- October 16, 2015
Chloe’s fourth post here on the Weeklygrape is non other than Jura. A bit off the beaten path, but infused with that Brit style that I find entertaining. Enjoy.
As a Sommelier I am often asked by customers and clients about new wine trends and unique regions. As wine is such a vast subject, this question can have a completely different answer depending on who you’re talking to and when and where you’re discussing it. For me personally, one niche trend that I see as having a lot of potential for exposure and growth on this side of the pond is wine from the Jura. If you haven’t heard of Jura, that’s perfectly ok, because outside of the world of wine pros and cellar geeks, not too many people are akin to these quirky beauties. This little vinous pocket of France is quite simply as eccentric and idiosyncratic as a wine region can get. If you’re tired of cookie cutter wine styles that are so perfect they bore you, look no further! Now is the time to discover and get very excited about Jura.
Located in Eastern France and sandwiched between Switzerland and the famed Burgundy wine region, Jura has some of the quirkiest and most distinctive wines in all of France. The Jura’s climate is cool and the wine-making styles are left-of-center, so the wines that come out of the region are light to medium bodied with heaps of refreshing acidity and boundless character. The wines are rarely filtered or fined, the yeasts used for fermentation are natural and indigenous and viticultural practices are typically organic. It is also one of the few viticultural areas that hasn’t adjusted style or technique to please the international palate. Jura winemakers proudly protect age-old traditional methods and that is exactly what makes these wines so unique.
Due to Jura’s close proximity to Burgundy, you will find a good smattering of wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but the true superstars of the region are the local varietals: Savagnin, Poulsard and Trousseau. These bad boys produce wines for the truly adventurous palate. A great example of this is the traditional white wine of the Jura, known as Vin Jaune, or yellow wine. This staunchly traditional wine is made from the Savagnin grape and it one of the rarest wine styles in France. Production of this off-beat beauty is tiny. Vin Jaune has a distinctively nutty, briny flavor, not too dissimilar from a Fino Sherry. Like Fino, it is also aged under a film of yeast and is exposed to varying degrees of oxygen during maturation. Vin Jaune wines are odd, mouth-puckering and mind-blowingly awesome with a local Morbier cheese and salted almonds. I highly encourage any interested palate to explore Vin Jaune. Local reds are also intriguing. Made from the Poulsard and Trousseau grapes (ether blended or as single varietals), red wine can be everything from velvety smooth and feather-light, to rich, spicy and expressively fruity. The best of the best straddle a paradoxical line between being refreshingly tart and youthful, yet abundantly earthy, fleshy and dirty. Sign me up any day! If you’re hankering for something less off, yes, of course you can find the more mainstream styles of wine. Jura produces wonderful Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that are certainly worth exploring, but it’s the quirky odd-ball styles that get my cork dork senses going. To put it in Hollywood terms, Jura wines are like Zooey Deschanel. They are wonderfully weird yet hip. There’s an irresistible geekiness to them, but they also have a natural beauty and true elegance to them. Simply put, there’s nothing ordinary about Jura wines, but in this day and age where engineered yeast strains and chemically altered wines are in abundance, it’s refreshing to come across something natural and truly unique. In my option, it’s this this left-of-center dedication that makes the wines of Jura absolute superstars in the modern wine world.
Although quantities are are small compared to the likes of Burgundies and Bordeaus, Jura wines are making appearances on carefully curated wine lists across the country. Keep your eyes peeled, and if you do come across one, take a chance and I guarantee that you’ll fall in love.