Tasting a complete range of Jura wines from a producer is always a challenge as there are so many styles, and if you taste from several producers at one event the tasting order dilemma is even greater. Last November at the Lille fair of the Vignerons Indépendants, I decided to taste the Crémants and reds first, return to each stand for the non-oxidative whites, finish with the oxidative whites and Vin Jaune, and finally the Vins de Paille.
With my eye partly on the clock and partly on my personal tasting limit, I stopped at seven producers, four in Arbois, written about in Part 1 and three from Côtes du Jura. I never managed to taste all the range from all seven, however, I was able to ask a few useful questions and was satisfied with the overall impression I managed to get from seven producers in a day.
Estates in the southern Côtes du Jura
I have never visited Domaine Jean-Luc Mouillard in the village of Mantry, which lies about half way between Poligny and Lons-le-Saunier. Founded in 1991 they farm eight hectares including 2ha of reds and just under 2ha of Savagnin, including a little in Château-Chalon, leaving around 3ha for Chardonnay. The Crémants (a 100% Chardonnay white and a 100% Pinot Noir rosé) were pleasant enough, the blended red less so, though a Pinot Noir 2011 was fair.
Better news when I tasted the whites. The Côtes du Jura Chardonnay 2010 that had been fermented and aged for 18 months in old oak, rigorously topped up was stony, mineral and long. The oxidative whites had excellent intensity including a l’Etoile 60/40 Chardonnay/Savagnin and a Côtes du Jura Savagnin 2008, a real baby Vin Jaune. Jean-Luc makes only Château-Chalon, no Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune, and the 2004 had a touch of peat on the nose and rich cooked fruit on the balanced palate. All in all, an interesting, traditional producer.
I have always maintained a soft spot for Domaine Baud in Le Vernois as this was my very first producer visit in the Jura, on a cold January day, I think in 1999. Alain Baud, then president of the Côtes du Jura appellation, painstakingly explained all about the various Jura wine styles and appellations, whilst taking me through his estate wines. He subsequently became head of the Jura INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine), and every year patiently answered my difficult questions whilst I was writing my annual update chapter for Wine Report.
Today, Alain is in charge of the cellars and the sales, with his quieter brother Jean-Michel in charge of the 20.5ha of vineyards. I know their wines well, and have always enjoyed certain of their traditional styles. This time I was particularly taken with their Crémants, especially the Brut Sauvage from 30% Pinot Noir and 70% Chardonnay, using more of the free-run juice for the base wine, three years ageing sur latte (on the 2nd fermentation yeast pre-disgorgement) and low dosage. It was dry, lively with a touch of spice from the lees, extremely long too.
As ever I enjoyed their red blend Ancestrale 2009 from 70% Trousseau with 30% Pinot Noir and in the whites the Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes 2007 from vines that are almost 50 years old showed great minerality. Finally, comparing a Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune 2004 with a Château-Chalon 2003, two very different vintages and terroirs, was instructive – the former was a pleasant, lighter-style Jaune and the latter had a fabulously curried nose and was intense, though not surprisingly for the hot year showing less acidity than normal, but certainly enough to age for a few years. If you are ever in the area Domain Baud has a very welcoming tasting room.
Domaine Grand are based in Passenans and are today run by brothers Emmanuel and Sébastien. They have long been known for the quality of their Crémant du Jura and as ever their 100% Chardonnay Brut Prestige with 18 months sur lattes tasted good. A big step up is their Vintage 2008 made only from the Chardonnay Cuvée or first pressing. With a classic yeasty flavour it remained fresh, delicate and long.
The southern part of the Jura is not as well known for its reds as its whites, and so I was really impressed with the three reds – one from each of the Jura varieties – that I tasted with Domaine Grand: a very light, delicious Poulsard 2011 made only in tank, and then the more juicy Trousseau 2011 and well-structured Pinot 2010 both made with a few months ageing in barrels of 3 – 4 years old. There are big improvements in the quality of wines at this estate since I last tasted and this was confirmed in the whites, in particular with their tangy and lemony Expression Savagnin 2011.
Other members of the Vignerons Indépendant Jura group based in the southern sector include Château d’Arlay, Château de l’Etoile, Domaine Berthet-Bondet, Domaine Geneletti, Domaine Jean-Claude Credoz, Domaine Pierre Richard, Domaine l’Aigle à Deux Têtes, Luc et Sylvie Boilley and Celliers des Chartreux (Domaine Pignier). As well as in Lille the Vignerons Indépendants events are held once or twice a year in Nice, Rennes, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lyon and Paris. Details of which growers are exhibiting is always posted in advance on their website so you can plan your visit.