For years the Jura remained a blind spot on my wine radar. About ten years ago I followed your very basic wine course which was more about drinking than actually learning anything. I was ticked off that I had to miss the one class on regions that I knew nothing about, Jura and Savoie, but quickly forgot about it. A couple of years later, when I was getting more and more into wine, I came across an invitation for a Jura wine tasting in Antwerp, organized by Terrovin. It turned out to not only be my first real introduction to the wines of the Jura, but also to the world of natural wine. I have visited a lot of tastings over the years, but this is one that stayed with me, because the wines were so different from what I had drunk up until that point. My tasting notes can be summarized by ‘subdued, coolness, crunch, length, stinky, pure, shifting in the glass, and geuze, geuze, geuze’.
Since then however, my interest in the Jura was properly piqued, and even though I have had the opportunity to discover many more wines since then, I still am nowhere near a proper grasp on the region. Scarcity plays a role, although I think that there are a couple of importers who can be considered groundbreaking in this regard, but there is something more. Every time I get the idea in my head that I can relax and assume that I got it, I pass by the Jura winemakers at Dive Bouteille and slap myself for overconfidence. One of these winemakers who regularly manages to surprise me is actually one of the first I met; Etienne Thiebaud, owner of Domaine des Cavarodes. He was present at the Antwerp tasting, but to call our conversation brief would be an overstatement, as the man seems to have a very limited quota of words he can disperse in a day. Nonetheless, contact over the years has been better at la Dive, and a taste of his latest vintage is always one of my first stops.
Five grapes are currently allowed in the Jura, but these are only part of the story. Near the end of the 19th century, there were over 40 varieties commonly associated with the region, but alas, phylloxera as well as the drafting of the AOC rules has condemned the vast majority to the annals of vinous history. Nonetheless, there are still parcels lying around here and there, and these are simply treasure troves; centenarian vines, often neglected for decades so untreated, and affordable for those crazy enough to want to work with them.
Today’s wine, a Vin de Pays de Franche-Comté 2014 is the result of one of these efforts. 1/3 of pinot noir, 1/3 of trousseau and the remaining third consisting of Poulsard, Gamay, Pinot Meunier, Argant, Portugais Bleu, Enfariné and Mézy, the latter being varieties that I assume are not your everyday drink for most readers! Semi-carbonic fermentation gives it freshness, little red berries with ample crunch, yet there is also a tannic structure that needs some time to unwind. It is a perfect wine to drink with these early spring days, refreshing without lacking depth, and surprisingly low in alcohol at only 9.5%, what more do you need for a nice, sunny evening?
Other Jura wines talked about: