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I remember when I first started developing a true appreciation of wine, and it coincides with the general time frame here at Chambers Street when our good friend and manager extraordinaire (back what... 10 years ago?), Sophie Barrett, was introducing our readers to the distinct and little-known wines of the Jura - a hilly, sleepy region in Eastern France.
All the wines from all the producers were available on our shelves, and a small but VERY committed group of "wine geeks" would delight in the selection and stock up on funky Poulsards and oxidative Savagnins. There was a mystique around Jura wines, as they were not hyped or really known outside of certain small circles.
Now, times have changed (and to think we saw tariffs as the bad news of 2020!), with higher prices, and smaller allocations, and it's been a long time since we were able to offer some of today's wines online. 2018 was a healthy and relatively plentiful vintage (finally!) in the Jura, and everything we've tasted - in France and stateside - has been balanced, acid driven and very classic for the region. Previous vintages were quite good if there were enough grapes to make wine. Many winemakers had to raise prices or harvest grapes elsewhere (Alice Bouvot of Domaine L'Octavin is particularly prolific as you will see) in order to get by, so there are some non-Jura wines here (quelle horreur!), but we've noted the grapes and region of origin on each one.
We know you're all still hunting for a bottle of Overnoy, sorry we can't deliver on that front, but we hope you find something you like in this offer!
PS> I would like to direct some small amount of attention to the sparkling wines of the Jura - in this case of Stephane Tissot and Domaine des Marnes Blanches, which I think are truly exceptional, and arguably some of the best non-Champagne sparkling wines in all of France.
"Patchwork" is made from 100% Chardonnay (from clonal and massale seection vines) picked from various clay and limestone parcels in Tissot's estate. He typically raises this cuvée for 12 months in both neutral and 10% new oak barrels, which are topped up to give a fresher, more Burgundian style to the Chardonnay.
100% Chardonnay from vines planted in the 1970s. Tank fermented, elevage in barrel. No dosage and rests on the lees for two years before being disgorged. A radiant but substantial color of dry, golden grass with a long lasting, frothy crown. The nose has a savory element of baked lemon tart, with an accent of apricot. On the palate, there are flavors of lemon, lime, and a hint of spicy white pepper. The wine crackles on the tongue with strong sparky bubbles, but has some density and texture. Floats with ease between two contrasting styles, one being rich, the other being zippy. Well placed, right in the middle. David Hatzopoulos
"Mamette" is 100% Chardonnay from 30 year-old organic vines planted in clay and limestone soils in Pupillin. Incredibly mineral and beautifully textured, this is a complex wine at a fantastic value. If drinking now, allow some time for the aromas to open up and you will be rewarded with vibrant notes of lemon pith, salty Comté cheese, hazelnuts and stone. The body is rich with fresh flavors of ripe, yellow fruits, nectarine, and salt on the mid-palate. The finish is intensely mineral and gratifying. A delicious wine to pair with oysters, Thai curry, or by itself. Amanda Bowman
Hand harvested Savagnin from a lieu-dit called "La Pierre." Located in a cool site 400 meters above sea level and planted to clay, limestone and sandy marl soils. Vine age is 30 years old. This was fantastic over the course of 2 days, showing waxy creaminess, and a long, balanced mineral finish. An exceptional bottle of Savagnin, clearly exhibiting the density and length that Savagnin can attain, less expressive of the oxidative notes that can develop. A fine Ouillé Savagnin, and a perfect introduction to the fabulous whites from Loreline Labord.
The grapes for this Savagnin were picked by hand from organically farmed vineyards, rooted in marl and calcareous soils. After 8 hours of skin-contact, the wine is fermented in barrel. The nose fits the bill for those seeking mature fruit (soft apple, pear, and dried lemon) with hints of salt, spice, and smoke. But if we’re talking structure, the wine is lightning fresh. The mouthwatering acidity boosts the orchard fruit on the palate with essences of green herbs, dry honey, tea and salinity.
Ludwig Bindernagel, a favorite of ours from the Jura, currently works with the newly-minted Lulu label. However, when he first came to the region in the early 2000s, he produced wines as Les Chais du Vieux Bourg, the domaine he had purchased. ‘BB1,’ though it may sound technical, or even scientific, stands for ‘Baby One,’ as it was the first cuvée Lulu ever created. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Savignin, and produced in a topped-up, or ouille, style. On both the nose and palate, aromas and flavors of roasted apple, spiced pear, dried apricot and pepper boast of the wine's warm profile. In contrast, the mouthfeel is clean and refreshing, with a driving mineral tone. David Hatzopoulos
'Nature' is the name for Savagnin from days long gone. The grapes are harvested by hand from vineyards on blue and gray marl soils. Most vines are 20 years of age, but some are over 100 years old. Natural fermentation and bottled unfiltered. The nose is salty and fresh, with green herbs and lemon. The palate has clean white pepper, apple, and lemon zest. David Hatzopoulos
From the Mailloche vineyard in Arbois. Mostly Chardonnay, with about 25% Savagnin. 2 months of whole cluster maceration, and aging in barrels for 6 months.
This is a blend of Muscat d'Alexandrie and Muscat Petit Grains (half/half), from a small commune south of Perpignan in the Roussillon. 2 weeks whole cluster maceration.
Riesling grapes from our friend Philippe Brand in Alsace. 15 days of whole cluster maceration.
Viognier from the south of Beaujolais. Direct press.
From Stéphane Tissot's Biodynamic vineyard in Arbois, named for Stéphane's father, Andre "DD" Tissot. This is a delicious blend of Trousseau, Poulsard, and Pinot Noir co-fermented in 2000L foudres. Serve slightly chilled and enjoy with a variety of cheeses, roasted chicken, or on its own! Tasted with Stepphane last winter this showed beautifully, perhaps the best vintage of DD yet, don't miss it!
This is a quaffable style of Trousseau, perfect decanted and served with a light chill. "Le Ginglet," loosely translated, means "easy to drink,' and the wine is precisely that: light on its feet, and extremely easy to drink. The 2018 Ginglet is the only Bornard I tasted from this offer, aside from the Pet Nat, and it was classic. At opening, the unmistakable Jura funk that is a bit of reduction mixed with some secret ingredient, is present, but within a half hour, its showing you how natural wine should be done. This is a layered and complex wine, albeit not cheap, but the work of a Jura master.
All of Ludwig Bindernagel’s wines are fermented naturally and see very little sulfur during the winemaking process. The strain of pinot noir used in this bottling is known as savagnin noir and is unique to the slopes of the Jura, though there are very few parcels of it left. The grapes were hand harvested from massale selected vines grafted to pre-phelloxera rootstock. The vineyards are planted on marl and calcareous soils. Its a rather rustic wine, with woodsy aromas of smoke and black cherry, and flavors of blackberry, cherry, dark flowers and a hint of roasted meat. Pair this pinot with roasts of white or red meat and starchy root vegetables. David Hatzopoulos
Co-planted Pinot Noir and Trousseau. Manually harvested and destemmed grapes then go through semi-carbonic maceration. The nose has very plush red fruits (raspberry, cherry) and freshly tilled, dark earth. The palate is engaging, with dusty tannin around a core of fresh berries. Flavors on the tongue are of plum, blackberry, and black cherry. David Hatzopoulos
Ratte describes Les Corvées as being the best site in all of Arbois to plant Trousseau. This grape is also an almost forgotten type, known as Trousseau à la Dame. The grapes are de-stemmed, ferment naturally, and the wine ages in stainless, besides a small portion being aged for a few months in barrel to enhance the wine's texture. On the nose, there are red forest fruits, baking spice, and woodsy hints of maple and birch. Coffee, pepper, and subtle flavors of licorice join red and black cherry fruit on the palate. David Hatzopoulos
The Clairets make what we would consider "natural" wine, yet varietal character (and terroir) seem to shine through so vividly. This is classic Trousseau, with dark, velvety, flower petal notes on the nose, sweet, high-toned berry fruits, balanced by a hint of funk, and blackberry fruit and seeds. Les Corvées is high altitude vineyard on terroir of clay and limestone. Decant and serve lightly chilled.
"Cul du Brey" is a blend of equal parts Trousseau, Petit Béclan, and Syrah from selection massale vines planted in limestone scree and gray marl. The grapes are de-stemmed by hand and put into vat for semi-carbonic maceration for three weeks. Pascal suggests against aeration or long decants.
From the "En Curon" parcel. Poulsard, destemmed, with 2 months maceration.
The Trousseau. "Les Corvées" parcel, which is considered a very good parcel for Trousseau. Destemmed grapes, 2 months maceration.
The Trousseau. "Les Corvées" parcel, which is considered a very good parcel for Trousseau. Destemmed grapes, 2 months maceration.
Mostly Merlot (85%), from Carcassonne, with Molette and Muscat finishing the blend. 30 days of whole cluster maceration.
Cofermentation of whole cluster grapes for 30 days. 50% Gamay from Beaujolais and 50% Chardonnay from Bugey.
A base of Carignan (88%) with a touch of Muscat, Viognier, and Molette (?), from Remi Poujol's estate. The Carignan sees 20 days of whole cluster maceration.
All Gamay from the estate of Raphael Beysang in Beaujolais. 45 days of whole cluster maceration.
Grenache from the Southern Rhone, near Orange. 3 weeks of whole cluster maceration.
The Crémant rosé from Stéphane Tissot’s biodynamic estate in Arbois is fantastically refined, structured, and fully-dry. This is a blend of directly-pressed Pinot Noir, Trousseau, and a bit of Poulsard. The robe shows a vibrant pink hue with orange flecks in the glass. The nose offers aromas of crushed raspberries, delicate quince, orange blossom, and ripe strawberries. The palate is lush and fruit-forward, yet dry with a fine mousse, minerals, and subtle notes of brown spice. We love this sparkler for its ability to strike a perfect balance between complexity and easy enjoyment. This is unequivocally the Champagne of beers of Crémant. Amanda Bowman
An abiding staff favorite from Stéphane Tissot's biodynamic estate in Arbois, this crémant is a blend of 55% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 10% Poulsard and Trousseau. The interplay between the dry, mineral complexity and rich generosity make this an incredible Champagne-alternative. Opulent aromas of raw honey and baked red apple lead to flavors of tangy yellow fruit, crisp apple, toasted almond, and quince on the persistent finish. Amanda Bowman
This is a stellar 100% Pinot Noir, traditional method sparkler from the Jura. 2017 proved difficult in the Jura, and the other grapes (both red and white) that would have gone into this bottle of bubbly were destroyed before reaching maturity, which left only Pinot for the wine. With most of the base wine matured in barrel, the wine is unfined, unfiltered and contains zero added S02. The grapes are all grown with Demeter-certified practices and the wines are made with very low intervention. The nose is spicy, with apple and pear aromas. The palate is a mix of flavors, ranging from pear to zesty cherry skin. A truly special sparkling from our friends in the Jura.
We thought it was cider! But it's Chardonnay. Definitely not the going price for a Pet-Nat, but the pure Chardonnay sparkler is singular and quite charming. Worth a try for bubble lovers.
This bottle of sparkling from Marnes Blanches is one of our favorites. This is 100% Chardonnay, coming from Les Molates, a parcel that the estate also uses to produce a great still white. This bubbly is a Brut Nature, with primary fermentation happening in tank, and then 18 months on the lees before being disgorged. We've all tasted this wine a lot at the shop, and our supplier sums up the taste profile very well: "Classic, chiseled, crémant. Notes of honeysuckle, sea spray, and green herbs and a long, persistent finish."
From Lulu Bindernagel, one of our favorite producers in the Jura right now. This is 100% Savignin from Les Vernois in the Côtes du Jura AOC. The grapes are hand harvested from a slope with southern exposure. Soil is calcareous marl. This is small production, with only 900 bottles having been released. Fermentation is natural, with no sulfur added, and the wine lives 8 years (2 years more than the required 6 years for Vin Jaune) under the layer of yeast called "voile."