EXPLORING THE WINES OF JURA
In the eastern region of France, just touching the Swiss border, lies the tiny region of Jura. Its 200 estates account for less than 1% of France's national wine production, yet this area has an outsized reputation that's well-deserved! Today we're featuring two wines, a chardonnay and a poulsard, from one of the region's most respected biodynamic producers, followed by two American takes on another iconic Jura grape: trousseau, white and red.
Domaine Tissot Chardonnay Arbois AOC "Patchwork" 2014 - CERTIFIED BIODYNAMIC
Country: FRANCE / Region: JURA / Appellation: ARBOIS AOC / Varietal(s): CHARDONNAY --- "When you’re biodynamic, you have a different life in your vines, in your grapes, and in this way, you can make very easy wine. It leads you." Those are the words Stéphane Tissot lives by, having worked biodynamically since 2004, and with his wife, Bénédicte, striving to express the character of the Jura terroir above all else. The Tissot family has been producing wine in the Jura since 1962, with Stéphane and Bénédicte taking the reins from his parents, André and Mireille, and acquiring a formidable reputation as being among the region's top winemakers. Arbois is a commune located within Jura, about 30 miles west of Switzerland. It's an insular area that specializes in unique renditions of chardonnay and savagnin for white wines, as well as pinot noir, trousseau and aromatic ploussard (aka poulsard) for reds. Fuller-bodied and dry, the Patchwork chardonnay comes from a blend of parcels planted on clay or limestone. Stéphane uses the blend to balance the fruit elements before aging in neutral oak and 10% new barrel to retain freshness. (Unlike some of the other white wines from the region, Patchwork is not an oxidized wine.) A chardonnay with personality to spare, this is a serious white, combining a briny tang, lip-smacking acidity, and luscious citrus and tropical fruits with a touch of creamy, buttery texture on the finish! An opulent partner to strong cheeses, or arctic char with cream and mushroom sauce.
Wind Gap Trousseau Gris Russian River Valley Fannuchi-Wood Road Vineyard 2015 - ORGANICALLY GROWN
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY / Varietal(s): TROUSSEAU GRIS --- We had the great fortune of visiting Pax Mahle at his winery a few years ago. He is truly one of the rock stars of California winemaking and we were honored he agreed to spend time with us explaining his philosophy. Mahle uses only native yeasts in his wines and frequently ferments his whites in egg-shaped cement tanks as he has done with this trousseau gris. The grape (a grey-skinned mutation of the darker trousseau noir) is most frequently found in the Jura region of France, but does have a strong history in California. The 2015 trousseau gris is being acclaimed as the best vintage of this grape since 2012! Brushed with the slightest hint of color from brief contact with its namesake grey skins, the skin contact also lends the wine some interesting weight on the palate. This is an absolute delight to drink: fragrant with spice and mineral, it's clean, showing lemon-y, green apple flavors. Exotic fresh fruit and brilliant zesty acidity make it ideal for sipping all year long, but it excels with warm weather fare like oysters. It's also perfect for black bean quesadillas garnished with plenty of queso fresco.
Domaine Tissot Arbois AOC Poulsard Vieilles Vignes 2015 - NATURAL WINE
Country: FRANCE / Region: JURA / Appellation: ARBOIS AOC / Varietal(s): POULSARD --- Poulsard is one of France's grapes deserving of far more acclaim than it usually gets - especially when it's made by one of the Tissots. 2015 was an excellent year for Stéphane (and many other growers in Jura), and he says this may be his favorite poulsard to date. Sourced from three parcels of 45- to 90-year-old vines planted in clay soils, it is fermented with only native yeasts, with no sulfur ever added. Sophisticated, pure fruit, and vibrant, crunchy minerality make this a winner on every front. Smoky berries, blood orange, juicy red plum and iron notes on the palate are well supported by structured tannins, making this a heavenly pairing with heartier meats or charcuterie.
Forlorn Hope Trousseau Noir Calaveras County Rorick Vineyard 2015 - ORGANICALLY GROWN
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: CALAVERAS COUNTY / Varietal(s): TROUSSEAU NOIR --- Named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of its Winemakers to Watch a few years ago, Matthew Rorick is standout even among his peers. A man of seemingly tireless energy, Rorick is a supreme experimenter. Rorick worries little about exactly how the wines will turn out, focusing more on the process, and allowing the wines to reveal their individual personalities along the way. An iconic grape of the Jura (also grown in Portugal, where it is named bastardo), trousseau noir is little known elsewhere, but was once a part of California's viticultural traditions. Widely planted in the Sierra Foothills pre-Prohibition, this first vintage from Forlorn Hope marks the start of a revival. Grown on the schist and limestone soils of the Rorick Vineyard at 2,000 feet elevation in Calaveras County, grapes were hand picked and whole cluster fermented in open-top vessels. Pressed off the skins at 14 days and aged 6 months in neutral 500L puncheons, its deceptively pale hue belies the complex aromas and flavors within! Its fluidity and dark perfumed floral aromas are reminiscent of pinot noir, but trousseau has a captivating character all its own of a more bucolic, outdoorsy nature. Bright and savory, and possessed of a lightness that contrasts deliciously with its backbone of firm tannin, this is a delicious match with grilled chai-rubbed pork chops.