Domaine des Marnes Blanches

9/18/15 -

(Pauline Fromont. Photo: Guilhaume Gerard)

The Sud Revermont area of the Jura has become a small hub for terroir-driven, natural wines that more than titillate the palate. Beginning with the renowned Jean-Francois Ganevat, the philosophy for making wines of nature and terroir has spread to his neighbors Peggy and Jean-Pascal Buronfosse who started their domaine in 2000, and to the nearby village of Saint Agnès where Geraud and Pauline Fromont began Domaine des Marnes Blanches in 2006.

Both native Jurassians (if that’s indeed what they are called), the Fromonts came not from a winemaking background, but from agriculture. Then in their mid-20s, they immediately began farming organically, and are now certified organic by Ecocert. Their domaine covers 10 hectares of vines (some of them being around 100 years old!) spread across three towns in the southern part of the Côtes du Jura AOC: Cesancey, Vincelles, and Ste-Agnès. Cesancey was their first acquisition and is home to the white marl soils for which the domaine is named while the vineyards in the other towns have various types of soils, the majority being red marl and gryphées –limestone rich in fossils. All of their parcels are vinified separately, an idea that is long practiced in neighboring Burgundy, yet relatively unexplored in the Jura, offering a new perspective on the region. All vineyard work is done by hand, save for sporadic tilling of the soil at the base of the vines with a custom-designed tractor that goes in between each individual vine to combat weeds. Where a parcel of old vines once stood, Geraud is currently in the process of growing approximately two hectares more of Trousseau, a grape he considers best suited for this marl-heavy terroir. Here the small, red stones that lay around the baby vines absorb heat throughout the day and retain that heat for the night protecting them from frosts and he does not water the vines to encourage the roots to grow deep into the earth.

Geraud Fromont in a parcel of young Trousseau vines. Photo: Guilhaume Gerard

The Fromonts have two cellars on their property, one dedicated to ouillé (topped-up) wines, the other to the traditional sous voile wines the Jura is known for. The former is a newer facility, filled with stainless steel tanks and neutral casks of various sizes. The latter is a 200-year-old farmhouse that they have converted into a three-story cellar that also contains their tasting room. Windows on each end allows for warm air to pass through each level in the summer, and different levels of humidity on each floor make for conditions that flor can flourish in. All wines are allowed to ferment naturally, and sulfur additions are minimal making for pure, vibrant wines that deserve a place on your dinner table and in your cellar.

Besides Geraud and Pauline being incredibly pleasant people (and equally great chefs: for lunch on a visit this summer we were treated to what I would equate as the Jura’s answer to turducken), they are extremely talented, ambitious winemakers that deserve your attention.  Quantities are very limited, so don’t delay! Tim Gagnon


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