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The delicious complexity of Jura wines

The delicious complexity of Jura wines
Do you know the wines of the Jura? Maybe not, it's a small appellation, 2000 hectares, with a production of wines that are both very atypical and very typical, even unique for some of them.

Let me tell you a few words about it.
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Last modified on: May 14th 2022

Keywords for this post:WinesJuraWhiteSavagninVineyardYellow wineTypicity
The delicious complexity of Jura wines

Where are they?

carte vignoble jura vignoble du jura

As their name indicates, they all come exclusively from Franche-Comté, from the department of Jura, along a strip 80 for about 6 km on the slopes that lead from the plain to the Jura plateau.
The best known "capital" is the small town of Arbois, which is often referred to as the "wine of Arbois".
The majority of the wines are made from grape varieties that can only be found in this vineyard with little known names such as trousseau, poulsard or savagnin.

Which wines?

gamme des vins du jura

The vineyard produces a little bit all the colors and all the kinds of wines, classic red, white and sparkling wines, as well as 2 delicious products : the straw wine and the macvin which I will speak to you about another time.
But it is mainly white wines, and in particular a kind of "flagship" wine which is the yellow wine, unique and very very atypical.

The savagnin

raisins du cépage savagnin

The great grape variety of the Jura is the savagnin, it is a white grape which is used only to make the wines called "Cotes du Jura" (with or without a Chardonnay part), and especially the famous yellow wine.

It's a quite amazing thing that the yellow wine: we harvest the savagnin only, we vinify, we put in wooden barrels and we wait 6 years that the wine matures, oxidizes and reduces, the famous part of the angels (by the way, they live well the angels with all that they recover :-).

bouteille clavelin

In the end we get a bottle with a particular shape, the clavelin, and a special capacity of 62 cl (vs 75 for the others), which is a wine of great ageing, some bottles of collection have several centuries.
No secret, it is very expensive as a wine, but it is the recognition of a real work of wine making, with a not negligible loss by evaporation.

On the other hand, you don't necessarily need to buy a vin jaune to discover the taste of savagnin, a coteaux du jura is an excellent start, at a very reasonable price.

And the taste?

This is where we come to the complexity of these wines, their amber color goes hand in hand with a unique taste, very dry, with very pronounced aromas of nuts.
Tastes that can be (very) disturbing, especially the first time, where we often have two camps in reaction: "What the hell is this thing?" (or "This is not wine!") and on the other hand "Wow, this is incredible!
A wine merchant friend of mine told me that there are no half measures with savagnin, either you love it or you hate it.
But it is the same with all atypical wines, if you are not warned and you expect a classic white wine, like chardonnay, it can be confusing, but you have to try to go a bit beyond the first nose and the first sip...

And in cooking?

poulet au vin jaune

As much as the tasting of a wine from the Jura (yellow or Côtes du Jura) can be surprising the first time, in cooking its presence in a sauce is a contribution that goes alone and brings a lot.
You may have heard the saying "great wine, great dish", it is also true here, of course the famous "Poularde au vin jaune flanquées de morilles" is one of the emblematic dishes of Comtoise cuisine, but in general Savagnin goes very well with creamy dishes, white meats or fish. Another frequent agreement on the great tables, it is the white asparagus and the yellow wine, and well on the perfect agreement in my opinion: yellow wine, some walnuts, a sourdough bread and Comté cheese (of 18 months minimum if possible).

The celebrity

The relative confidentiality of Jura wines does not prevent them from being showcased in beautiful ways, here are some examples:

- The yellow wine "Chateau-Chalon" (named after a small village that has its own AOC) is considered one of the 5 greatest white wines in the world, no less.
- The same yellow wine discovered by Napoleon III during a meal offered by Metternich had dazzled him, convinced that it was an Austrian wine he congratulated (it is said) Metternich, but the prince explained to him that it came in fact from France.
- Arbois wine has been sung by Jacques Brel (Le dernier repas) and Boris Vian, among others.

I hope that these few lines, of course a rather short description, will make you want to taste it, either in a glass or in a recipe.

To sum up: If you don't know Jura wines yet, try one of these days to open a bottle of white Coteaux du Jura in Savagnin grape variety, maybe it will be the beginning of a discovery...

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