The Loss of Cool: The Jura Grows up

By Gabriel Weinstock |

Neat Pour’s hipster youthful sommelier tilts at windmills in the wine world for your enjoyment and edification:

If you still thinks that the Jura is your little, dirty, natty wine secret, you need to figure out a new strategy to impress at your next dinner party. The mystery has been solved and prices are rising on the wines coming out of the region’s four appellations: Arbois, Château-Chalon, l’Etoile, and Côtes du Jura. If Bordeaux is for the the rich, elderly and hospice bound , the Jura is quickly becoming wine for the rich, hip and impressionable–like people that really believe in Urban Outfitters. (This is unfortunate because I love the Jura and I continue to buy all of my jeans at Urban Outfitters.) My crush on these flavors and authenticity runs deep.

Steeped in tradition and completely bound to terroir and geography, Jura wine is like the rebellious child of Burgundy and Switzerland. These wines look similar but they don’t act the same: Jura is always getting caught smoking weed underneath the bleachers.You will find many of the same varietals used in Burgundian wines, but Jura is colder than Burgundy, giving the juice some of the qualities of Swiss alpine wines. Juras have the ability to be both sweet and savory, resulting in their distinct gastronomic quality. This is most apparent in wines made from the grape, Savignin – the real rebel yell of the Jura, also used to make the infamous vin de juane or  “yellow wine”. The process is most closely related to sherry production in Spain – in which a veil of “flor” (film of yeast) is allowed to develop over the maturing wine.

However, in a few years this kid might be getting sent to reform school–as Burgundian producers encroach on the region (Domiane Marquis d’Angerville recently bought Jacques Puffeney). But before the Jura becomes some bizarro version of the musical Grease; in which the squares are cool and the greasers are nerds, I suggest you drink up, because pretty soon, you won’t be worried about the cost – you’ll be worried about how wildly uncool you look drinking it. And now, a very haphazard list of wines that will still make you look cool:

 

Domaine André et Mireille Tissot — Bénédicte et Stéphane Tissot, Crémant du Jura, Extra Brut. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Poulsard, and Trousseau. Côtes du Jura, FR. NV

Domaine André et Mireille Tissot’s wines have confidence and playfulness, like the soundtrack to a super awesome coming of age movie. It drinks fresh but it has the courage of a vintage wine. On the nose there are baked goods, like brownies and gingerbread – but there is a certain “Richard Curtis rom-com” vibe: christmas trees, maple syrup and a smile that almost tears your face off. On the palate it starts to look a lot more like the movie Blue Crush, specifically, when the little sister gets caught sneaking out to meet an older dude at that impossibly cool skate party. It defies expectations; super-soaking your face with a foamy umami salt water ocean spray. Like that same sister–who is on track to be a pro surfer–this estate is holding fast to traditional wine roots, while keeping expansion in mind. They are the largest biodynamic producer in the Jura and export 40% of their production. Keeping with the atypical nature of Jura wines, this wine has savory qualities that challenge our expectations of sparkling wines, which often make my nose feel like it is going to explode. Despite the fact that sparkling wines are often relegated to oyster dinners and as an aperitif/digestif roles, I think this Cremant du Jura could slay fatty but light seafood entrees like Alaskan salmon. Tissot is owning quality and quantity, proving that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

 

Les Granges Paquenesses, ‘La Pierre’. Savagnin. Côtes du Jura, FR. 2015

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Yeah probably–through a crack pipe in the middle of the night with some kids you just met. Loreline Laborde, the winemaker behind this truly captivating wine hopefully has the capital to tell anyone encroaching on her business to fuck off. Jill Souble’s “Supermodel” may seem like a strange cry to arms, but it’s the only one that is currently making sense to me, especially after Jacques Puffeney decided to retire. The regions eccentricities run deep in its amalgamation of acidity and brine. Laborde works hard and independently in the vineyard–with hands and horse–farming completely biodynamically. The vineyard that produces this wine is colder than the others at 400 meters resulting in a wine with a beautiful minerality. I’ve drank three bottles of this wine (not before writing this) and every time I drain the bottle I want to start playing Elliot Smith;finishing one is like the come down from a really, really good night when you actually believe hangovers don’t exist. This wine is not, but should be, a staple of Jura wine. It has all the savory qualities with the citrus to back it up–like a schoolyard brawl gone completely right. Les Granges Paquenesses has my attention and I’d meet Loreline Laborde after school anytime–to ask her out while she is beating me up.

 

Jacques Puffeney, ‘Arbois Blanc’. Savagnin. Arbois, FR. 2012

It seems like Jacques Puffeney could literally have been born off the vines in Jura, like some Greek myth. That would be a fitting origin story for a career that earned him the nickname, “The Pope of Jura’. He is a second generation winemaker who miraculously made his first wine at only 17-years-old. In part, this pedigree is why his retirement from commercial winemaking in 2014 marked such a meaningful shift in the region. (There is hope; he still owns the rights to his family name along with a small area of 40-year-old Trousseau and Savignin vines, from which they will produce around 2,000 bottles per year.)

Puffeneys, 2012, ‘Arbois Blanc’ truly captures the miracle that is Savignin. Savignin is volatile: it can take forever to ripen (often into November) and grows best in poor soils. This wine has the tenacity of Puffeney’s experience in both vines and cave. You know that kid growing up that was way cooler than you because they were different and you weren’t brave enough to be? But, maybe they inspired you to better yourself and read Kafka or something? That’s this wine. On the nose, it has a nearly oxidative quality–closer to the nutty aromas of Madeira and Manzanilla sherry–but on the palate it opens up into something more citrusy, mixed with Thanksgiving. Arbois Blanc’s many dualities make it so compelling. It’s like the song, ‘Rebel Girl’ by Bikini Kill. Jacques Puffeney’s wines started something in the Jura. Something that made people start listening. If the region is truly being co-opped by Burgundy, I hope that Puffeney will come out of retirement and start the revolution.

Photo by Guido Radig [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Common

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