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The Pélican brief

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The germ of the idea for Domaine du Pélican, the Jura offshoot of Burgundy’s renowned Domaine Marquis d’Angerville, was a bottle of Stéphane Tissot’s 2005 Arbois Chardonnay “Les Bruyères” that Guillaume d’Angerville tasted blind at a Paris restaurant in 2007. D’Angerville had asked the sommelier to bring him a bottle of something not from Burgundy. On tasting the wine, he declared the sommelier had not followed his instructions and was dumbstruck when the bottle was unveiled.

So impressed by the wine was he that d’Angerville began searching for vineyards in the Jura. In 2012, he leased the Chateau de Chavanes in Montigny-les-Arsures, gaining access to five hectares of biodynamically farmed vines. The estate’s holdings were later expanded by two acquisitions of organically farmed vines: five hectares from Jean-Marc Brignot and, in 2014, four hectares from the retiring Jacques Puffeney.

The estate, whose name and label are inspired by the Arbois coat of arms, currently makes and sells four wines, all vinified à la bourguignonne, in the Burgundian style, by which d’Angerville means non-oxidized. The estate’s first oxidized wine, a vin jaune, is slated for release in 2022.

Arbois 2015, Savagnin Ouillé, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265041)
100% organically farmed Savagnin primarily from two parcels (Barbi and Grand Curoulet) of Jurassic marl and terre de gryphées. Manually harvested. Lightly crushed then whole-cluster pressed. Fermented in stainless steel and matured 10 months, mostly in neutral 350-litre barrels. which are regularly topped-up (ouillé) to prevent oxidation. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Striking nose of lemon, green apple, quartz and, per other tasters, “terroir smoke” and “deviled eggs.” Fresh and vibrant in the mouth, with an elegant texture, impressively pure fruit, brilliant acidity, great minerality and every dimension. Long, racy and complete. Exactly the kind of commanding unullaged Savagnin that floats my boat. (Yes but…)

Arbois 2015, Chardonnay, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265032)
100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the Barbi vineyard and three other parcels. Mainly limestone with clay and marl. Wine-making is as for the Savagnin. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Subtle nose: faint orchard and stone fruit, hints of oat and “flowers changing to chalk.” In the mouth, it’s more buttery and smoother, less marked by acidity than its flightmates. There’s real complexity, including a vein of minerality that lasts into the long finish. So elegant and still evolving. Excellent but needs five to 10 years. (Sure but…)

Arbois 2015, Poulsard, Domaine du Pélican ($52.25, 13314113)
The first vintage of the wine. 100% Poulsard entirely from the Puffeney vineyards. The wine-making was guided by Puffeney. Manually harvested. Fully destemmed. Fermeneted in vats. Matured 10 months in 228-litre oak barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Complex nose of “cranberry,” “earth,” spice, prosciutto fat, undergrowth and slate. Light- to medium-bodied. The ripe if ethereal fruit is structured by gossamer tannins and racy acidity. The layers – veils is perhaps the better term – of flavour give a certain depth. Long, minerally, old-woody finish. Fresh, fleet and wonderfully pure. Poulsard is sometimes done in a rustic style but not here. So engaging. “Effing good.” (Buy again? Yes but…)

Arbois 2015, Trois Cépages, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265083)
A PPT, i.e. a blend of Pinot Noir (65%), Poulsard (30%) and Trousseau (5%). Wine-making is as for the Poulsard, though without Puffeney’s input. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Outgoing nose of “strawberries,” “tart cherries,” “a bit of meat“ and “nutmeg.” Medium-bodied and more structured than the Poulsard. Again, the fruit is remarkably pure but here framed by light, torquey tannins and sleek acidity. Good length and balance. Young but already showing some complexity. Impeccable. (Buy again? Sure but…)

This was my first encounter with Domaine du Pélican’s wines. Going in, I’d wondered whether they would taste more Burgundian than Juraassien. They didn’t. While you’ll have to look elsewhere for the rusticity and funk found and prized in some Jura wines, there’s no denying that these could come from nowhere but the Jura and that the Savagnin and Poulsard are textbook examples of the grapes and style.

Why the buy-again buts then? The price. Nearly everyone around the table said they’d plunk for one or more of the wines if they were in the $30 to $40 range but not at $50. My memories of the Savagnin and Poulsard are so vivid and compelling that I’ve come close to splurging on a bottle of each. And then I remember that the 2013 Puffeney Poulsard cost $31.50 a bottle (and that was through the higher-markup private import channel), making it hard not to conclude that Domaine du Pélican is charging Burgundy prices for Jura wines, that you are, to some degree, paying through the nose for a name. Maybe that’s why, however outstanding they may be, all the wines in this limited release remain available more than two months after the release date.

MWG July 27th tasting: flights 4 and 5 of 7

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Written by carswell

September 25, 2017 at 11:21

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