Posts Tagged ‘Jura’
Located in the commune of Montaigu in the southern Jura, the estate now known as Domaine Pignier was created by monks in the 13th century and acquired by the Pignier family in 1794. It was certified biodyanmic in the early 2000s. The focus is on the vineyards, with a minimalist approach in the cellar (no added anything except occasionally minute amounts of sulphur).
Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine Pignier ($36.46, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from biodynamically framed vines. Manually harvested. Briefly macerated and fermented using a pied de cuve starter. The base wine is matured six months in oak barrels, then sparkled using the traditional method, with no dosage. No added sulphur. The bottles are aged on lattes for 12 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Deep salmon pink with pink foam and fine bubbles. Intriguing nose: strawberry cheese danish, “cheese rind,” prosciutto, “baker’s yeast” and more. Dry and buoyant on the palate. Though there’s a soft-glowing core of red berries, the fruit is ethereal, haunting more than inhabiting a matix of minerals that prompted descriptors like “saline” and “seaweed.” Long savoury finish. Lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)
Côtes du Jura 2014, Trousseau, Les Gauthières, Domaine Pignier ($57.33, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Trousseau from biodynamically farmed, massal propagated vines. Yields are kept very low (25 hl/ha). The manually harvested grapes are destemmed, macerated and fermented using a pied de cuve starter and manual punch-downs and pump-overs during an entire lunar cycle. Matured 12 months in oak barrels of various sizes. Unfiltered. Bottled by gravity and with no added sulphur on a fruit day (per the lunar calendar). 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Morello cherry, hard red candy, dried leaves, limestone, eventually tomato and “umami.” More like cranberry in the mouth with charcoal overtones. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. Chewing brings out the fruit and reveals dimension and complexity. The fine tannins add a mild astringency to the long, vapourous finish with its faint almond note and Szechuan pepper-like numbingness. Accessible but young and best cellared for five or 10 years. Way pricey but one of the most beautiful Trousseaus I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Yes.)
MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 3 of 6
After studying oenology and working at estates in various regions of France, Julien Mareschal founded Domaine de la Borde in Pupillin in the Jura in 2003. The estate currently has 5 ha of vines, 3.5 ha of which are white grape varieties. The vines – the typical mix of Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trouseau – average around 30 years of age. Though synthetic chemicals and herbicides have been avoided from the start, the estate officially switched to organic farming only in 2012, when it also began following certain biodynamic procedures.
Arbois Pupillin 2014, Terre du Lilas, Domaine de la Borde ($40.25, 12886494)
100% Chardonnay from a steeply sloped (20°), southwest-facing vineyard of argillo-calcareous topsoil over deep grey marl. Altitude: 450 m. Manually harvested. Eighty percent destemmed. The pressed juice is chilled to 6 to 8°C, then clarified by settling for 12 to 24 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 500-litre neutral oak barrels. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for 20 months. Reducing sugar: 2.4 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Intriguing nose of toffee, shrimp shells and apricot yogurt. Medium-bodied, hazy and round, with no sharp edges. Apple, lemon, oatmeal and mineral flavours intertwine. Acidity buoys. Finishes long and on a dried seaweed note. Approachable and likeable. (Buy again? Yes.)
Arbois Pupillin 2014, Naturé, Foudre à Canon, Domaine de la Borde ($40.25, 12886566)
100% Naturé (aka Savagnin from a very steeply sloped (30°) vineyard of grey and blue marl covered by paper shale. Altitude: 400 m. Manually harvested. Eighty percent destemmed. The pressed juice is chilled to 6 to 8°C, then clarified by settling for 12 to 24 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 600- and 1,200-litre foudres. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for 20 months. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Initial surprising aromas (smoke, “sour cabbage,” “paprika”) segue into less unexpected limestone, pear and dried lemon zest as the wine breathes. Bracing and a little austere on the palate. White and citrus fruit and a mother lode of minerals are thrown into relief by streaming acidity and a striking absence of sugar. White spice and brine haunt the long finish. The purity and delineation are breathtaking. Even better three or four hours after opening. (Buy again? Done!)
Arbois Pupillin 2014, Côte de Caillot, Domaine de la Borde ($40.25, 12886427)
100% Chardonnay from a very steeply sloped (30°), south-facing vineyard of pebbly argillo-calcareous topsoil over limestone. Altitude: 550 m. Manually harvested. Eighty percent destemmed. The pressed juice is chilled to 6 to 8°C, then clarified by settling for 12 to 24 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in second- to fifth-fill 500-litre oak barrels. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for 20 months. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Complex nose of “butter,” “smoke,” tropical fruit, sweat, “hay” and a hint of honey. Richer and a bit sweeter seeming than the Lilas. Except for the addition of yellow apple, the flavours echo the nose. Soft-glow acidity provides enough freshness, the aforementioned flavours and a chalky/flinty substrate produce a layered effect. Long, honey-cream finish. (Buy again? Sure though not in preference to the Terre du Lilas.)
A flight that generated a lot of discussion. Most around the table were seduced by the Chardonnays, found the Naturé too austere. When cleaning up after everyone had left, I discovered tail ends of the bottles in the fridge and revisited them. The Chards were still beguiling but seemed a little soft and shapeless and dominated by caramel/toffee/honey. The Naturé, on the other hand, was singing, glorying in its vibrancy, intensity and awesome minerality. I bought a bottle the next day.
MWG October 27, 2016, tasting: flight 3 of 7
Vin de France 2014, J’en veux encore !!!, Anne & Jean-François Ganevat ($36.75, 12884190)
The original label, an ink sketch of the backside, from the shoulders to the knees, of a seated young woman wearing only a thong, has been replaced for the Quebec market with a text-only label. An 70-30 blend of Gamay from the Beaujolais and Trousseau from very old Jura vines, hence the vin de France designation. All the grapes are organically farmed, manually harvested and destemmed. Whole grape fermentation (old-fashioned carbonic maceration) is with indigenous yeasts. Matured 10 months in tronconic wood tanks. No fining, filtration or added sulphur. Reducing sugar: < 1.2 g/l. 10.9% ABV per the label, 12% per the SAQ. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Strawberries, dog hair, minerals, eventually spice. A mouthful of sweet-tart red fruit and minerals on the lighter side of medium-bodied. Super-supple tannins (the acidity’s carrying the structure here). Not what you’d call long. Pricey but pure, delicious and so very quaffable. (Buy again? Am not returning our backup bottle, so yes, but only that one.)
Vin de France 2014, Libre-K, Anne & Jean-François Ganevat ($42.00, 12884405)
80% Gamay from Morgon blended with old indigenous varieties from Ganevat’s vineyards in the Jura. Naturally vinified: manally harvested, destemmed grapes; whole-grape fermentation (old-fashioned carbonic maceration) with indigenous yeasts in tronconic vats; 12 month’s maturation in old foudres; no fining, filtration or added sulphur. Reducing sugar: 12.5%. Reducing sugar: 1.2 g/l. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Our first bottle was corked. The backup was clean as a whistle. Savoury/funky nose, the fruit plummier and the minerals slatier than the J’en veux encore. In the mouth, it’s darker, richer and deeper though not particularly fruity. Light but persistent tannins and sleek acidity provide structure. Finishes clean and long. Approachable now but will surely benefit from a few years’ ageing. Not without appeal, but is that enough to justify a $42 price tag (which, as one taster pointed out, is almost exactly the same as for Foillard’s excellent 2014 Morgon “Côte de Py”)? (Buy again? Only if feeling flush.)
While the assembled tasters enjoyed these, no one thought they represented good value. Ten dollars too expensive was the general verdict.
MWG August 12th tasting: flight 5 of 8
Crémant du Jura 2011, Délire des Lyres, Zéro, Les Chais du Vieux Bourg ($31.95, 12814221)
Based in Arlay but with additional vineyards in Poligny, L’Étoile and Château-Chalon, the four-hectare estate was founded in 2003 by former architect Ludwig Bindernagel and Nathalie Eigenschenck. All work in the vineyard is done manually. While not officially organic, the estate does not use insecticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers and expects to obtain biodynamic certification in a few years. This traditional method, undosed sparkler is made 100% from Chardonnay grapes (per the SAQ; some claim it contains 10% Savagnin) from 30-year-old vines. The individual parcels are vinified separately. The grapes are manually harvested, pressed in a wooden press and fermented in large oak barrels. The resulting wine is given extended maturation on its lees. Added sulphur: 3 g/hl. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward et associés.
Attractive nose of browning pear and apple, honey, minerals and faint yeasty brioche notes. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, tightly wound and very dry, with very fine bubbles producing an almost prickly sensation. Tending to apple and citrus, the mineral-dusted fruit is “less rich than the nose suggests” (quoting another taster). Despite the effervescence and bracing acidity, the wine is oddly inert on the mid-palate. Fairly long with a bitter aftertaste. A second bottle tasted three weeks later was identical. (Buy again? Maybe a bottle to cellar for a year or two to see if we caught it during a dumb phase.)
Expectations around this bottle – a naturalish, no-dosage sparkler from a new-to-us but highly regarded producer in one of our favourite wine regions and represented by one of our favourite agencies – were high. Which made its lacklustre showing all the more disappointing. Not that the wine was bad. Far from it. But no one around the tables thought it represented good value when you can get, say, Baud’s Brut Sauvage for under $24 or Tissot’s basic crémant for $28 and change.
MWG March 31st tasting: flight 1 of 6
Côtes du Jura 2013, Fleur de Savagnin, Domaine Labet ($41.50, 10783248)
The estate was certified organic in 2012. Technically a 100% Savagnin, this is actually a blend of Savagnin Vert (65%) and Savagnin Jaune (35%) from five parcels planted between 1940 and 1989. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured 12 months on the lees in large oak barrels, which were regularly topped up to prevent oxidation. Unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 2.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV per the label, 14% per the SAQ. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lean nose of quartz, wax, faint honey and lemon. Flavours are similar but also include “tart butter” (quoting another taster) and a hint of fennel. The fruit is vibrant and pure, a state only amplified by the dazzling, mouth-filling acidity and minerality. The effect is not so much tense as energetic, acrobatic even, and it lasts through the long, racy finish. A subsequent bottle paired brilliantly with a selection of fine cheeses. I always enjoy Labet’s Fleur but this is sensational. (Buy again? Yes, despite the $6 price hike from the preceding vintage.)
Côtes du Jura 2013, Chardonnay, Bajocien, Domaine Labet ($42.50, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vines rooted in Bajocien limestone. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured on the lees in barrels. Minimal sulphur dioxide. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Oats and lemon with hints of pear/apple, wool, hay and burned fennel. “Not as clean or precise as wine number 1,” though equally engaging and appealing. Bright acidity turns the fleshy fruit tart while the extract rounds the sharp edges. Complex flavours entwine in a sunny, hazy mid-palate. The finish is as long and minerally as the Fleur’s but also a little softer. It’s rare to encounter a Chardonnay with this much character, especially at this price. Accessible now but so balanced and deep it can age for several years. (Buy again? Yes.)
MWG November 12th tasting: flight 3 of 6
Crémant du Jura 2011, Rosé, Domaine Labet ($26.75, private import, 12 bottles/case, NLA)
A 60-40 blend of organically farmed Pinot Noir and Poulsard from 30- to 40-year-old vines. Macerated on the skins for several days. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured on its fine lees in fûts (42%), vats (32%) and barrels (26%). Allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. A small amount of yeast and sugar was added to the finished wine, which was then bottled and matured. After three years, the bottles were disgorged, given a small dosage and corked. 12.2% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lovely if understated mix of minerals, red berries (“old cherries” per one taster) and rhubarb with faint honey, old wood and floral overtones. In the mouth, it’s dry, minerally, haunted by fruit and wood, animated by fine bubbles and brilliant acidity. The long, clean finish has hints of toast and – could it be? – tannins. This was shown on trade day at the Salon des vins d’importation privée and restaurateurs were understandably all over it. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)
3B Rosé, Método Tradicional, Filipa Pato (c. $25.00, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
A 70-30 blend of Baga and Bical from the Bairrada region (whence the three Bs); the vines average 30 years old and are rooted in sandy and clayey limestone soils. Manually harvested and gently pressed. Allowed to clarify by settling, then cool-fermented (16°C) with indigenous yeasts in 650-litre barrels and stainless steel vats. Sparkled using the traditional method. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Dense though not particularly fruity nose: “cream soda meets barley candy,” terracotta, melon, a hint of strawberry and a whiff of musk. More viscous than the buoyant Labet. Fruitier, too, though not bonbon-ish, thanks in part to the mineral substrate. Mild effervescence and soft acidity may explain the slight lethargy. A touch of peppery bitterness and astringency enlivens the long finish, which is more felt than tasted. Dry at first, the wine seemed to gain sweetness as it warmed and breathed. The member who donated the bottle said the white 3B is even more interesting. (Buy again? Maybe.)
MWG November 12th tasting: flight 1 of 6
Arbois 2012, Poulsard de l’Ami Karl, Domaine de la Pinte ($24.25, 12616515)
100% biodynamically and organically farmed Poulsard from a single vineyard planted nearly 40 years ago. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Maceration and fermentation, with indigenous yeasts and daily pump-overs, take place in tanks. Matured in 50-hl oak barrels for eight or nine months. Lightly filtered before bottling. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Raisonnance.
Fragrant nose of red berries, sweet spice, cedar and slate. Light- to medium-bodied, silky textured, wonderfully fresh, fluid and alive. The pale cherry-cranberry fruit is bright with acidity and deepened by a savoury, woodsy substrate. Chewing reveals fine, tight tannins, showing the wine to be more structured than first appears. Long, spicy finish. Bordering on magical – even New World fans and self-proclaimed Poulsard haters gave it a thumbs-up. Serve lightly chilled. (Buy again? Done and done again!)
Arbois 2011, Trousseau Grevillière, Domaine Daniel Dugois ($24.55, 12210419)
100% Trousseau from vines planted in the one-hectare Grevillière lieu-dit in the 1950s. Manually harvested. 100% destemmed. The lightly crushed grapes are cold-macerated then fermented with indigenous yeasts for around 18 days. Matured in large oak barrels for 18 months. Lightly filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Symbiose.
Jammy red berries and crushed leaves. Round, extracted and mouth-filling. The fruit, which tastes stewed, is structured only a little by the streaming acidity and soft tannins. Decent length but heavy for a Jura red, lacking detail and devoid of excitement. Some drinkers report it needs a few years in the cellar or many hours in a carafe to start strutting its stuff; maybe that explains it. (Buy again? A bottle to age and see what gives?)
Arbois 2013, Poulsard, Jacques Puffeney ($31.50, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Poulsard from several different parcels in Montigny and Arbois. Manually harvested. Fermented in vats with indigenous yeasts for 15 to 20 days, then racked into neutral foudres for malolactic fermentation. Matured in barrels for around two years. Unfiltered and unfined. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vini-Vins.
Closed nose, somewhat slatey and offering up an unusual aroma one taster described as “cold poutine.” Slowly develops minty raspberry and cedar shake notes. Similarly closed and unexpressive in the mouth. Light- to medium-bodied. The fruit is lean, the acidity brisk, the tannins light and tight. Minerals and spice come out on the long finish. Classic natural Poulsard – hazy, earthy and complex – but somewhat enigmatic and austere for now. Will be interesting to revisit in a couple of years. (Buy again? Yes, especially since this is the retiring Puffeney’s next-to-last vintage.)
MWG October 8th tasting: flight 4 of 7