The Jura wine region is a mountainous hidden gem located between Bourgogne and Switzerland. The small area extends 48 miles from north to south and covers 5000 acres. Exports of this already modest wine production are just 10%. Jura’s traditional and unique wine styles like Macvin (a fortified must), Vin Jaune (French for yellow wine – aged oxidatively), and Vin de Paille (French for straw wine- sweet wine) are worth the effort of discovery. I paired my first taste of Jura wine with a simple cheese plate since Jura is also known as a major cheese producer.
Fast Facts about Jura
Jura produces dry red, rosé, and white wines, crémant, Macvin (a fortified must), Vin Jaune (French for yellow wine – aged oxidatively), Vin de Paille (French for straw wine- sweet wine), marc, and fine brandy.
Once known as mainly a red wine-growing region, today, Jura’s notoriety is white wines crafted for long-term aging.
Most vineyards lie between 660-1320 feet in elevation.
The soils are the reverse opposite of the Côte d’Or located just west across the Bresse plan. Côte d’Or soils are 80% limestone and 20% clay. Jura soils are 80% clay and 20% limestone.
The climate is semi-continental with cold winters, warm summers with cool nights, average annual rainfall of 45 inches, and 1800 hours of sunshine.
5 Principle Grapes: White Grapes: Chardonnay and Savagnin – Red Grapes: Poulsard, Pinot Noir, and Trousseau
6 AOCS: Arbois, Château-Chalon, L’Etoile, Côte du Jura, MacVin du Jura, and Crémant du Jura
Vin Jaune vs. Conventional White Wines
Traditional Jura white wines known as Vin Jaune are aged “sous voile” or under a veil of yeast that grows over the wine in a barrel that has not been topped off or moved for 60 months. The surface yeast that develops is similar to Sherry’s flor. The yeast veil controls oxidation, while chemical reactions with the microorganisms and the wine can result in distinguishing aromas of walnuts, hazelnuts, beeswax, oriental spices, cheese rind, and brine.
Jura also makes “conventional” white wines, with minimum oxygen exposure or “ouillé,” meaning topped up like normal wines world-wide. This method preserves the fresh fruit flavors without oxidative notes.
My Tasting Notes
The grapes for these wines come from vineyards within the Château Chalon AOC (wine can only be labeled with this AOC if produced in the Vin Jaune method). Because Francois makes these wines in the nonoxidative (ouillé or topped-up) style, they are labeled as Côte du Jura AOC.
2018 Francois Rousset-Martin Côte du Jura “Mémée Marie”
13.5% abv | $54.00 Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant | 85% Chardonnay & 15% Savagnin
Vineyards: average 40 years old
Soils: gray and white marl
Farming: practicing organic
Aging: Chardonnay is made reductively or ouillé, topped up. The Savagnin is aged three months sous-voile, under flor and controlled oxidation. The juice is then blended in stainless steel tanks and aged for 11 months.
This wine is mentioned as a great introduction for the “uninitiated palate into the wild world of Jura aromatics.” – Jane Berg
Medium yellow in color. Aromas of citrus, green apple, pear, and spices. On the palate, dry with medium body and medium (+) acidity. Flavors of citrus, chalk, green apple, and cheesy, briny notes from oxidation. Complex with lingering flavors.
2017 Francois Rousset-Martin Côte du Jura Savagnin “Puits Saint Pierre”
13.5% abv | $67.00 Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant | 100% Savagnin
Vineyards: 80+ years old
Soils: gray marl
Farming: practicing organic
Aging: In the barrel for six months, sous-voile then topped off for ten months.
Medium(-) gold in color. Aromas of citrus, smoke, minerals, pear, and honey. On the palate, dry with medium body and medium(+) acidity. Flavors of citrus, minerals, and smoke with a clean, fresh lingering finish.
Jura Paired with a Cheese Plate
For my first taste of Jura wines, I paired them with a simple cheese plate. Jura has four AOC-designated kinds of cheese, Comté, Morbier, Mont d’Or, and Bleu de Gex. I could not procure those exact cheeses on my day at the cheese shop, but I did find a few that were similar and others that I took a chance on.
My Pairing Notes
2018 Francois Rousset-Martin Côte du Jura “Mémée Marie” – The fried onion strings and Roth Grand Cru enhance the wine and food flavors. The Thomasville Tomme brings out the citrus and tart notes in the wine. Not shown, I also paired some Picholine olives, which match a briny note in the wine.
2017 Francois Rousset-Martin Côte du Jura Savagnin “Puits Saint Pierre” – The more pungent flavored cheeses, Roth Grand Cru, and Emmi Caved Aged Gruyere were my favorite pairing. The robust flavors and notes in both the cheese and wine were brought into balance, creating a harmonious pairing. The Thomasville Tomme again brought put the citrus notes in the wine. And finally, the toasted almonds intensified the nutty element in the wine.
Overall I found the prosciutto, Gabietou, and pears to be a neutral pairing. The Raclette was too mild for the wine. The mango chutney was just too sweet, making the wines taste tart and bitter.
Sources Used: Wine Scholar Guild and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
For More Jura Wine Region discoveries, check out my fellow French Winophile’s articles ~
- 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.”