Jura Wine

Jura Wine

The landlocked, elevated vineyards of the Jura lie in the sparsely-populated rural hill country between Burgundy and Switzerland and are an ancient and, until recently, too often overlooked enclave of viticulture. Prior to phylloxera in the 19th century, there were almost 20,000 hectares under vine, yet today there are fewer than 2,000 hectares but the region's characterful and idiosyncratic wines are gaining increasing international interest and there is an energy and sense of excitement here that many larger wine regions must envy.

Based in the hill village of Montigny-lès-Arsures, just north of the wine capital of Arbois, siblings Valérie and Jean-Christophe Tissot run Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot with a strong respect for tradition and great enthusiasm. She looks after sales and marketing and he concentrates on the vineyard and winemaking. Their sparkling Crèmant de Jura is made entirely from bottle-fermented Chardonnay and has a lively mousse, toasty top notes, some nutty nuances and a fresh finish - so makes for a versatile apéritif. A still white wine - made from the local grape Savagnin - is intentionally oxidative in style with strong Manzanilla sherry-like scents and a full-flavoured, dry orchard fruit palate underscored by fresh acidity. It makes a fine partner for air-dried ham or Comté cheese. Savagnin is the only permitted grape in the regional speciality 'Vin Jaune', that is matured in flor-covered casks (a thin film or voile of yeast tops the wine in cask) for a minimum of 6 years and 3 months before being bottled in squat 62 centilitre clavelins (indicative that only around 62% of the original wine remains after evaporation). Traditionally drunk at ambient temperature as a pre-prandial 'pick-me-up', it has a yeasty baked-bread bouquet and mineral-edged stone-fruit flavours with great complexity and a long finish. It can age almost indefinitely if sympathetically cellared.

V. and J.-C. also make some noteworthy red wines from locally-favoured varieties. Their Poulsard is not unlike a more intense rosé with a brick-red robe, delicate hedgerow berry scents, a supple red fruit core supported by gentle tannins. Its sibling Trousseau is denser and darker with a deeper red colour, more tannic grip and mouth-filling black fruit flavours with peppery undertones. It makes a fine foil to the local Morteau sausage or a coq au vin.

Completing a diverse compendium is a heady, sweet Vin de Paille. It is made from a blend of Savagnin, Poulsard and Chardonnay that are air-dried on bed of straw over the winter until the semi-dried grapes are crushed to release small volumes of concentrated juice. The wine is then raised in barrel for 3 years before being bottled in slim halves. The finished wine is a rich nectar with dried fruit, honey and grilled nut notes. It makes a decadent bonne bouche or partner to fruit-based desserts.

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  1. Jura Arbois: Vin de Paille Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot 2014
    Half Bottle
    £29.50
    Half Bottle (Case)
    £708.00
  2. Jura Arbois: Poulsard Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot 2019
    Bottle
    £14.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £179.40
  3. Yapp Côtes du Rhône Red 2020
    Bottle
    £9.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £119.40
  4. Jura Arbois: Trousseau Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot 2019
    Bottle
    £17.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £215.40
  5. Yapp Rouge 2019
    Bottle
    £9.35
    Bottle (Case)
    £112.20
  6. Yapp Blanc 2020
    Bottle
    £9.35
    Bottle (Case)
    £112.20
  7. Yapp Rosé 2020
    Bottle
    £9.35
    Bottle (Case)
    £112.20
  8. Jura Arbois: Savagnin Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot 2018
    Bottle
    £22.00
    Bottle (Case)
    £264.00
  9. Crémant du Jura: Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot
    Bottle
    £17.25
    Bottle (Case)
    £207.00
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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!