Learning that the French Alpine Skiing team had their final training for the Sochi Olympics in Monts Jura (Lélex-Crozet), it seemed like a great time to provide an update on the Jura wine region. France’s eastern Jura region boasts a surface vineyard at 4500 acres with its Arbois heartland topping 2000, 40% of which are planted to white varieties in the rolling hills SxSW of the quaint town. 70% of soils here are clay, making them more suitable for the ultra-low tannin Poulsard rather than Burgundy’s Pinot noir, a 50-year transplant PN though the presence of Chardonnay, far better-suited to the region, dates two centuries. The quality leader is without doubt Savagnin, the same grape as Italy’s non-aromatic Traminer. In Jura it’s typically fermented without ML, coming both in yellow (jaune) and green (vert) though mention of it isn’t made on labels or promotional literature. Vin jaune typically undergoes 30% evaporation while in barrel while being protected by the yeast sacchromyces oviformis which imparts a grey/black hue to the veil. ‘Ouillé’ refers to any non-oxidative wine while those labeled ‘naturé’ are topped up to retain the primary fruit characteristics. An unfortunate second in Jura’s red grape race is Trousseau, Portugal’s ‘Bastardo’, possibly brought here when the Spanish ruled the area, yet much loved by Jura growers for its ability to–as opposed to the native Poulsard–make a real red wine. Overarching regional styles tends towards a purity of light fruit and minerality made without mucking up by excessive oak or human intervention. A preponderance of Chardonnay/Savagnin blends in the region aren’t the desired ’1+1=3′ I look for in blends but rather ’1+1=1+1′, making me wonder ‘why?’ In 2003 Jura exported 2% of its production, climbing to 10% in 2012.
Domaines to look out for include those of André et Mireille Tissot, de la Pinte, Jean-Francois Ganevat, Pierre Overnoy, Les Chais du Vieux Bourg, and Frédéric Lornet.
For the most up-to-date English language information on Jura wines look to Wink Lorch’s http://jurawine.co.uk/
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