The oldest wine we’ve ever had was from the Jura. It was a vin jaune by Michel Tissot, from… 1961! We’d kept it in our basement for a few years and never dared to open it. No occasion seemed to feel special enough. So, in February 2019, at last, we popped the cork for Open That Bottle Night. Well, we didn’t exactly “pop” the cork. There was that scary moment was when it broke in half. Unsure about the best course of action, we pushed the rest in and voila, vin jaune 1961 was finally on our dinner table. At first, the wine was muted. But in the hour leading to dinner, little by little, wonderful aromas filled the room. Amazing that a wine can be so delicious 58 years after the grapes were picked!
Vin jaune is made from local variety Savagnin, and aged several years under a veil of yeast (similar to the flor for Sherry), is one of the great “oxidative” wines of the world, and perhaps the Jura’s flagship signature wine. Some bottles sold at auction for tens of thousands of dollars, and one even over $100,000.
Following classically recommended foods for this, we bought some Comté cheese, and made a chicken in a creamy sauce with morels. It’s called “poulet au vin jaune” but rest assured that not a drop of 1961 vin jaune was harmed while making this dish. We put a far cheaper oxidative dry white wine in the recipe!
This month’s Winophiles focus on the Jura brought back these great wine memories, and we happened to have another, very different Jura wine. We just bought it a few weeks ago in Toulouse, at our favorite wine shop, Le Temps des Vendanges (also an incredible lunch spot), whose owner, Eric Cuestas, recently won the Revue des Vins de France’s trophy for best caviste of 2021. All we ever need to ask Monsieur Cuestas is “what are your coups de coeur at the moment.” This time he walked over to his small Jura shelf, pointed to a bottle, and said “you have to try this, it’s superb.” You can’t imagine how many wine treasures we’ve discovered in this way.
And what he chose was a great reminder that of course, Jura white wines are not all made in an oxidative style, far from it. In fact, for its small size (4,570 acres of vineyards), the region is remarkably diverse. There are distinctive reds from local varieties Poulsard and Trousseau, and also some Pinot Noir. There are sweet wines, and traditional method sparkling wines (Crémant du Jura). And of course, the white wines from Savagnin and Chardonnay grapes made into not just in the oxidative style (including vin jaune), but also fresh and fruity, crisp whites, like the one we got for today.
The Jura is definitely one of those more obscure wine regions that you have to seek at wine-geek type places, and you are unlikely to find Jura wine at an American supermarket. Though in France, you will see some at supermarkets, including some relatively inexpensive vin jaune. The region has been experiencing a renaissance, and has even attracted investors from Burgundy, with some even claiming they are out there researching how to improve the local red wines (got to wonder how the locals feel about that!). Some hope that Burgundy wine investors’ very well established global trade networks could help the Jura gain more recognition and increase exports. To learn more about the region, we’ll need to read the Jura Wine book by Jura expert Wink Lorch.
The rising demand for Jura wines has been great news, but it has recently been paired with recurring adverse weather events that reduce an already small production. This year, the Jura was one of the first wine regions in France affected by the devastating spring frost episodes. Some producers reported up to 90% losses in their vineyards, and the majority of local vignerons are not insured. The last few years have been tough, with frosts in 2017 and 2019 as well, and then, in 2020, drought! So it’s a good time to open that Jura wine now and support the region by planning your next Jura wine dinner.
Today’s wine: Domaine de Saint Pierre “Chateau Renard” Arbois 2018
We were surprised (and delighted) to find out when we googled this wine that it’s quite popular, widely reviewed on Wine Searcher and Vivino, and imported in the US by Beaune Imports. It’s a Chardonnay from 30+ year old vines, with a zesty, lemony character, bright acidity and it really wakes up your palate. Vinification is low intervention, with natural yeasts, and no sulfur (a common trait of wines we buy at Le Temps des Vendanges).
The food: Vincenzo’s salmon pasta
During lockdown in France last year, Pierre’s dad started following the immensely popular Vincenzo’s Plate Facebook page. Ever since, he has been regularly sharing recipe discoveries with us. Vincenzo, an Italian chef who lives in Australia, plays the social media-YouTube-Tiktok game very well. His YouTube channel has more than 657,000 subscribers. After months of amusement and distant observation, we finally tried one recipe, and never looked back. We’ve made enough recipes by now that we should have a Vincenzo’s recipes and (Italian, of course!) wine pairing theme.
Pierre’s dad’s latest discovery was Vincenzo’s recently published salmon pasta. The bright acidity and lemony character of the wine went very well with the salmon and the simple creamy sauce with lemon juice and lemon zest.
WARNING! Full Disclosure: We can only say this recipe was “Vincenzo-inspired”, otherwise he would kill us. Vincenzo has very strong feelings about this sort of thing (you can buy his T-shirts or aprons that say “no cream on Carbonara”). You see, we’d been really lucky all year with the accuracy of grocery deliveries. But this time, the shopper picked cilantro instead of parsley, and “refunded” mascarpone (hard to believe there was none at the supermarket). So, instead, we used crème fraiche, dill and chives. So sorry, Vincenzo! We’ll make the real one next time, and we’ll let you watch the video and discover Vincenzo’s intensity.
Thank you to Winophile Payal Vora from Keep the Peas for hosting this month’s Jura theme. If you read this in time, join the #Winophiles chat on Twitter about Jura wine on Saturday August 21, 2021 at 8am PST. Check out the group’s wonderful food and Jura wine ideas at the posts below.
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm tempts us with Slow Cooker Mushroom Soup with a Jura Trosseau.
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla knocks it out of the park as always, this time with Poulet Rôti + Charles Rouget 2018 Trousseau Côtes du Jura.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles tells us about A Baby Vin Jaune 15 Generations in the Making.
- Gwendolyn over on Wine Predator….Gwendolyn Alley takes us 4 Wines and 4 Dishes To Try from The Jura in The French Alps.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! explains The Jura Beyond Vin Jaune.
- Jane at Always Ravenous leads us to “Discover Jura Wines Paired with a Cheese Plate.”
- Pierre and Cynthia at Traveling Wine Profs encourages us to Open that Jura now!
- And lastly, Payal, this month’s host, at Keep the Peas has “A Day in the Life of a Jura Wine Lover.”