Posts Tagged With: Trousseau

A stop along the Jura Wine Route

Detailed and colourful wine maps have long been a source of fascination and interest to me. Some designate geographic boundaries of appellations; others indicate the best vineyards or producers; a few will show features such as altitude; and there are also ambitious maps that attempt to combine the above.

In my Jura Wine book, I am proud to have maps by the talented wine educator, blogger and map-maker Quentin Sadler. The main Jura map provides an indication, rather than an exact rendition, of vineyard areas and appellation boundaries, in relation to local towns, rivers and – importantly – altitude. The book also includes a series of larger scale maps showing the location of vignerons profiled.

In the middle of lockdown, while browsing the Purple Pages members forum of Jancis Robinson’s website, I discovered the most original map of Jura I’ve seen in some time, designed primarily, I think, to make you smile. It was created by Brazilian Pedro Kok, an architectural photographer, who happens also to be passionate about wine.

On Pedro’s Instagram accounts in Portuguese and English he enjoys sharing illustrations of bad jokes about grape varieties. However, in lockdown, he decided also to make a series of maps and diagrams of vineyard areas he loved, each one in an entirely different style.

Below – for the sheer pleasure of it – I am sharing the map scrolls that show the Jura wine route between Lyon and Besançon, including producers’ locations, taken from my book. Pedro told me he had some prints made, which he offered to friends in return for bottles of Jura to keep him topped up during lockdown – a lovely swap.

Jura wine map

La route des vins du Jura sur le chemin entre Besançon et Lyon by Pedro Kok. 40x30cm inkjet on paper. 2020. Based on iconography by John Ogilby (published: London, 1675), arranged by K.M. Alexander.

My thanks to Pedro for allowing me to reproduce the map above – you can also access a larger resolution version on this link.

The Saint-Laurent quarter
Like many villages in the Jura, Montigny-sur-Arsures, the self-styled capital of the Trousseau grape, has several different quarters, and one is named Saint-Laurent. It is here that you will find Château de Chavanes (for some years run as an occasional bed and breakfast, and whose vineyards were taken over by Domaine du Pélican), Domaine Fumey-Chatelain, and at the top of the road, retired vigneron Jacques Puffeney. All are linked in some respects and I spent a very pleasant afternoon on my trip to Jura a few weeks ago reacquainting myself with the quarter, which is in effect a single street.

In my last post I mentioned a quick visit to Domaine du Pélican and since then I had the pleasure of interviewing the owners François Duvivier and Guillaume d’Angerville, as well as tasting six of their wines for the 67 Pall Mall series of masterclasses. If you missed it, you can now watch the video of the entire masterclass.

Having used the cellar of Château de Chavanes since taking over in 2012, Domaine du Pélican is building its own winery on the main vineyard site, complete with a ‘cave à Vin Jaune’ which should be finished next year. Meanwhile, the Fumey-Chatelain family, which has had close links with Château de Chavanes for generations and had taken over the original stables to use as its winery and tasting room, will now expand into the cellar that Pélican has been using.

Domaine Fumey-Chatelain has been run by Raphaël Fumey (a cousin both of Stéphane Tissot and of Frédéric Lornet) and his wife Adeline Chatelain, since 1991. The pair built up a steady local reputation for their wines, gradually increasing their vineyard area to 17ha, with more area to be taken over soon.

Their son, Marin Fumey has officially partnered with his parents on the estate since rushing back after harvest in Australia (and previously South Africa) in April in the middle of lockdown. However, he has been the main winemaker for a few years, while Raphaël runs the vineyards and Adeline the sales side. As he had for several years previously, Marin had been doing the Southern Hemisphere harvest – over the years, he has worked among others with Spinifex in Barossa, Barn Cottage in Central Otago and Peter-Allan Finlayson’s Crystallum in South Africa.

Not only has Marin now extensive winery experience and travelled widely, he also speaks excellent English, a rarity in the Jura. He has ambitious plans to move the family estate towards export sales and is hoping to fully convert the domaine to organics and biodynamics in 2022, if all goes well.

Fumey-Chatelain for blog

Adeline Chatelain and her son Marin Fumey outside the tasting room in Saint-Laurent © Wink Lorch

Tasting through the Fumey-Chatelain range for the first time in some years was a pleasure, especially the Trousseaus, which include a more expensive, richer cuvée from a vineyard planted with Trousseau à la Dame. The wine is amusingly labelled ‘Le Bastard’ in reference to the Portuguese name for Trousseau – Bastardo .

A couple of top-end Fumey-Chatelain whites were exciting too, the Chardonnay Le Zouave 2015 from a selection of their best vineyards, and the aromatic Savagnin Rose 2018. This Savagnin variation is the same as Klevener de Heiligenstein in Alsace, and I have also tasted an exciting one made by Jeff Vejr of Golden Cluster in Oregon. This may be the same as what is known as Savagnin Muscaté down in southern Jura as produced by Domaine des Marnes Blanches.

Marin made just one barrel from their two rows of Savagnin Rose vines. I bought two bottles and could not resist opening one with friends a few days later, a really intense, exotic wine, well balanced but zinging with acidity. I hope to resist the second bottle for a while as it will certainly age well. This is an estate to watch.

A tale from Jacques Puffeney
Before I left Saint-Laurent, I went to see Jacques, who I had last seen some years ago. Although his final vintage for most of his wines was 2014, he had kept back some of his best and oldest Trousseau vines and I was delighted to try with him the gorgeous 2017. This was his very last vintage before passing on these vines to Domaine du Pélican, who had already taken on the rest of his vineyards.

As we chatted I also tasted three Vins Jaune vintages: his 2013, just bottled in June, although originally planned for April bottling, a Jaune with the acid kick to allow it to age particularly well; the 2012, very good too, a vintage that offered quantity and quality; and a treat – the fabulous 2005 vintage, possibly the best this century.

140904.428 Jacques Puffeney, Ken Lamb Tour, Jura

With Jacques Puffeney on a visit a few years ago. © Brett Jones

I asked Jacques to tell me about his earliest encounter with his New York-based US importer Neal Rosenthal. Although Jacques’ wines were not the only ones to be in the US in the late 1990s, his wines, especially the reds, really did much to spark the interest in Jura wines in the US.

Jacques told me how Neal had arrived one morning in the middle of harvest in 1996 and how he told him that he was too busy looking after the press to give Neal a tasting. Eventually Neal persuaded Jacques to receive him for a quick tasting at the end of the day; in the meantime, apparently Neal made a quick trip to Alsace and back (about a 5-hour round trip with a tasting in the middle, presumably). Jacques didn’t think much would come of Neal’s visit, but a few weeks later received an order from Neal to ship 2,000 bottles to the US! This was some order – later he regularly shipped 10,000 bottles per year.

And, for the record, Jacques and Neal share the same birthday and birth year, something they only discovered a few years into their working relationship – they’ve been friends ever since and celebrated their 70th together at Maison Jeunet in Arbois. These men are two wine legends.

More posts are to come about both big and small producers that I’ve revisited or tasted with recently, and in the meantime, I hope you are able to enjoy some Jura wines wherever you are. And tell your friends, the best place to purchase my book is still direct from my Wine Travel Media site for worldwide delivery, available in print or Epub digital form.

Categories: Jura culture, Producers | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Worldwide Wines Inspired by Jura

In the past year I’ve had the chance to try several Jura-inspired wines of the world. By this, I mean wines made with the Jura grapes Savagnin or Trousseau, grown outside France and/or wines inspired by Jura’s oxidative methods.

Traditionalists in the Jura wine region tend to become very worried by talk of any trend like this – there are even laws to stop other AOC wine regions in France using these grapes. The same attitude is held by the Savoie AOC authorities about that region’s indigenous varieties. For this outsider, at any rate, this viewpoint is ridiculous – not only do we all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it provides wonderful publicity for the original; drinkers who discover the newcomers often want to try the original.

In the Jura Wine book I wrote about these wines briefly in Appendix 3, telling the stories of the emergence of California Trousseau and Australian Savagnin. If you own the book, do take a look; and if you don’t, order the book direct from my site Wine Travel Media (quicker and usually cheaper than Amazon) – the book is still over 90% up to date despite being already three years old! Since the book was published, several other Trousseau and Savagnins have appeared on my radar, so below are some brief thoughts and comments.

Trousseau - Eyrie Vineyards labelTROUSSEAU
In what seems like a wonderfully low-key ‘first’, Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards (famous for its Pinot Noir, pioneered by Jason’s father David Lett in the 1960s) was the first in the Willamette Valley of Oregon to have released a Trousseau wine last year. Having tasted Jura Trousseau, Jason thought it might be ideal to plant the grape in the region and he’s not alone. A small group of Oregon wineries has followed suit planting Trousseau, including Analemma in the Columbia Gorge, whose worthy attempt I tasted from demijohn. Even amphora-specialists Beckham Estate of Willamette Valley are planting it… I see an Oregon-Trousseau trend emerging. At a tasting at Eyrie last August, Jason revealed his first release, the 2015 Eyrie Vineyards Trousseau and it was spot on – pale-coloured with a blueberry character, some earthy notes and good acid grip. He made it with no added sulphur.

On a brief trip to Porto last year, we visited the enjoyable wine bar PROVA a couple of Portuguese Bastardotimes and I purchased a bottle of Conceito Bastardo 2014 to take home. Sporting a delightfully original label, it was young so has lain in our cellar until a few weeks ago, when I opened it, yearning for a break from Savoie and Bugey wines, which I’m tasting at full-stretch in preparation for the next book, Wines of the French Alps.

If you weren’t aware, Portugal’s Bastardo is genetically identical to Jura’s Trousseau, even though several growers in the Jura emphatically deny it is possible. Although Portugal has over 1,000 hectares there are few wines from 100% Bastardo, as much is grown in old mixed vineyards in the Douro and used for blending, usually for Port. This varietal example is from the Conceito winery (the brand name means ‘concept’) based in the Douro Valley.  Wine Grapes has little good to say about unfortified varietal Trousseau, but this wine is a cracker, with light colour, a cherry-like nose, good acidity, balanced alcohol (13.5%) and lovely fruit. It was definitely less rustic and earthy than a Jura Trousseau, but a really enjoyable wine.

SAVAGNIN
Late last summer on a visit to the Haute Savoie vineyards just south of Lac Léman, I finally went to the biodynamically-run estate Les Vignes de Paradis, owned by Dominique Lucas, one of the up-and-coming Savoie stars. For me, the excitement lies in his range of Chasselas from the vineyards of Crépy, Marin and Marignin which he is making better than anyone in the region (more in the book to come). However, he has also planted a range of other varieties including Savagnin. Les Vignes de Paradis 2015 Savagnin IGP des Allobroges, which I tasted from that very hot vintage, had been made in concrete egg and weighed in at a hefty 14.5%, but it wore it well, with the wine showing surprising crispness and ripe lemon curd flavours. It had been open more than a week, yet was alive and kicking. An oddity, sporting a high price tag, it proved yet again what a magical grape this is.

Dominique Lucas

Dominique Lucas of Les Vignes du Paradis is ever the experimenter – the camera and hand belong to Mick Rock, photographer, shooting for the next book.

An enjoyable diversion at the Oregon stands at London’s Real Wine Fair, led me to taste Coury Old Vine Savagnin Rose from Jeff Vejr’s Golden Cluster winery. I’m including it here even though Savagnin Rose [no accent!] is not grown in the Jura as far as I know – surprisingly it is not the same as the Savagnin Muscaté grown by a few growers like Marnes Blanches (for its cuvée Savagnin Le Jensillard) in the Sud Revermont, but instead is the non-aromatic version of Gewurztraminer, known best in Alsace as Klevener de Heiligenstein. All are genetically identical, though. From a vineyard planted 50 years ago by a pioneering rare grape grower in Oregon, Charles Coury, honoured by Jeff Vejr in several of his fascinating wines, this Savagnin Rose was simply-speaking delicious – a triumph for this rare grape.

Garry Crittenden is a brilliantly persistent marketeer and one of those who did much to put Australian wine on the map in the UK especially 25 years ago. His son, Rollo is an excellent winemaker and Garry’s successor at Crittenden Estate in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular region – he is also a huge Jura wine fan. Thanks to both Garry and Rollo, I was able to taste their very first vintage of sous voile (oxidative, under-the-veil-of-yeast) Savagnin 2011, named Cri de Coeur before I published Jura Wine so I wrote about it in that appendix 3. And, they hosted Brett and I for an all-too-fast visit when I was in Melbourne in early 2015 when we were able to taste the 2013 while still in barrel. In May, clever Garry alerted me to the fact that Jancis Robinson MW had a spare sample bottle of the Crittenden Estate Cri de Coeur Savagnin 2013, so as I was briefly in London, off I went to retrieve it so that I could taste it, giving it to others blind at the end of a celebration tasting for the success of the Kickstarter campaign for Wines of the French Alps.

Crittenden Estate, Mornington, Australia

Rollo and Garry Crittenden. © Brett Jones.

This is a part of what I wrote to Garry afterwards: “I tasted this with a group of wine educators and keen wine consumers last night AFTER a whole series of Savoie and other French Alps wines and for many, after a long day of tastings! I gave it to them blind stating it had nothing to do with the French Alps. First reaction, especially on nosing it, from several, was – well, it must be Jura (of course, they were a little biased being in my house!), so I said no and they agreed it was oxidative but probably not Sherry. Then the palate surprised because it appears ‘sweeter’, but see below. Everyone was intrigued and most of them, impressed.

So, now I’ve re-tasted it – I had meant to open it early last night but it never happened, so Crittenden Cri de Coeur Savagninnow it’s been open 24 hours. For me it shows some walnuts and even classic spices, such as ginger and turmeric on the nose; on the palate, it is not as aggressive as some Jura oxidative Savagnin, showing almost sweetness, but it’s more of a textural creamy sweetness rather than sugar. The finish is very long and I see no reason for it not to age well for several years. A great success and much more Jura-like than the previous incarnation, but still shows the extra warmth of your location. Congrats to Rollo.”

Savagnin and Trousseau are right up there among the great grape varieties of the world, and while Jura shows the way, it’s such fun to explore their merits from elsewhere.

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Sorting the lady’s Trousseau

The grape name Trousseau usually brings a smile to the face of older people who actually remember the meaning of a lady’s trousseau – a ‘bottom drawer’ or ‘hope chest’ – now disappearing from common use in English. The red grape Trousseau found in Jura may have derived its name from the old French word troussé or trussed, meaning tied up like a chicken, which relates to the shape of the bunch, but as usual these meanings are lost in history.

Trousseau grapes

Old vine Trousseau à la Dame

Trousseau is one of the three main permitted red grapes in the Jura, and although increasing slowly, there are only about 150 hectares planted or less than 8% of the total Jura vineyard. The largest plantings are in the north of the region in the Arbois appellation, especially around Montigny-les-Arsures, though certain vineyard areas in the southern Côtes du Jura have been identified as suitable for plantings too. According to local geologist Michel Campy, Trousseau is a sensitive variety, needing good exposure and preferring clay-gravel soils with fragments of limestone and silica.

The new Wine Grapes book confirms Trousseau comes originally from the Jura region and has a biological parent-child relationship with the white Savagnin variety. It is the same as the Bastardo grape of Portugal (and also grown to a lesser extent in Spain) but no-one knows how it arrived in Iberia – there are over 1,200ha grown in Portugal.

Arbois Les Corvées vineyardTrousseau, the harvest
During a sunny afternoon spent  harvesting in the south-facing vineyard of Les Corvées above Arbois with Pascal Clairet of Domaine de la Tournelle, I learned that Trousseau à la Dame (lady’s Trousseau?) refers to an old selection of particularly loose bunches of Trousseau. We were picking earlier than Pascal might have liked as after the difficult 2012 summer weather, quantity was down (Trousseau is prone to coulure or bad flower set), and he wanted to save what he could before the onset of yet another bout of rain.

Actually, the bunches were in excellent condition and Pascal confirmed a potential of about 12% alcohol, though later this was to be tested by his wife Evelyne who was back at the vinification cellar in the village of St-Cyr-Montmalin a few kilometres way. The pickers brought the grapes down the steep vineyard slope, whose clay soils had already dried out from the previous day’s rain. They dragged the rectangular tubs on convenient metal contraptions and then the tubs were tipped onto a large square tray for manual de-stemming.

Manual de-stemming

Manual de-stemming the Trousseau ©Brett Jones

Also providing a final sorting opportunity, rejecting any rotten berries or leaves inadvertently picked, this wooden manual de-stemming tray was surprisingly efficient. The tray has regular holes drilled in it and sits on top of a large plastic tub that can take 300-400kg of grapes. Standing up on the tractor trailer, I was taught to rub my hands over the bunches, keeping them curved so as not to crush the grapes. It’s a much gentler process than the mechanical de-stemmers that producers have used for several decades, preserving the integrity of the grape. The glistening berries fall into the tub and the stems can be thrown overboard. The result is a tub full of berries that look almost like olives.

Trousseau grape berries

The berries after de-stemming; an occasional Chardonnay vine is mixed up in the vineyard, hence the white berries

Trousseau, the wine
The big tubs of Trousseau grapes were taken back to the winery and bucket by bucket thrown into the top of a fibre-glass tank. There are few fancy machines at Domaine de la Tournelle – my overriding impression was of an immaculately clean winery. It always takes a lot of water to make good wine, and most especially for anyone who – as this winery – uses minimal or no chemical intervention. No SO2 is used here whenever possible and only natural yeasts. The Trousseau will have a few light punch downs (usually with feet!) and then regular pumpovers before being pressed.

Pascal Clairet of Domaine de la Tournelle

Pascal Clairet ©Brett Jones

In looking forward to tasting Trousseau Les Corvées 2012, I have recently drunk the 2010 vintage, slightly cloudy, full of pure juicy red-black fruit with a light structure. I don’t think it’s for long ageing, but may well be proved wrong as so often with Jura reds.

Other good producers of Arbois Trousseau include Stéphane Tissot (Domaine A & M Tissot), Jacques Puffeney, Daniel Dugois (who has several cuvées including one specifically from Trousseau à la Dame, named Damelière), Fréderic Lornet (with the cuvée Trousseau Les Dames that I had previously thought to be a vineyard location), Michel Gahier and Lucien Aviet (Caveau de Bacchus). In Côtes du Jura, Domaine Ganevat, Benoit Badoz and Domaine Pignier can be recommended.

California Postscript
There is one other wine in the world that I know of labelled Trousseau and made in a Jura style and that is Arnot-Roberts Trousseau from California. Arnot-Roberts is a small winery based in Healdsburg, Sonoma County that buys in grapes and has a passion for French-style, restrained wines. They purchase their Trousseau grapes from a grower in Lake County who planted it as Bastardo for a port blend. I tried both 2010 and 2011 back in February this year (both not yet bottled) and was impressed by the delicacy, rusticity and overall Jura-style, despite the extra fruit intensity derived from California sunshine. It’s worth noting that Trousseau Gris is a colour variant that is not grown as far as I know in the Jura, but exists in California, sometimes called ‘Gray Riesling’.

The following video was shot by Cathy Ho, and shows Pierre Overnoy demonstrating and explaining (in French) the manual de-stemming method I tried to describe above, but with the Poulsard/Ploussard variety grown in Pupillin a few kilometres away.

Categories: Jura wine education | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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