Tag Archives: Jura

Wine for Winter (Tops for Me) 

 

NV Domaine André et Mireille Tissot Crémant du Jura “BBF”, Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot (Jura)

BBF = Blanc de Blanc élevé en Fût! From  Crémant du Jura, extra-brut and super fine. Élevage in barrel for a year, then second fermentation in bottle, racked for 52 months. Delicate bubbles with some weighty flavors from the Chardonnay but still funky fresh. Biodynamic.


imageParaschos ‘Ponka’ Bianco Venezia Giulia IGT, 2014 (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Picolit, Verduzzo, grown in San Floriano which is on the border of Italy and Slovenia, so plots are on either side. Ferments in open top clay amphorae without controlled temperature, then transferred to Slavonian oak botte to mature on the lees for 2 years. Biodynamic.

imageI Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso “Clivi Brazan”, Brazzano di Cormons, 2001 (Collio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

Friulano and 15% Malvasia from 80 year old vines. The wine is aged 140 months (more than a decade!)  in stainless steel tanks. I let it hang out in the glass and it kept opening up the longer it was out. Over a couple days, with each session’s glass getting closer to room temperature, it really has a quietly expressive, intimate character. You might say the same for its maker, Ferdinando.



IMG_1234Chateau Musar Cuvée Blanc, Bekaa Valley, 2001 (Lebanon)

!!!Obaideh & Merwah (those are grapes, heard they’re related to Chardonnay & Semillon). High altitude plots,  sunny year round, chalky soil and low yields. Fermented separately for 9 months in French oak, then blended after first year. Released after another 6 years. Not for the faint hearted. Needs a passionate mood and a big, fat burgundy glass to rest in before consumption.

  Domaine Labet “La Reine”, Côtes du Jura 2013

Gamay is still happy even when it’s not from Beaujolais. If you’re affected by Fleurie like me, you’ll like this. “The Queen” is tasty- elegant but not without corners, a little floral. I like Labet.

Soignée 

 

 Axel Prüfer “Avanti Popolo”, Le Temps des Cerises Vin de Table, 2014 (Languedoc-Roussillon)

A young & quiet East German committed to non-interference wine production makes a political statement with Carignan. I love when this grape gets to shine on its own and is handled by someone who understands its character. Avanti Popolo (Italian for Forward, People!) is an alternate way to describe the Bandiera Rossa (red flag), a song and symbol of the socialist/communist movement used during the Italian Labour Movement, first written by Carlo Tuzzi in 1908 and used while fighting against Mussolini. “The Time of Cherries”, the wine’s name, reflects not only the Carignan grape, but of the symbolism of the socialist flag. Biodynamic. Pronounced acidity.

 

Domaine Sebastien “L’Hurluberlu”, David Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil, 2013 (Loire, France)

Referencing the 1959 French theatrical play, “L’Hurluberlu ou le Reactionnaire amoureux” by Jean Anouilh, the “Extravagant” is actually unlike its namesake, especially for a Cab Franc: it’s pretty lean, mainly due to its Beaujolais-style production (carbonic maceration), super quick élevage, and young vines. It’s unfiltered (check out that sediment!) biodynamic table wine from Bourgeuil. It is tasty in an Exploration to Mars kind of way and curiously balanced, so maybe the reference actually lies in the playwright’s review of his own production:

“Wanting to reform the world, a General realizes that he can not even keep order in his own family.”

 

 



  Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo, 2013

Not many things are certain in life but this I can say for sure: I will always drink Nebbiolo. Even or especially if it’s some big Barolo or Barbaresco producer’s table wine that ended up on the shipment across the ocean. This one is no exception, in fact it is my current standard. It’s the balance of fruit, acidity and tannin that has such a rustic grace…I just really get down. A group of wine growers that form the cooperative Produttori del Barbaresco have blessed us with young vine Nebbiolo unfit for the life of Barbaresco and ideal for me. Hooray!

 

  Oddero “Rocche di Castiglione” Barolo, 2001

Single Cru Nebbiolo harvested from a cliff side vineyard, Rocche di Castiglione, on the edge of the Oddero estate. It’s taken me a while to get to a place where I can appreciate and/or afford something like this, so it’s not so much the light, jovial drinking party as this is a study in mastery, nuance, and progressive structural evolution in a glass. But being here is great. It’s like any other mood; in this wine I have found something to help me focus and become one with the Force.

#TheForceAwakens (but will it be good?)

 



 Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2008

Amarone? That super rich, heavy, port stuff? Not even close. Blind taste this and you’re somewhere between a Barolo and a Northern Rhône. So much warm spice and cocoa nib raspberry liquorice, it reads more like coffee…so nimble and elegantly vigorous, how it’s possible I do not know. A wine with this kind of complexion isn’t an everyday, but when I feel fussy about something sweet  (I get confused why I don’t like dessert the way I did as a kid) or crave something intense to wrap around my tastebuds, now I know where to go.

 

Chateau Chalon “Voile N•12” François Rousset-Martin, Nevy-sur-Seille, 2000

One of the most incredible wines ever, the “N•12” special cuvée from Chateau Chalon was absolutely mind blowing. Bottled in 2000, the cork had a funny cap pinned on it but I could see the color was the deepest yellow even through the green glass. The bottle itself is called a “clavelin”, and is a particular weight, shape and volume that dates back to 1506 under the law of Marguerite de Bourgogne.

Clearly this was a wine that would be challenging so I was careful to try it at varying temperatures (started chilled and let it warm in the bottle over a course of hours). Maybe challenging isn’t the right word, I mean that it deserved respect and focus, otherwise the many layers of flavor and texture might go unappreciated. Maybe it was because I was looking at Pierre Bonard paintings, but I felt the similarity: instant gratification from lush, vibrant colors that with pause open into permeating depth and subtle movement.

The colors reverberate at different intensities, the layers stringing together a whole bunch of sounds. It was like that with this wine: epic, erotic, historic. Almonds and honey, second cutting hay and some kind of incense, maybe turmeric, chamomile and genet. Finesse, but dank.


It turns out this bottle was from a special harvest from grower François Rousset-Martin, who has been working with Chateau Chalon more recently on vins ouillés (topped off, non-oxidative wines) previously unheard of for this AOC. But this wine rests for an extended élevage in barrels of 228 liters (Burgundy barrels) in ancient cellars, for a period of 12 years without topping off before bottling! The “voile” refers to the veil of yeast that forms along the top of the wine as it sits in the barrel, slowly building the character of what are considered some of the best wines in France.

In order to conform to the regulations of the Chateau Chalon AOC (subregion of Jura made up of 4 parts: Ménétru-le-Vignoble, Domblans, Château-Chalon et Nevy-sur-Seille), there are several other strict requirements, including that the wine must bottle at a minimum of 12% ABV, it must be 100% Savagnin, and if the weather is deemed unfit or subpar, it is recoiled and no wine can be made/sold under the AOC from that vintage.

Given the nature of the restrictions and history surrounding the appellation, it’s no wonder the vignerons of Chateau Chalon are referred to as auteurs. It really gives you a sense of the expectation that each winemaker is an artist in their own right, cultivating grapes with unique and expressive character. Do I enjoy the wine more knowing that it’s extremely rare and almost impossible to find? Yes, yes I do.

Domaine L’Octavin “Foutre d’Escampette” NV

Petnat or Petillant Naturel = naturally occurring bubbles that are a bi-product of fermentation finishing in the bottle. The bubbles tend to be lighter and may wear off, the grapes have been vinified with native yeasts and no sulfites added anytime, anywhere.

Poudre d’escampette = french saying that means “to clear out/run away as fast as you can”

Foutre = french slang for “semen”

Substitute Foutre for Poudre and you have a play on words that ends up meaning something like “Semen’s Escape” or “Jerk Off Wine”. As many French bio winemakers are doing these days, vulgar derivatives, slang, vaginas, political knocks and appellation fuck-yous are part of the culture of wine rebellion and revolution. This is mainly an attempt to call attention to the control the government has on regulating wine production and its various methods that prevent many smaller wine makers from producing and selling their wine (internationally or at all). It’s also calling attention to the need to reevaluate the use of chemicals and pesticides, and instead turning back towards natural and ancestral methods that are more in line with the earth’s cycles. It takes all elitism out of the equation too, which is too often the swamp most people get lost in with wine. Made by the people, for the people. Not only does each wine’s character reflect the character of the individual, it’s also an expression of the (here I go) terroir it comes from.

But seriously, try some…you can’t deny it.

Chateau d’Arlay Vin Jaune, Vin de Liqueur Macvin, et Vin de Paille 2002

 

An incredible way to taste the Jura, aged white wines (that border on liqueurs), and most importantly the sensibility of Alain de Laguiche. The Chateau has been classified as an historic monument that carries a family tradition of wine making for centuries, honoring and elevating the taste of terroir into an almost ethereal experience. Their tradition is marked by the use of aging on subterranean lees, and southern sun exposure to the vines. Each wine is a world unto itself, with a quality that can seemingly only be described as uniquely personal. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to taste these wines side by side at Bar Vivant, in a city I didn’t know, while reading “The Third Policeman” by Flann O’Brian. It was a rare evening, all around.

From left to right, Vin Jaune to Vin de Paille, the progression went from a heavy mineral, slightly nutty, manzanilla-like character to deep, brooding maple, smoked cherry and straw butter. Concentrated, intense, powerful, but all totally different!

le Vin Jaune: 100% Savagnin. Traditional methods apply, where wine undergoes 2nd fermentation allowing yeasts to form a protective layer at the top of the barrel. Over a course of 6 1/2 years, this develops into the bouquet that is so characteristic of Vin Jaune (and quite similar to that of some sherries).

le Vin de Liqueur Macvin: Chardonnay (50%) et Savagnin (50%). Aged for 7 years in brandy casks followed by 3 years in old oak barrels.

le Vin de Paille:  Chardonnay (30%), Poulsard (20%), Trousseau (20%) et Savagnin (30%). Vine clusters are hand picked and placed on straw mats for 3-4 months. The drying process naturally concentrates the fruit, elevates the sugar level and reduces acidity levels. After a light pressing, the liquid is put into small barrels and aged for 3-4 years, with no sugar added.

Jean-François Ganevat , Côtes du Jura “Les Chalasses Vieilles Vignes” 2006

One of the most beautiful white wines I have ever tasted. Magical liquid gold alchemy (repeating myself only because it’s necessary to emphasize this extraordinary quality). Incredibly vivacious, heady, mouthwateringly nuanced and lingering. I can still taste it. I’m time traveling. I’m there, on planet Ganevat Chalasses, melting inward as my gravitational pull turns me inside out.

 

Domaine de l’Octavin, Vin de France Trousseau “Les Corvées”, 2012

Intentionally labeled as a Vin de France, not an Arbois. The appellation wouldn’t allow the name due to the alchohol content falling below the minimum 10% (it rests at 9.8%). Very versatile, fun wine that is as light as a rosé but has the body and texture of a red. This particular bottle was shared with friends at a Chinese food/wine throw-down, and went incredibly well with salt & pepper shrimp, clams, lobster and pea shoots.

Domaine de Montbourgeau, Vin de Paille 2009

 

Mind blowing. Magical. What dreams are made of. Everything and nothing like it. Chamomile, straw, cedar, smoke, almond, maple, clay, sea shells, eau de groseille rouge?….I can’t even.

What makes this magic? From the producer:

“Montbourgeau produces only a tiny amount of a vin de paille.  This ‘paille’ is composed of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Savagnin and 20% Poulsard.  The grapes are left to raisin in the open air until the January following harvest, effectuating a high degree of concentration.  In effect, it takes 100 kilograms of grapes to produce a mere 10 liters of Vin de Paille at Montbourgeau.  A total of five hectoliters are produced in the years that Montbourgeau makes a Vin de Paille”.

Which is not every year… obviously this has very limited availability. Bottled exclusively in 375ml size.