Introduction to the Wines of the Jura
The Jura is a wine region in France. It is a somewhat idosyncratic and, until recently, partly forgotten region. Its newfound popularity lies in its nature as a cross between Burgundy and Sherry. Part of the attraction is the wide range of wines that are made, and their relatively inexpensive prices.
Where is it?
In Eastern France, on the other side of the Saone river from Burgundy and less than 100km from the Swiss border. There are about 1,900 hectares of vines planted in the foothills of the Jura mountains, in a cool continental climate.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Much like Burgundy, and in cool climate regions all over the world, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir make a large proportion of plantings. The Pinot Noir is often used in blends to make Rosé or sparkling. The varietal wines made from Chardonnay can be rich and delicious, rivalling wines from the Cote de Beaune.
This grape is not very well known, but is an ancient variety and actually has significant plantings in the Mornington Peninsula. Savagnin is a green-skinned white grape that produces a full bodied, flavoursome varietal wine but is more often made into the unique Vine Jaune described below.
Trousseau and Poulsard
Two lesser known red grapes that are used to made light red wines, Rosé styles, sparkling and sweet varieties. Both grapes suit a low-addition, low-intervention winemaking style that has helped bring Jura’s popularity into line with the modern natural wine movement.
Vin Jaune is made from riper Savagnin grapes, undergoing extensive ageing up to more than 6 years from harvest. The ageing is aided by a protective veil formed by the yeast, similar to how sherry is made. These unique and spicy wines pair really well with a range of savoury dishes, but especially the local comté cheese and poulet au vin jaune.
Vin de paille (‘straw wine’ from the original drying method) is wine made from dried early-picked grapes. They are richly flavoured and sweet but the raisined grapes produce so little final wine that they are necessarily small in production and usually only seen in half bottles. Macvin is a sweet and earthy vin de liqueur made by adding Marc de jura (grape spirit) to (mostly) unfermented grape juice, retaining all the sugars, not too dissimilar from other vin doux naturel.
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