Jura Region – Introduction
The Jura is the wine region that is wedged between Burgundy to the west and Switzerland to the east. It is famous for the oxidative white wines and the light, ethereal red wines.
Fifteen years ago when we first visited the Jura with little knowledge of the region except for their wonderful Vin Jaune wine and their exceptional oxidative whites, little did we know how much it would effect our future and how we would return time after time after time to this fascinating region to hunt out exciting wines and to enjoy the wonderful cheese produced there.
Let’s start with the wines. The Jura region is literally only an hour away from the centre of Burgundy by car, yet the wines are significantly different both in the grape varieties and the wine styles.
One of the most interesting differences that we noticed on our first visit (which was to the Bornard family) was that it is common practice in the Jura at a wine tasting to serve the red wines first, followed by the white wines and then the more oxidative wines such as their Vin Jaune.
Why do they serve the red wines first? Well, the answer is pretty simple. There are three approved red grape varieties in the Jura namely Ploussard (Poulsard), Trousseau and Pinot Noir all produce quite light wines, especially the ones made from Ploussard.
A Ploussard vine – notice the 5 pronounced segments to the leaf.
The best Ploussard grapes are harvested from behind the village of Pupillin where the steep slopes and the complex soils made from various marls and limestone are ideal for this grape variety.
As you approach Pupillin you see a large sign at the top of a hill – this is where the vineyards are found. In fact the vines immediately behind are some of Tony Bornard’s vines and just down the hill from the sign and to the right as you go away from the front of the sign you find one of Renaud Bruyere and Adeline Houillon’s plots.
The best Trousseau is found near the village of Montigny-lès-Arsures, where Michel Gahier makes his thrilling reds and whites from grapes picked from plots quite near to the village.
The white wines are made from two officially recognised grape varieties namely Chardonnay and Savagnin and one variety prized by some locals and ignored by others, named Melon à Queue Rouge. The official organisations in France don’t recognise this variety as they hold that it is Chardonnay. However, the red stalks and the red veins in the leaves are different and suggest that Chardonnay has mutated here somewhat due to the soil differences compared with Burgundy.
For the white wines, however, Savagnin is king, producing amazing oxidative wines with amazing length and depth of flavour. In particular, their Vin Jaune wines must be matured in wooden barrels without being topped up for a minimum of six years and three months. They must also be bottled in 620ml bottles of a particular shape known as a clavelin if they are to qualify to display the precious name. You can read more about this wonderful and rare wine here or in the book mentioned on that site.
We have some wonderful producers from this highly sought-after region: