Posts Tagged With: Wine Scholar Guild

Special Offer: Celebrating the 3rd Printing of the Jura Wine Book

To all who love Jura wine, I wish you a Happy New Year. The big news from me is that more stock of the Jura Wine book is now available after I pushed the button for a third printing.

Three thousand copies sold to people based in over 50 countries makes me proud and I’m only sorry that I can’t find the time to create a new edition. Yet, this award-winning book is still 95% up-to-date and there’s no more comprehensive guide to the Jura wine region in existence, even in French.

To celebrate the third printing, from today, 3rd January to 3rd March 2018, I’m offering an unprecedented one-third (33%) discount from the regular price for orders placed directly on my Wine Travel Media site, shipping at the usual rates. At checkout use the code 3RDP33 valid to March 3rd, 2018. If you want to sell the book in your wine or book store, then contact me for an even better price for a minimum of five copies. Single books are sent via airmail worldwide; wholesale orders are despatched using a 2-5 day courier service.

A Special Educational Tour
In mid-October last year under difficult personal circumstances I felt privileged to lead a select group of wine lovers and students on an exceptional, educational Jura wine tour organised with Wine Scholar Guild. Participants travelled from the US, Sweden and Hong Kong for this opportunity and they were not only wonderful, supportive company, but also eager to experience and learn about this fabulous and special region.

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Revelling in the autumn colours in Montigny-les-Arsures with François Duvivier (far left) of Domaine du Pélican ©Wink Lorch

The Jura experienced a very challenging 2017 season, with debilitating spring frosts in many areas and a hot, overly dry summer. Harvest arrived early in fabulous weather, but it delivered an average 50% crop level, with this figure varying from 10% – 90% across the region. The good news is that the grapes were picked in tip-top condition. The excitement was well over by the time of our visit, but I was still hugely grateful to the time-poor vignerons, with so little to sell, for receiving and welcoming our group.

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Each Chardonnay has its own rock, but Stéphane Tissot’s Patchwork mixes them up. ©Wink Lorch

Each visit/day offered a different educational experience. On day one we focussed on biodynamics in the Arbois AOC. At the impressive Domaine de la Pinte, oenologist Emmanuelle fielded questions on all things Jura and biodynamics, typical of a first visit. Lunch was at Brasserie Aux Docks in Arbois with a sublime mushroom risotto and the best pigeon dish I have ever eaten. To wash down our first meal together we continued the theme with a juicy Poulsard/Pinot blend from Domaine de St-Pierre and a spot-on Trousseau from Domaine Ratte. Then, in Montigny-les-Arsures we toured the cellars and tasted terroir Chardonnay with the ebullient Stéphane Tissot; and moved on to sample newly bottled vintages with François Duvivier of Domaine du Pélican.

Day two was the traditional day when we started with a visit to learn about Comté making at the Fruitière in Plasne before heading across the premier plateau to Château-Chalon. There we explored and tasted in the cellars of Domaine Berthet-Bondet and had a quick walk to view the splendid vineyard panoramas from the hilltop village. The ever reliable Petit Victorien in Voiteur was our lunch stop when we drank a superb Domaine Mossu Savagnin with a choice of trout or chicken in Vin Jaune. Comte Alain de Laguiche laid on a special comparative tasting of different vintages of Château d’Arlay’s wines and pointed us to a photo stop in their newly converted organic vintages below the old Arlay fort. As ever, Nicole Dériaux of Domaine de Montbourgeau in l’Etoile could not have been more welcoming, encouraging our amenable bus driver (thanks Stéphane of Arbois Tourisme) to take us to the vineyards, where her son was engaged in the sad task of removing vines, killed by the horrible and ubiquitous esca disease. Her impeccable range of wines was much appreciated.

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The sad job of pulling up dead vines, affected by esca in the vineyards of Domaine de Montbourgeau in L’Etoile. ©Wink Lorch

For day three, we took the hour-long drive from the north to the south of the Jura wine region, starting with a comprehensive visit to Géraud Fromont at the dynamic Domaine des Marnes Blanches in the Sud Revermont. We viewed his vineyards, the purpose-built winery and the tasting room of course, learning plenty on the way. A casual lunch with decent food and pleasant service at the Hotel Golf Val de Sorne proved that there are still both ordinary and downright poor Jura wines to be found if you aren’t careful, but on an educational trip like this, how can you truly appreciate the good without the bad?

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Just add fresh grapes and off goes the fermentation again – at Domaine Pignier. ©Wink Lorch

After lunch we met the ever-bubbly Jean-Etienne at consistently the most underrated Jura family estate, Domaine Pignier. We started the visit with their modern (!)  vinification cellars, dating from the 17th century, discussing their latest experiments with amohorae and concrete eggs as well as a newly revived ancient method to help problems with natural fermentations. If the fermentation gets stuck, just chuck in a bucket of fresh grapes (that are deliberately picked late and still have active yeasts on their skins), see photo, left. We ventured down into their extraordinary 12th century Carthusian cellars before a tasting of part of their pristine range. Our final visit was a zippy tasting with Clémentine Baud, who with her brother, Bastien form the impressive new generation at Domaine Baud Génération 9. This estate has always provided an educational welcome.

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Le Grapiot in Pupillin has an excellent list of the village wines. ©Wink Lorch

We were back in and around Arbois for our final day starting with a tour and tasting at the Arbois Fruitière wine co-operative, one of the region’s largest producers, offering great consistency of quality, especially of Vin Jaune and their huge Vin Jaune cellar is an eye-opener. Then we drove up to the Ploussard capital of the world, the village of Pupillin. First we experienced an ultra-casual, fun tasting with Phillipe Bornard and then it was our last meal, lunch at surely the best value restaurant in the region, Le Grapiot. To match a beautifully created simple meal, a Chardonnay from Domaine de la Renardière and a Ploussard from Maison Overnoy were the treats. Our final visit was to the ever-philosophical Frédéric Lornet, tasting young and old wines of several styles and discussing oak barrels, as he was born into a cooperage (barrel-making) business. There is so much education and fun to be found in the Jura.

Classy Chicken Supper
This account would be incomplete if I did not mention the outstanding professionalism and kindness we received from the Baert family and their staff at our sumptuous hotel, Château de Germigney. We never had enough time to fully enjoy the lovely breakfasts in the orangerie, but made use of their other beautifully-furnished rooms for aperitifs and after-dinner coffee/tea and revelled in two splendid dinners with wines that I chose from their massive wine list, currently managed by sommelier Sébastien Bulle.

Apart from the incredible cheese trolley, the real highlight of the two meals at Germigney was the Volaille de Bresse au Vin Jaune en deux services – a highly original take on chicken in Vin Jaune, with half a chicken (they are small) for each of us, prepared in two different ways. I chose four contrasting Savagnins to run through this meal, starting with the tangy 2015 Foudre à Canon Domaine de la Borde, then the sublime 2008 Domaine de la Tournelle R (an aged topped-up Savagnin), the very traditional 2010 Domaine Salvadori and finally 2009 Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune. As they say, we were spoilt.

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The Wine Scholar Guild group on the freshly ploughed vineyards of Château d’Arlay ©Wink Lorch

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

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

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