Posts Tagged With: Percée du vin jaune

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

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot

As I write, last minute preparations are taking place for the second annual official Wines of Jura trade tasting in London, which takes place tomorrow. Twenty producers will be present each showing six wines on their tables. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon I host a masterclass giving an introduction to the wines of the region. And, at 1pm we will be celebrating the Jura wine book with a taste of four rather special Crémants du Jura.

The great thing about this Jura trade and press tasting is that even though several producers have agents already, it is the producers themselves who come over to present their wines for tasting. The profile that follows is of one of these producers who has not yet found an agent and is my second excerpt from the book. Based in Montigny, this is the least well-known Tissot domaine, run today by Jean-Christophe and his sister Valérie Tissot, whose parents Jean-Louis and Françoise founded the domaine. The two women of the estate – Françoise and her daughter Valérie, who speaks English, will be at the tasting. Valérie is also president of next year’s Percée du Vin Jaune, which takes place in the village of Montigny on Saturday 31 January and Sunday 1 February.

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot –
Montigny-les-Arsures, Arbois

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot

Valérie and Jean-Christophe outside the house in Les Arsures ©Mick Rock/Cephas

Sister and brother, bubbly Valérie and shy Jean-Christophe Tissot run this estate, but their retired parents Françoise and Jean-Louis lend them a willing hand, Françoise helping out with tastings and Jean-Louis in the vineyard – for them, retirement is theoretical. Françoise Masson from the hamlet of Vauxelles, between Arbois and Montigny, married Jean-Louis Tissot from Montigny (2km away) in 1965; she had two grandparents closely connected with the wine business. On her father’s side, Albert Masson ran a service making sparkling wines for vignerons, important even back in the early 20th century. On her mother’s side, Albert Piroutet was one of the founders of the Arbois Fruitière and among those who worked hard for Arbois to obtain the AOC in 1936. Françoise’s father also joined the cooperative and she inherited his vines to pool with the 1.6ha that Jean-Louis inherited from his father Maurice Tissot. In the early years Jean-Louis was part of the Fruitière too, but after planting 8ha of vines in 1990 they decided to start producing their own wines.

Valérie studied wine production at Mâcon-Davayé and Jean-Christophe at Beaune. Today Valérie runs the commercial side of the business and Jean-Christophe makes the wine and is in charge of the vineyards together with their father Jean-Louis. They own various parcels around Montigny, including a few hectares in Les Bruyères with its heavy marl ideal for Poulsard and Savagnin. The vines are grassed down every other row, using herbicide only under the vine rows, and managed on lutte raisonnée lines with one full-time employee and three seasonal workers. Harvest is partly by hand and partly by machine and a small quantity of grapes is sold to the Cellier de Tiercelines négociant. Originally the wine was made and matured in Vauxelles, but in the early 2000s they bought a large house in Les Arsures, where Jean-Louis and Françoise moved together with Jean-Christophe. They installed a winery in the outbuildings with a ventilated loft area to dry Vin de Paille grapes and to age barrels for Vin Jaune, although most of the wine ageing remains in Vauxelles.

Vin Jaune ageing

Valérie & Jean-Christophe Tissot with the barrels of Vin Jaune they age in a loft area. ©Mick Rock/Cephas

Winemaking is simple and traditional. Reds are vinified in cement tank and, in the case of Trousseau and the Rouge Tradition (one-third each of Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir), aged in foudres. These reds in good years can be juicy and sappy, traditionally structured with those earthy tannins that are unexpected after the very pale colour of the wines. The Trousseau ages particularly well. There are two Chardonnays. The main cuvée is aged in tank and foudres, providing an excellent example of simple Arbois appley, mineral Chardonnay, needing a little time to emerge, and the Cuvée Jean-Christophe is partly aged in oak barrels; this is less successful. All Savagnin is aged for potential Vin Jaune and some withdrawn for a Reserve blend of 40% together with the classic Chardonnay, and some for a Savagnin. These are both decent examples, but the Vin Jaune shines as a very oxidative, nutty Arbois style with a touch of elegance.

This branch of the Tissot family may be less visible than the others, but the domaine is well worth seeking out for good-value, true-to-type wines produced by a family of real ambassadors for Arbois and its wines. So far they have not exported, selling directly to consumers and through wholesalers in France.

Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot
Vauxelles, 39600 Montigny-les-Arsures
Tel: 03 84 66 13 08
Contact: Valérie Tissot
Established: 1976 (vineyards 1965)
Vineyards: 17ha (6ha Chardonnay, 4ha Savagnin, 4.5ha Poulsard, 2ha Trousseau, 0.5ha Pinot Noir)

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

A celebration and tasting of Vin de Paille

For many decades on the nearest Sunday to the 22nd January, the village of Arlay in the Côtes du Jura has celebrated the patron Saint of wine growers, Saint Vincent to which its church is dedicated. A church service is followed by a procession of the Commanderie des Nobles Vins du Jura et du Comté in their red robes. From 2009, the village decided to add to the event by celebrating that nectar of the Jura, Vin de Paille, in an event named La Pressé du Vin de Paille. The fact that Arlay’s two principal producers, Château d’Arlay and Caves Bourdy are both well known for their Vin de Paille helped.

Commanderie Nobles Vins du Jura

Procession of the Commanderie des Nobles Vins du Jura ©Brett Jones

Compared with the huge event La Percée du Vin Jaune taking place this weekend, as always the first weekend of February, the Pressé is a modest village affair, albeit this year with a few hundred in attendance. The procession leading out of the Church was led by colourful locals dressed up in peasant gear, notably those wheeling ‘brûleurs de sarments’, metal braziers to burn the vine cuttings, and followed on by the dignitaries from the Commanderie. The actual pressing of a symbolic few crates of dried grapes took place twice in the day using an old wooden hopper and press mounted on a stage and the audience got to taste the resulting sticky grape juice. It is presided by Comte Alain de Laguiche and his winemaker Philippe Soulard of Château d’Arlay, with Jean-François and Jean-Philippe Bourdy of Caves Bourdy.

There was a good range of local food stands offering delicacies ranging from the local cheeses and hams, to snails, chestnuts, honey, nougat and cakes, as well as a clutch of Jura wine producer stands offering their complete ranges to taste. An inside exhibition provided some shelter from the inclement weather that arrived in the afternoon and offered an art exhibition, demonstration of barrel-making and a fine collection of local books with several authors present including Philippe Bétry, author of a recent excellent book on Vin de Paille.

A not-so-serious blind tasting
The guest of honour at this year’s event, inducted  into the Commanderie, was local Jura sommelier of Château de Germigney Christophe Menozzi, a good friend and real expert on Vin de Paille, who advised Philippe Bétry in his book on some fascinating food matches. In another nod to the Percée du Vin Jaune at which there is a rather serious competition to judge the best Vins Jaune, the ‘clavelinage’, Christophe had organised a little blind tasting of ten Vins de Paille, named a Paillevinage. The judges were mainly consumers (rather sweetly, those named Vincent were especially invited in honour of the day…) but I was able to join in, even though this was strictly an amateur competition to judge everyone’s favourite three wines.

Blind tastingChristophe gave advice to those new to tasting, especially blind tasting and suggested they spat – only I and the couple of vignerons present were seen to do this. But, really it was an extremely difficult selection to judge. From several  different vintages and all made from a different mix of grapes, with quite wildly varying sugar levels, it really did come down to me in choosing what I considered to be those with an attractive bouquet that on the palate showed the best balance, substance and harmony, and length.

So, drum roll …. My top three wines were L’Etoile Château de l’Etoile 2008, L’Etoile Château de Montbourgeau 2009 and Côtes du Jura Rousset-Martin Père et Fils 2006. Honourable mention should be given to the Arbois Jacques Tissot 2007 which was just behind in my scoring. The Montbourgeau was the overall 1st choice amongst the group of tasters.

To find out more about how Vin de Paille is produced, take a look at the Vin de Paille information page I have written for this site. For an excellent series of photographs by Jean-Michel Hugues dit Ciles, taken during the Pressé du Vin de Paille at Arlay this year, take a look at this this feature in the on-line Jura magazine Echos du Jura. And finally, enjoy this little video filmed by my partner Brett Jones.

And if you are coming to the Percée du Vin Jaune this coming weekend, for the fun, to taste or even to bid on that bottle of 1864 Château-Chalon, see you there among the 40,000 people expected, or seek me out via the Press Office.

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Betting on China and bidding for Château-Chalon

Today, a delegation of producers from the Jura are starting a week-long trip in China, starting at the Vin China exhibition in Beijing and continuing on to Ningbo near Shanghai, a free trade zone where they can present tastings of the wines they are taking with them. Meantime, equally surreal to some, a bottle of 1864 Château-Chalon has been announced as the star bottle for next year’s auction of old bottles at the Percée du Vin Jaune.

Jura export potential
The trip for the 23 intrepid producers who have gone to China has been financially supported by various regional bodies, who also support the campaign to promote the wines to the North American markets through trade tastings in various US and Canadian cities, and press visits to visit the Jura region. The work is paying off, and from a low base, exports are starting to increase.

There is definitely a niche for Jura wines to fit into most markets. In China, they are expecting their Vin Jaune, Vin de Paille and Macvin to go down well, along with white wines; reds are less popular. With Jura reds growing in demand both in the USA and at home in France, it’s probably a good thing that the Chinese prefer whites. As I concluded in my article on Jura exports in Meiningers Wine Business International, although the best producers have wines on allocation, there is plenty of wine available from others, and they will do well, providing they keep up their quality level.

Moveable festival at the foot of Château-Chalon
The Percée du Vin Jaune festival that takes place over the first week of February, is held in a different town or village each year. With 30-50,000 people expected over the weekend (numbers depend largely on weather) the logistics are demanding for every host town, but they always seem to manage to put together an amazing occasion.

Over the weekend of 2nd-3rd February 2013 the festival will be in Voiteur, the town at the foot of the Château-Chalon vineyards (with the village of Château-Chalon up above). There are several good chambres d’hôtes (B&Bs) in the area, but they will fill up fast, so if you plan to attend, book soon and remember to pack warm clothes.

The festival is held mainly outside, which was hard this February in Ruffey-sur-Seille near Arlay, when the temperature was down to a record -17°C. On both days of the festival, entertainers cruise the streets and wines are available to taste from about 75 producers who set up stall in cellars and rooms around the village. On Sunday there is a procession (video from last year above). Apart from tasting and keeping moving, one trick to keep warm on the Saturday afternoon is to duck into the designated building for the auction of old bottles.

The story of the old 1864 Château-Chalon
According to the press release, the 1864 on offer at the auction next year is from the collection a private individual and is a 65cl bottle in a clavelin-type bottle typical of La Vieille Loye glass-making factory (as discussed in my article on the 1774 Arbois in World of Fine Wine). The vintage date of 1864 appears actually embossed onto the bottle’s crest on the glass. The owner possessed two bottles, and back in the 1980s he asked local producer, Marius Perron of Voiteur to taste the two bottles and fill one with the other, re-cork and re-seal it.

Château-Chalon 1864 ©Le Progrès

As so often, the only person that has written about tasting a Château-Chalon 1864 is Paris-based fine wine collector François Audouze, who tasted that from Clos des Logaudes (unconfirmed, but this may be the same producer) with an American collector friend back in April 2006 over a special wine dinner. On various forums he admits that everyone at the dinner thought it was wonderful, but as the oldest Château-Chalon in his collection his expectations were so high that he marked it down on the night, and later felt that it was better than he noted. I’m somewhat confused by his notes, but it is known that 1864 was a great vintage, so it may well be that this bottle is an amazing 149-year-old wine, all set for a suitable celebration on its 150th birthday.

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