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A Short Trip to the Land of Yellow Wines

Jura, September 2001

Vin Jaune - Clavelin Bottle

[ german - deutsch ]

On our yearly trip to Burgundy we made a sidetrip to Jura for one day. We visited the area around the small town of Städte Arbois and Poligny. Since Nikolai's first trip to Jura in 1999 on which he took many wines with him we count this wine region to the most thrilling and independent we got to know.

In our country the region of Jura is more or less unknown. In wine books it is listed for the sake of completion and very often you find howlers inside. In Jens Priewe's celebrated wine book Wine, the new great school (3rd edition, Munich 1998) for instance, it says the most known producer of Vin Jaune was Chateau Chalon with an own Appellation Controllé. A piece of information thatís likely to be rather confusing, because Chateau-Chalon is not the wine maker - though it sounds a bit like a wine producer of the Bordeaux - but the wine region from which you get the best yellow wine. Many local vinters have a Chateau-Chalon as a top product of their variety. Poulsard is also no grape for white wine, like it is stated in Priewe, but a bright red wine grape which is often used for making Rosé. Though the Jura region has not taken part in the common wine business and the increasing prices of the past years, Jura wines are not cheap. The wines are mostly consumed within the region and there they know that they are precious and that their yellow wine is something special.

Vin Jaune (Yellow Wine) costs in its typical Clavelin-Bottle (0.62 litre) each about between 30 and 50 Euro - though it isn't commercialised world wide like so many wines from several wine regions. In literature about wine you mostly find comparisons to Sherry - which are correct - but no additional alcohol is added to Jura wines. They are not blended and therefore very fine. Vin Jaune is produced from the Savagnin-grape - probably related to the Alsatian 'Gewürztraminer'. The wine remains six years in the barrel while never refilling it. In this way about one third evaporates. And on the surface of the wine a layer of yeast grows that prevents the wine from oxidation. Good Vin Jaune has a legendary recommendation concerning its preservation and should last more or less for a century.

Jura is a region which, thank God, has kept its independence. It produces significant Chardonnays that are equally preservable than those of Burgundy. And wines made from the grape 'Savagnin' one finds nowhere else. In Jura people are also proud of their typical red wine grapes 'Poulsard', 'Troussart' and 'Pinot Noir', but we were very fond of the white wines. In contrast to other regions here they are degusted in the end, because they simply seem to be superior to the reds.

Domaine de la Pinte

A good domain with a mighty Vin Jaune.

Arbois Pupillin Chardonnay 1999
Light yellow. In the nose and mouth fruity with aromas of nuts and tropical fruits. Good acidity.

Arbois Savagnin 1998
Yellow. Nuts. Light aromas of Sherry and lemon. Good acidity.

Chateau-Chalon 1993
Yellow. In the nose fruity and strong. Nuts and notes of Grappa. In the mouth nuts and apple. Long finish and long aftertaste. Still very young.

Vin Jaune Arbois 1986
Beautiful yellow. In the nose notes of varnish, smoke and Mate tea. In the mouth typical basic tones. Walnut aromas.

Domaine Rolet Père et Fils

This domain counts to the biggest in the whole of Jura and has a very modern appearance. Fine wines!

Arbois Chardonnay-Savagnin 1997
Light yellow colour. Apple, pepper and nuts. Good acidity, good fruit.

Cotes du Jura Chardonnay-Savagnin 1997
Similar colour, but not so bright. Citric tones, nuts, and mineral notes, mainly limestone. Long. Preservable for 15 to 20 years.

Arbois Vin Jaune 1994
Bright yellow. Very heavy and full. Walnut and Minerals. Very good acidity. Still very young. Is going to be excellent!

Jacques Tissot

Jacques Tissot counts to the most well known and respected domains within the Jura region. Like a lot of his colleagues one has its own store in Arbois. The beginning of the degustation was rather strange, because you were told that one only can degust wines if one is going to buy some. In this way we were really lucky that the wines are really excellent..

Jacques Tissot

Arbois Chardonnay 1997
Rather light colour. Mineral notes with flint-stone and capsicum. Fruity.

Arbois Blanc Typé Chardonnay-Savagnin 1995
Light yellow. Note of ground apple. Miner with good Acidity. Nuts and spices in the long finish. 15 to 20 preservable.

Arbois Savagnin 1995
Light yellow. Fragrance of flowers and honey. In the mouth not yet so open compared to the fragrance. Good aftertaste. Warm and long. Fine.

Vin Jaune d'Arbois 1990
Beautiful yellow. Straw, reminds one of Grappa and fresh plums. In the mouth nuts are dominating. Full and long lasting. Fantastic wine.

Henry Maire

Henry Maire is the far biggest producer within the region who has done a lot for the image of the Jura wines. When Nikolai degusted here two years ago he could take his time while having an guided good overlook over their Jura wine production. The quality wines were more expensive compared to those of other wine makers, but there were really fine ones amongst them. The best Vin de Pilles Nikolai has tasted here, so far. This time the big store in the centre of Arbois was crowded with piles of tourists and in our opinion the degustation was only a good occasion to encourage people buying wine while offering gallons of simple wine. For degustation white wine wasn't offered to us at all, because - we were told - it was too expensive. Because Nikolai's enthusiasm for Jua wine began with a degustation at Henry Mair's tow years ago - he accidentally met Jean-Pierre Pidoux the author of the wine book ' Découvrir les vins du Jura' which Nikolai had with him and let it signed by him - our visit was even more disappointing. The wine they gave us for degustation we won't describe here, because it is not suitable for representing the large variety of Maire.

Xavier Reverchon

A vinter whose house is situated on the edge of Puligny, the capitol of the Comte. Xavier Reverchon has harvested before noon and we were very lucky to meet him. On that afternoon it was rainy and the harvest workers sat at a long table having a little snack. 2001 was not a very successful year for the Jura, but Xavier Reverchon nevertheless was optimistic and took his time for our degustation.
Nikolai already degusted his wines two years ago and the return was worth while. Here we degusted our best Savigni of our small Jura-trip.

Xavier Reverchon

reds:

Trousseau Les Boutasses 2000
A light, but subtle and fruity red wine.

Pinot Les Freins 2000
More tannin. Some oak and good acidity. Harmonic.

whites:

Chardonnay 1999
Pears are dominating the aroma. Soft acidity. Pleasant Chardonnay.

Chardonnay Les Trouillots 1999
Flowers and aniseed. Mineral. Slight tones of egg.

Chardonnay-Savagnin Villes Vignes Les Boutasses 1998
Flowers, varnish and nuts. Very complex, very fine!

Savagnin Les Freins 1996
Every year Reverchon has some barrels which were for the Vine Jaune, but in which no yeast has developed. He doesn't know why. The wine of those particular barrels he used to use for the Chardonnay-Savagnin Cuvée. From his 1996 barrels for the first time he made a wine of its own. A Vin Jauen that is no Vine Jaune, but also no Savignin, is something very special. Reverchon likes it - so do we. But he says that many customers didn't like it at all. He has so far no experience how the wine is going to develop. But its structure and acidity will predict a long life. A very complex nose with notes reminding of game. Basic notes, fine fruit, some wood and a very good acidity. A impressing indescribable wine.

Vin Jaune Les Trouillots 1994
Yellow. Very intense, very classical Vin Jaune with a very good acidity. Still very young, but already irresistible.

Nikolai Vogel & Kilian Fitzpatrick

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