Hey guys, as I just added some wines from the French region of Jura, I thought to write few lines about this "very special" wine region, about its unique soil and the exciting wine styles made there.
I was lucky enough to spend few days in Arbois a couple of years ago for the annual celebration of the new vintage of the Vin Jaune (to follow more info) and explore the region, visit some wineries and try delicious wines and incredible cheese. I would totally recommend it for all the wine lovers out there.
Jura is one of the smallest French wine region but really exciting in therms of wine style diversity and unique grape varieties. In this cold and austere region you can find the beautiful sparkling wines called Crémant du Jura, often made with Chardonnay, at a very affordable price. White and reds are made so differently and interestingly enough is one of the few wine producing areas that has oxidative wine in its heritage.
But back to the boring stuff.
The Jurassic period was named after Jura because the region's limestone mountains are representative of the geological developments which occurred between 145 million and 200 million years ago. Ergo the key soil types here are Jurassic period limestone and marl.
The name of L'Etoile, the village which is home to one of Jura's most distinctive appellations, is said to be derived from the star-shaped marine fossils which characterize its limestone-rich soils (etoile is French for 'star'). Chablis and the upper Loire Valley are built on a similar geological structure.
The climate is a typical cold and continental, with very rigid winters and fairly warm and dry summers. The best vineyard sites are therefore to be found on south facing slopes and it is really important the climate difference between the valley and the hillside.
What do the wines taste like?
It is not easy to come across a bad wine from Jura. The small vineyard area and the really long agriculture heritage make producers really maximize their efforts in producing wines. Jura is the homeland of natural wines.
The main grape varieties for white are Chardonnay and Savagnin, the reds are Pinot Noir, Poulsard and Trousseau. The whites stand out for their minerality and lively feeling, almost electrical, while the reds are often light and elegant, spicy and very easy drinking.
What is Vin Jaune and oxidative ageing?
Vin Jaune, or yellow wine, is a white wine made of the local Savagnin grape variety. It is a wine that ages for 6 years and 3 months in oak without being topped up. Basically, the wine naturally evaporates and on its surface grows a film yeast, slowing down the oxidation process. This creates a style of wine which is very unique bottled also in a very unique type of bottle, called clavelin, that measures only 62cl. It is a wine that can last forever and express its true potential after 20 years of ageing. Nutty, floral, spicy and complex, incredibly long and persistent, to be enjoyed with the local Comte cheese.