The Wines of Jura

The first ever Toronto Wines of Jura tasting was hosted April 12th by Sommelier Evan Saviolidis in association with Good Food Revolution at the Spoke Club.  It was an amazing opportunity to taste some rare and unusual wines.  Jura is a small wine region in the north east of France between Burgundy and Switzerland.  There are just 2000 ha planted with vines.

The afternoon began with a seminar lead by Evan on the wine styles and grape varieties of Jura as well as some comments on the history and traditions of the area.  A flight of five wines were provided to taste.   The flight began with the rose and red wines of the area made from the Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir grape varieties.  Generally the reds were rustic, exhibiting aromas of red berries and slight herbal notes.  On the palate they were extremely acidic and tannic.  Better off served with food.  The two final wines were white made from Chardonnay and Savagnin.  Even though Chardonnay is the most planted white grape at 43%, it is Savagnin that the wine region is known for.  Savagnin produces famous white wine called Vin Jaune.  Vin Jaune is distinctive because it is vinified in an unusual way giving the wine pungent, apparent aromas.   To make Vin Jaune, late harvest grapes are fermented to dry.  The wine is left to mature in 228L barrels for six years.  Over that time the barrel is not topped off, therefor the wine becomes exposed to oxygen as the wine evaporates and flor (a film yeast) forms a veil over the wine.  It is the oxygen and flor that give the wine it’s heady apparent aromas of brine and nuts.  After six years of maturation the wine is bottled in a special bottle called a “Clavelin”.  The stout bottle holds 62cl.  The smaller volume bottles are used because there is less wine in the barrel at the end of the process.  Vin Jaune can cellar a long time, up to 100 years.  It is recommended not to drink the wine before ten years of bottle ageing.

The glass head of the barrel allows a view of the flor development on a cask of Vin Jaune.

After the brief introduction seminar the attendees were asked to relocate to the roof top patio, while the room was being reset for the trade tasting.  The weather on April 13th was one of the first magnificent spring days.  It was an absolute pleasure to sit out side in the sunshine sipping Crémant du Jura for an hour or so.  Crémant du Jura makes up 20% of the wine production and can be made in a white or rose style.  The wines were crisp and dry.

Returning to the trade tasting, the small room was filled with sommeliers and writers curious to try these rare wines.  The vignerons from the respective Domaines had traveled from Jura to pour their wines at the tasting.  The room was a bit too crowded to take proper notes or taste everything.  I chose to taste just the white wines.  Here are some of my favourites:

2009 Naturé, Domaine Jacques Tissot, Arbois 
This wine is made from Savagnin.  But unlike the oxidized styles, this wine was made in stainless steel tanks and protected from oxygenation. The wine tasted very pure with a definite mineral note.  Probably the most stand out wine I tasted.

NV Crémant du Jura, Domaine André et Mireille Tissot
This wine blew me away.  As soon as I put the glass to my nose the intensity and purity of the wine really came through.  I soon learnt after that Domaine André et Mireille Tissot is a biodynamic property.  That explained the amazing volume the wine had that can only be found in biodynamic wines.  The crémant is fermented with a selection of yeast from Champagne, giving the wine elegance and those seductive brioche aromas.  Stéphane Tissot was pouring his wines.  He also makes a crémant indigéne made with indigenous yeasts.  This wine had an earthier more rustic profile.

Domaine Labet
This domaine had an interesting selection of Chardonnays, each distinctive with notes of minerals, floral notes and butterscotch.

2004 Vin de Paille, Domaine de Savagny, Côtes du Jura
This is a dessert wine.  The grapes are harvested and the clusters are left to dry on a bed of paille (straw) to concentrate the sugars.  This wine was amber in colour with very concentrated aromas of ice tea and peaches.   Medium sweetness on the palate.  It would be a great accompaniment to foie gras.

It is impossible to find any of these wines in the LCBO.  They may become available on restaurant wine lists soon.  Case orders can be made through selective wine agencies.

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About allisonvidug

Allison has been professionally passionate about wine and food for eight years. In that short time, Allison has traveled across Canada to work at some of the finest establishments focussed on premium wine, food and service. Her travels and education has allowed Allison the pleasure to live in some of Canada’s most beautiful locations such as the Okanagan Valley, Niagara Peninsula, the Southern Gulf Islands, Toronto, Lake Louise and Muskoka. Some of Allison's favourite things include; wine, gin, whisky, cheese, mushrooms, cooking, hosting, growing vegetables, cottaging and dogs. Allison has seriously invested in her education of food and drink. She is a graduate of the Food and Beverage Management Diploma Program at George Brown College. She also holds a Diploma in Viticulture and Winery Management from Niagara College. Allison has fine tuned her wine and spirit sensory skills by completing certificates with the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Allison is currently completing here WSET Diploma, one of the highest levels of wine education.
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