Jura Wines: the rising star of France’s vineyards13-02-2017
The diversity of Jura wines has found fame not only in France, but also further afield among importers worldwide, who delight in discovering a new wine region and its wines.
Albeit small in terms of surface area – Jura is France’s smallest wine region in France with only 2,000 hectares – it is great by virtue of its extraordinary diversity, and its vineyards extend along some 80 kilometres (the same as Margaux!).
Producing on its plateaux the whole gamut of wine styles, including white, red and sparkling, the distinctive oxidised vin jaune and vin de paille, the wines exude a plethora of flavours from fresh fruits to saffron, via delicate floral notes and even hints of local walnuts or Comté cheese. Distinctive, generous, tropical, sweet, wild, subtle, delicate, light or powerful, Jura wines boast a terroir that has earned the respect it deserves on the extensive international wine scene. Today, Jura boasts 7 AOC wines including Arbois, arguably its most famous and awarded AOC status in 1936, Côtes du Jura, Etoile, Château Châlon, Crémant, Macvin and Marc du Jura.
Baudouin de Chassey lifts the veil on the specific character of Jura wines: “We have certain techniques that are unique to Jura, which we refer to as wines made “sous voile” – a thin layer of yeast at the surface of the wines. These techniques master the three essential elements of product, region and man to perfection. The climate can be complicated, but in some ways this is key to making wines unique to the Jura region, with soils in which the grape varieties can flourish,” introduces the President of CIVJ, the region’s trade body for Jura Wines. In fact Jura is known more extensively for its light, fruity, highly aromatic and tannin-free wines.
“Our region has a strong identity by virtue of its very capable, expert growers, blessed with skills unique to this region. To be a successful grower in the Jura, you would need to be an excellent grower anywhere else,” adds Baudouin de Chassey.
The other distinctive feature of Jura is the proportion of organic wines produced, which at 20% is much higher than the average 9% in other French winemaking regions.
“It is easier to find our wines in New York than Paris”
The good news for anyone keen to try Jura wines is that 2016 is a great vintage. “Production should be around 85,000hl” compared to just under 75,000hl in 2015. That’s enough bottles to satisfy an ever-increasing demand, now coming from all over the world. For consumption of Jura wine is by no means restricted to the region. Exports are on the rise, and accounted for 13% of total sales in 2015 compared to only 4% in 2011, and successfully too thanks to the commitment of the CIVJ to invest in new markets via promotional actions.
“We are aware of Jura’s increasing appeal in foreign markets. It is easier to find our wines in New York than Paris,” commented Baudouin de Chassey.
Outside North America, it is currently the Northern countries with a thirst for Jura wines; the greatest export being Cremant de Jura, which for the last harvest represented more than 50% of all export sales. It is a flagship product serving as an effective gateway to the rest of the range.
Food pairing with Jura wines
For this gastronomic haven, the possibilities are as varied as the wines themselves. There are the obvious favourites such as the local classic delicacy of chicken, vin jaune and morello mushrooms (see recipe), and the red wines are often paired with local sausage from Morteau or Montbeliard.
“We have also worked on matching our wines with Asian cuisine. These are spicy dishes and when we put the two together, it works really well. I am thinking in particular of blue crab for example…”
Recipe: Chicken in vin jaune and morello mushrooms
- 1 Bresse chicken cut into pieces
- 1 onion, ½ bottle of Jura white wine (Floral Chardonnay – non-oxidised)
- 40g dried morel mushrooms
- 80cl double cream
- 10cl vin jaune
- 1 tsp corn starch
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Soak the mushrooms in warm water (not boiling) for 2 hrs. Meanwhile brown the chicken pieces in olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the finely chopped onion, salt and pepper. Allow the chicken pieces to gently golden and then deglaze the pan with the white wine. Cover and leave for 1 hr.
- Once soaked, remove the mushrooms and wash carefully, setting aside the mushroom liquid. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any impurities.
- Transfer the strained liquid to a saucepan, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 mins. Add the fresh cream, season and leave to cook further for approx. 20 mins.
- When ready to serve, place the corn starch in a saucepan, add a ladle of fresh cream and stir vigorously while bringing to the boil. Stir until the sauce displays a lovely creamy consistency and season as required. When the sauce is ready, remove from the heat and add the vin jaune.
- Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving dish, pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately with a potato and Comté cheese gratin or plain rice.
In 2012, the CIVJ launched a competition aimed at students specialising in bartending to invent cocktails using Macvin. Here is one of the recipes:
The Secrets of “Marnes Blanches” with Macvin and Cremant de Jura
For 1 cocktail
40ml red Macvin, 15ml Spiced Berry Cordial, 30ml raspberry purée, 3 or 4 fresh mint leaves, 15ml Martini rosé, Cremant de Jura, 2 raspberries.
- Pour all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.
- Transfer to a cocktail glass and top up with Cremant de Jura.
- Garnish with mint leaves and two raspberries.