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Intro: Jura

CÔTES-DU-JURA, L’ETOILE AND CHÂTEAU-CHALON

Jura is an area that we have extensively researched over recent years and we are delighted to list wines from nine top class growers, including three new domaines this year. It is one of the only areas where young vignerons can rent older vines at a reasonable price, likewise houses and cellars and then have a good chance of selling at a price which earns them a living. There’s a feel of the wild-west about the region as the best terroirs for topped up wines are only now being discovered, the area’s previous fame having been based upon oxidative wines aged under a flor of yeast.

 

From Loreline Laborde’s les Granges Pâquenesses we offer a little poulsard and trousseau, a great value topped up chardonnay, and a topped up savagnin from the fine, deep marl terroir of Arbois Pupillin. Loreline is dynamic plus, in her late twenties, working her 2.5 hectares of vineyards with no help, except from her horse for ploughing. Her cave is meticulous - she ages her wines in three to five year old barrels and her wines have incredible elegance and finesse. She has converted half of the building that she rents into a rural gîte, tends a herd of goats and flock of chickens in her ‘spare’ time, and is pretty well self sufficient. She also had a baby one week before the 2014 harvest, but simply put her baby into a sling whilst she carried on her work!

 

Ludwig Bindernagel worked as an architect in Paris until he changed track and moved to the Jura. After learning his craft with Julien Labet, he started to buy the odd small parcel of older vines in L’Etoile and Château-Chalon on the rare occasions that these became available. However Ludwig’s main interest here was to produce topped up wines to be aged in older barrels. He has a very deep underground cellar where his wines age very slowly, never hurried along by Ludwig. They are exquisitely crafted wines, very subtle, detailed and precise.

 

Domaine Macle has long been famed for producing the best oxidative wines in the region. However they sell more than 97% of their production to loyal private customers and don’t need trade customers. Laurent has been in charge of the domaine for over 20 years, but his parents who are firm believers that savagnin is the king of white grapes still take an active role. The ageing under voile here is so skilled that they are one of the rare domaines in Jura where you can still clearly taste the terroir through the gently oxidative flavours – too often oxidation covers up the terroir. Their Château-Chalon is a wine of legend that they eke out very carefully – nobody can go to the domaine just to buy Château-Chalon! However this is not a problem when the other wines they offer are so good, including a four year old Jura aged under voile, a topped up chardonnay, and Jura’s best Macvin.

 

Julien, brother Romain and sister Charlène now run Domaine Labet. All the wines now come under the Domaine Labet label, but the tiny holdings that Julien previously vinified separately, continue in existence under the name ‘Les Parcelles Rares’. The Labet wines are made from old vines, low yields, no chaptalisation, five to ten year old barrels and are given a full 18 month élevage. They have more interesting flavours and aromatics than many burgundies, and you don’t need to wait for several years whilst new oak integrates. Although demand for Labet wines is extremely strong, sadly our allocations are small and there is very little wine available.

 

The road to establishing Les Dolomies may have been a long haul for Céline Gormally (her husband Steve’s father is Irish, but Steve speaks no english!), but judging by the success they have on various export markets – last time we checked Noma listed 13 of her wines – it was all worth it. Céline’s aim was always to set up on her own, and she started by renting a small 0.5ha parcel in Passenans while working for various Jura producers, including Domaine Labet where Julien Labet was a big influence. There was one minor problem though, she had no cash in the bank and couldn’t afford to take a loan so she approached Terres de Liens, an organization which helps organic farmers set up shop, in this instance by buying the vineyard and leasing it back to Céline – while guaranteeing they would not sell it off for a number of years. Céline also leases individual vines on a three year contract to about 60 families who receive a certain amount of wine each year.

The recent acquisition of some vineyards from Domaine Grand brought the size of the domaine to nearly six hectares (enabling Steve to quit his job and join the domaine full time in 2016). The majority of the vineyards are split between Passenans and Frontenay, and like the Sud Revermont, it’s a fantastic terroir for whites, with good exposure and beautiful marl-rich soils with outcrops of limestone. All the parcels are tended either organically or biodynamically. Wild yeast fermentation is the norm, the whites are whole bunch pressed, fermented and aged in ten year old oak (with a good proportion of demi-muids), unfined and unfiltered. The aim is to eschew the use of sulphur completely, but for the moment Céline adds a little either just before bottling so that there is around 20mg/l total in the white wines.

Neglected for a long time, the Sud Revermont has now put its name firmly on the map thanks in no small part to two outstanding producers: Julien Labet and Jean-François Ganevat. Young aspiring vignerons – Géraud and Pauline Fromont among those – were quick to notice the potential of the area and many of them took full advantage of the availability of good vineyards at fairly inexpensive prices to establish their domaines, transforming the Sud Revermont on the way into a hub for terroir-driven, natural wines with great energy.

Natives of the Jura, both Pauline and Géraud’s families owned tiny plots of vines – but the little time they spent there was enough to give them the wine bug. They met while studying winemaking in Dijon and created Domaine des Marnes Blanches when they returned to the Jura in 2006. They farmed organically from the word go, and have added parcels every year to reach a total of 10ha today, spread across three towns: Cesancey, their first acquisition, is home to the white marl after which the domaine is named, while Vincelles and Ste-Agnes have more varied soil types, the majority being red marl and gryphées – limestone rich in fossils. Wild yeast fermentation is the norm, each parcel is vinified separately in stainless steel and then aged either in old 228 to 600L barrels or in tanks. All the wines we buy are topped up.

Organic & Bio-dynamic

See our list of organic and bio-dynamic growers.
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