to be retiring, apart from for special events, and handing over to his ‘second’ who he has been working with for many years; Bistrot les Claquets is rumoured to be up for sale. In the meantime, a new restaurant has just opened – Brasserie Aux Docks is on the main square, a few paces from Hirsinger chocolate shop and the many wine shops of Arbois. It will have a short menu, using local/seasonal ingredients – the chef was the ‘second’ at Château de Germigny until this summer. The wine list, to be launched in January (a shorter version is in place right now) will have over 100 Jura wines from over 40 producers, selected by me (there’s the disclaimer), plus a choice of wines from other regions, of course.

I have only recently had a chance to see an enjoyable new addition to the Jura bibliography that came out a year ago – Jura sources & ressources (landscapes & portraits). The photographs and themes are by Serge Reverchon and the text – effectively extended captions – is very competently translated by Caroline Hughes-Béguet, wife of Patrice, the vigneron. For those holidaying in the Jura this book provides plenty of extra ideas of where to visit when you want a break from wine! It’s only available direct from Serge Reverchon or in the local Jura bookshops. And speaking of books …

Jura Wine BookHoliday Offer for Jura Wine Book
If you would like a signed (or unsigned) copy of the second impression of my award-winning book Jura Wine for yourself or as a gift, then order from Wine Travel Media and use the code NY1625 for 25% discount, valid up to 5th January. Mailing costs are extra and cannot be discounted. If you want the book signed, then please state this in the comments, dedications are not always possible.

The book is available on Amazon but will cost you more! For the electronic versions, click here to order on Kindle or click here for iBooks.

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

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: