About this WINE
The lower slopes of the Jura mountains are among the most beautiful parts of viticultural France. They form the eastern flank of the Saone valley, mirroring the Côte d’Or across the way. It is a shame that their wines are much less well known.
Two main white grapes are used, Savagnin and Chardonnay, to make different styles of wine. The barrels of Savagnin are not topped up, so they become lightly and deliberately oxidised, though the wine is saved from spoilage by the formation of a film of yeast known as ‘flor’ on top of the wine, as also happens with fino sherry. Unusual but exciting wine.
The Chardonnay barrels are kept topped up, but even so the wines tend to offer a hint of the same nutty character on top of the more classic outline of the Chardonnay grape.
Stéphane Tissot is a leading grower in the wine appellation of Arbois, where he farms his vineyards biodynamically and is rare in offering single vineyard bottlings such as Les Bruyères.
Arbois is the most important appellation in Jura and the largest along with Côtes du Jura. Home of one of the fathers of microbiology, Louis Pasteur, the appellation takes its name from the small town of Arbois, which is nestled away in the verdant Jura countryside.
The harshness of Arbois’ winters can be an impediment to wine growers but this doesn’t stop the production of some notable wines. The appellation makes wines of a variety of styles:
- Dry whites (in the traditional oxidative or modern aromatic style) from Chardonnay and the region’s signature grape, Savagnin
- Light, fresh, dry reds from Pinot Noir, Trousseau, or Poulsard
- And the regional specialities vin jaune (medium sweet) and vin de paille.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.