Posts Tagged With: Vignerons Indépendants

The tasting order for Jura wines – indie producers Part 2

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.

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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.

Domaine Baud

Alain Baud, in his element explaining his wines ©Brett Jones

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.

Welcoming tasting room in Passenans ©Wink Lorch

Tasting room in Passenans ©Wink Lorch

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.

Categories: Events and Tastings, Producers | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tasting with Jura’s indie producer group Part 1

The Vignerons Indépendants group includes 24 producers from the Jura and half of these were presenting wines at their big tasting in Lille last November. This was a chance for me to catch up with producers that I haven’t visited or tasted with for a while.

This independent winegrowers’ group in France comprises producers who grow and harvest their own grapes, and who make, bottle and sell their own wine, so no négociants or cooperatives. Apart from this, the criteria for joining the group is that these growers should respect local traditions, the terroir and the environment but there are no particular standards for how to do this. Most importantly to me, these indie growers agree to welcome visitors and should enjoy presenting their wines for tasting both at their cellars and at the regular fairs held around the big cities of France.

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Advice for tasting – taste wines starting with the lighter ones then the more powerful – I tried.

It’s not easy tasting when you are jostled for space and time is short, but it was nevertheless a useful opportunity to gain an overall impression of the seven producers I managed to see. Here’s a run-down of the four Arbois producers.

Estates in and around Arbois
At the stand of Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot I was welcomed by Valérie, daughter of Jean-Louis (brother of André and Jacques – yes there are three Tissot domaines in Arbois!). Today she runs the 15-hectare estate just outside Arbois with her brother Jean-Christophe. The wines were solid rather than exciting, though I particularly enjoyed their delightful Trousseau 2009 and an earthy Crémant showed promise too.

Domaine Ligier Arbois

Stéphane and Jean-Pierre Ligier with their wines at Lille. ©Brett Jones

Domaine Ligier is an Arbois estate I discovered at the very first Vignerons Indépendant fair that I attended when trying to discover new Jura estates way back in 2002. Run by brothers Hervé and Stéphane, I had the chance to chat with Stéphane who is usually in the vineyards. He explained that they now have 9.5 hectares of vines though quite a high proportion of young vines due to their sensible policy of leaving a 2-3 year gap between grubbing up old vines and re-planting. These days he manages the vineyards using lutte raisonnée (where herbicides, fungicides and pesticides are kept to a minimum) with herbicide only used under-vine and he plans to buy a machine to avoid this in future. I’ve always enjoyed Ligier’s wines and I wasn’t disappointed this time, with a good standard across the whole range. My highlights here were their Chardonnays, especially the oak fermented Vieilles Vignes 2011 from vines of an average 70 years old and deliciously good value Crémants, both white and rosé.

The largest family-run estate in the Jura Domaine Rolet  has around 65 hectares in Arbois and in Côtes du Jura (and even in Etoile), and is currently – rather quietly – up for sale (anyone?) because the brothers Guy, Bernard and Pierre with their sister Eliane, who have run the estate for many years, have no successors interested in taking it on. I know their wines well and had time only to taste the reds and their Crémants with as ever the latter being the stars from this estate. The basic Rolet Brut with 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot and Poulsard has four years of ageing before disgorging (vintage is not labelled but this was the 2007) and it tasted very elegant; the top of the range classy Coeur de Chardonnay (€12 direct) was creamy and very long.

Jura Vin Jaune bottlesPierre Rolet was instrumental in getting the appellation Crémant du Jura approved back in the 1990s and I intend to interview him to find out more. We also had a chat about the ongoing issue of the clavelin-size bottle not being approved in the USA. He showed me a 37.5cl half bottle of Vin Jaune made in the clavelin shape, pictured left  – a size not approved of within appellation rules but allowed to be sold in the US – Stéphane Tissot is another producer I know that uses this size for exports.

Based in the village of Pupillin the 25-hectare Domaine Désiré Petit has seen some changes since I last tasted with them, notably with brother and sister Damien and Anne-Laure taking on the day-to-day management from their uncle Gérard who has been at the helm for some time. Damien has already introduced 600-litre demi-muids barrels into the oak programme. Vinified in these demi-muids, his Savagnin Ouillé named L’Essen’ciel 2011 had a lovely nose and showed promise, though other wines that I tasted lacked balance. I did enjoy the 2011 Pinot Noir aged in 4-year-old fûts (standard 228-litre barrels). Unfortunately I ran out of time and never returned to taste their Vin de Paille, a style at which they always excel. This is still an estate to watch, I think and I will make an effort to taste again with them soon.

Other members of the Jura Vignerons Indépendants group in the Arbois appellation include the estates Jacques Tissot, Stéphane (A&M) Tissot, La Pinte, Martin-Faudot, Cybelline and Daniel Dugois. I will post some notes on the wines tasted from winegrowers in the Côtes du Jura next week.

Categories: Events and Tastings, Producers | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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