Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jura Tasting

Chambers Street Wines held a Jura tasting in the beginning of March. They poured a sparkling wine, four reds, five whites, and a dessert wine. What a perfect way to explore these unique wines without having to shell out the $18 - 75 it would cost to try the bottles myself.

I've had very little experience drinking these wines at home. My past includes exactly one Jura red (2002 Pierre Overnoy Arbois Pupillin - my notes say that I didn't like it) and a couple of Crémants - love 'em. But clearly you agree with me when I say that I am a newborn baby when it comes to these wines. And it's time for me to grow up.

So I will now reveal myself as an uncool wine person among the wine-geek set: as much as I wanted to like them, I just didn't like the reds, none of them. Not even a little bit. Alright, maybe the 2004 Puffeney Arbois Pinot Noir, $27, was okay, but I just don't see what all the fuss is about.

But the whites, now those were tasty and compelling. I liked them enough to bring two of them home to meet my family, and I will definitely explore them further.

You probably know this already, but there are a few particularly interesting things about Jura whites. For one, some of the most famous wines are made from a grape called Savagnin, found almost nowhere else. And the prevailing style of wine is known as sous -voile, or under the veil. Wine makers allow a layer of yeast to form on the surface of the wine and then do not top up the barrels as the wine evaporates. The aromas and flavors are oxidized, and are quite unusual. Eric Asimov's recent post on the Jura eloquently describes all of this, if you want more context.

Here are the wines we tasted:
NV Tissot Crémant du Jura, $19 - still delish, a former Friday Night Bubbles contestant.

2005 Puffeney Arbois Trousseau, $30.
2004 Tissot Arbois Poulsard, $18.
2004 Puffeney Arbois Pinot Noir, $27.
2005 Ganevat Pinot Noir, $30.

Whites 2004 Montbourgeau L'Etoile Blanc, $21 - tastes like sherry, but better than any sherry I've had. This one came home with us. This is Chardonnay, actually.
2006 Houillon Pupillon Chardonnay, $28 - nice, but didn't move me.
2002 Puffeney Arbois Savagnin, $29 - deeply nutty.
2002 Tissot Arbois Savagnin, $32 - this one moved me - old and oxidized and fresh and young and just delicious. We took a bottle home.
1998 Puffeney Arbois Vin Jaune, $75 - I wish I could tell you that this was mind-blowing, but it wasn't. Maybe that's because conventional wisdom says that Vin Jaune needs 15-20 years in the bottle to strut its stuff. Why couldn't they have opened a 1978 Puffeney Vin Jaune? A joke, people, a joke. If you had that bottle in your cellar, would you honestly open it for a bunch of nincompoops like me who have never even tasted a Vin Jaune? Pearls before swine. The 98 was certainly very good, but it was hard for me to imagine what happens in 20 years.

We drank the 2002 Tissot Arbois Savagnin the other night in classic fashion - with a good Comté cheese. And this time we had plenty of time to linger, to allow the wine to change in the glass, to feel it interacting with food, to enjoy it over the course of a few hours. It was just excellent. Unusual, not something I would want every week, but excellent and memorable. At the same time funky-sherry-nutty-oxidized and old smelling, but also completely fresh, pure, and youthful. Very bright energetic in the mouth. There some caramel type flavors that develop with time in the glass, and they complement the slightly bitter nuts. The acidity is definitely there, it tingles the sides of the tongue.

I'm not sure how to move forward in the Jura, but if it's going to involve Vin Jaune, I'm going to need a benefactor. Anyone want to be my Vin Jaune sugar daddy? And don't yell at me about the reds, I'll try again at some point.


Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of the Tissot wines - and I've gotten to taste their lineup a good three plus times now.

Since reading about Jura wines in The Art of Eating, I've been intrigued by them. But as for having old Jura, getting them is tough. Okay, I sort of cheated...two summer's ago my friend Derrick (Obsession with Food) was staying in Bandol/Provence area. He allocated me 4 bottles of space in the two 12-pack styros he took over... I found a wine store in France that had a selection of older vintages; I bought the four oldest bottles - two 1967 Vin Jaune, plus a 1945 Arbois (pinot noir I believe - the cheapest bottle due to a poor fill) and, the most expensive ($85), a 1959 Vichot-Girod from the Château-Chalon appellation.

Nah, I haven't opened any yet. Maybe this summer. And, I can't decide whether to open them all at the same time, along with an assortment of 1993-1996 Puffeney that I've slowly acquired from Winebid.

Joe said...

Hmm, despite your negative review I now want to try one of the reds (we have some '05s here, maybe those are better?). Loved the only Jura I ever had, a Tissot (but not the Savagnin - nearly sold out here). FYI - in this rare instance prices are better in Montreal. You should bring the wife and kid up for Jazzfest and we can go shopping!

Anonymous said...

I am not going to lambaste you :), but I really enjoy the Tissot reds-the Poulsard, but also the Trousseau. I just find them refreshingly herbal and savory and delicious. They are strange, though.

Brooklynguy said...

hey jack - how is that cheating? that's just smart. hard to say how to open them. i would probably open them one at a time swith a special meal, and savor them slowly.

hey joe - i honestly didn't even mean it as negative, as much as an account of a first step. i would need to taste more and differently - with food, to really say anything. be careful when mentioning jazzfest in montroyale to me, i've done that before and i'd love to go again.

hey brian - how did you get into them, though? at a tasting or over a meal? i'm willing to explore further, of course.

Lyle Fass said...


Did you taste the Montbourgeau Vin de Paille? We poured that too and it is mindblowing plus the Montbourgeau people make better Vin Jaune than Puffeney and it is cheaper.

Brooklynguy said...

hi lyle - i did taste that, and the wife and I both LOVED it. I don't know why I didn't include it in the notes. $52 for a half bottle, right? And I was wishing that it had been the Montbourgeau vin jaune you guys opened. I like their wines in general.

Anonymous said...

Brooklynguy --
don't give up on Jura wines! while it does take a unique palate & stomach to drink these wines, they are by far one of the most unique food wines i've ever had in my entire life. my husband & i were fortunate enough to have gone to the Jura region this past February for the "Percee du Vin Jaune" festival. all i can say is that, that trip left me with uber amounts of respect & love for the winemakers of that region. it was a true honor to have been present as they pierced (percee) the wine from 6 years, 3 months previous.

our favorites by far have been: **trouseaus & poulsard from Jean Marc Brignot. he has some amazing whites (chardonney & sauvignin), also, but none of them have made it the states (except by us!).
**chardonney, poulsard & vin jaune from Pierre Overnoy & Emmanuel Houillon are also top on our list.

granted, we have a special place in our hearts for natural wines in particular, which is why we only visited those vineyards that were exactly that, but if you can get your hands on any of these wines, it just "might" make you change your mind about the Jura region.

i love pretty much all the cremants from Jura also. we brought one back that was so crisp, acidic and dry, that some fellow friends of ours that partook in some of that bubbly with us said it reminded them of copper pennies - strange, i know, but so delicious at the same time. (i can't remember the producer now, if your interested, write back, since i have all the info at home)

all & all, i can only say don't give up! who knows maybe your pallete might change and you'll be able to savor these wines one day, and also perhaps you'll have found that vin jaune sugar daddy or mommy to help you out also, hah!

to the person (sorry forgot your s/n) who was inquiring about what to pair these wines with or when to pop them open -- this is just my humble opinion, but i wouldn't open these up unless you had a special meal planned. they're not cheap wines & your stomach might thank you if you had something else in there along for the ride.

we had 2 Vin Jaune celebration dinners when we returned and made chicken & morels in a vin jaune cream sauce as the main entree and started off the meal with a wonderful array of charcuterie that paired beautifully with the poulsard.

you can take a look, if you like, at some pics we took from our trip & of our celebration meals here:
and here:

take care for now,
kid brody