Jura Wine Region:
With just over 2,000 hectares under vine, running in a narrow strip from Arbois in the north to Saint-Amour in the south, the Jura represents something of a footnote in French viticulture, albeit a very important one. In this relatively remote, land-locked wilderness traditional grape varieties and techniques have survived yielding wines of great character and a strong sense of ‘terroir’ or taste pertaining to location.
Despite its relatively small size (equivalent to Sancerre) the Jura is home to 5 grape varieties, 6 AOCs and 200 estates of various sizes. There are four geographic AOCs – Arbois, L’Etoile, Côtes du Jura and Château-Chalon (exclusively Vin Jaune) - and two product AOCs – Crémant du Jura and Macvin du Jura (a blend of grape juice and spirit, like a Pineau).
As for the wines themselves, the traditional whites from the Savagnin grape are sherry-like (if the barrels are not top-upped), while the reds (Poulsard and Trousseau) are light in colour, fruity and elegant rather than rich. Fans of cru Beaujolais or lighter Pinot Noirs would appreciate them. Sparkling Crémant is also made - from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as tiny volumes of deliciously sweet Vin de Paille (from grapes that have dried in lofts over the winter).
As one might expect, the wines are at home with the dishes of the Jura – reds with Morteau sausages, whites with Comté cheese, none more so than Vin Jaune, aged for 6 years and 3 months before release and served in its unique 62cl bottle called a clavelin. The Jura is proud of its heritage (especially its most famous son, Louis Pasteur) and has heroically defended its wine culture – in 1973 its winemakers descended on Strasbourg armed with clavelins and 15kg Comté cheeses to see off the threat of the EU harmonising bottle sizes!