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Jura & Savoie

Wink Lorch
Since 1997, the biggest event in the region has been
the Percée du Vin Jaune, which is held over a weekend
in February at a different village each year.

In 2003, it was the turn of the beautiful old

village of Arlay in the Côtes du Jura, with the
focal point being the grand Château d’Arlay,
owned by the Comte de Laguiche. A record-
breaking 50,000 visitors attended, and it
was said that there were more journalists
than there were vignerons exhibiting – and
there were over 60 of them!
The most serious part of the weekend is
WINK LORCH the clavelinage. Named after the distinctive
62-cl clavelin bottle used for vin jaune, the clavelinage is a tasting
competition to find the best vins jaunes. This year, for the first time, the
tasting was run under official EU competition rules and supervised by a
representative from INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine).
Around 60 vins jaunes were submitted, mostly 1995s and 1996s, but with
some going back to 1989, and all four appellations (Château-Chalon, Arbois,
Côtes du Jura, and Etoile) were represented. A maximum of one third of
the entries may become claveliné, and in fact just 17 were given the award,
including two from Henri Maire, the largest négociant in the area.
The most public event was the ceremony of the percée itself, which involves
the symbolic opening of a barrel of vin jaune that has just been released
after its statutory six years and three months of ageing. Thousands of eager
supporters of this strange wine were prepared to stand in the cold, listening

WINK LORCH is a wine writer and educator with a passion for the mountains and a
chalet in the Haute-Savoie. She is chairman of the Association of Wine Educators and
has contributed to several books, including Time-Life’s The Wine Guide, The Global Wine
Encyclopedia, and Le Cordon Bleu’s Wine Essentials. Wink particularly enjoys enthusing
about wines from vineyards in sight of snow-capped mountains, whether the Andes,
the Alps, or the Jura. She divides her time between the UK and the French Alps.

to endless speeches while waiting to be served the first tastes of the ‘new’ ANCIENT VINE Persan seems to have the greater
vintage, which in 2003 was the 1996. On both afternoons, the village of VARIETIES PRESERVED potential. Indeed, the Persan is likely
Arlay thronged with people out to taste and buy the whole range of Jura to be responsible for the Savoie’s
An experimental vineyard has been first premium-priced vin de pays.
wines directly from the producers participating in the event. Make a date established at St-Jean de la Porte, The 2003 vintage should see this
for next year’s celebration in the village of Cramans, on 7–8 February 2004. in the Combe de Savoie, by the eagerly awaited varietal’s revival
Comité Interprofessionnel. Various
Top sommelier champions small producers under the Vin de Pays d’Allobrogie
clones of traditional Savoie varieties appellation from 5 ha of recently
Stéphane Planche, head sommelier of the Michelin two-star restaurant Jean-
have been planted, both those in planted vines on a formerly
Paul Jeunet in Arbois and a great supporter of fine Jura wines, has opened a current use and others that have abandoned slope at Cevins, in the
shop, Les Jardins de St-Vincent, in the centre of Arbois. He sells a selection of all but disappeared. The first harvest Tarentaise valley. Mastermind of
Jura wines from a generally eclectic bunch of smaller producers who do not will be microvinified in 2004. the project is Michel Grisard, the
have their own retail outlets in Arbois, as so many of the large producers Meanwhile, the first vintages of biodynamic producer of Domaine
do. This should introduce a new style of Jura wine to a wider public. two revived grape varieties have Prieuré Saint-Christophe. He is
been launched. One is from a white- amazed by the ripeness levels being
New-style Savagnin wine variety known in Savoie as achieved there even from very young
Increasing numbers of Savagnin white wines are being made using the non- Malvoisie, but generally thought vines. The main red plantings are of
traditional methods of ageing in topped-up vats or barrels. While this might to be the Veltliner Rouge. The other the virtually unknown old Persan
be the norm everywhere else in the world, it most certainly has not been is from an ancient red-wine variety, variety, for which Grisard has high
in the Jura, where such wines are usually stored in part-filled vessels. This the Persan, which was widely planted hopes, and there is a selection of
deliberate oxidation is intended to start off the Savagnin as potential vin pre-phylloxera. Although both are white varieties that may be used
jaune. Certain producers in Arbois have adopted the non-traditional approach thought to have a good future, the to make a late-harvest wine.
for Chardonnay over many years, but it is a new direction for Savagnin.
Most of these new Savagnin wines are bottled in a fresh style with plenty of
lees contact. The result is a fresh but intense, tangy wine, not typical of old- Grapevine
style Jura, but a worthy addition to the myriad existing styles, and, of course, • A new standard half-bottle shape not be sold as vin jaune, but only as a
it offers a much wider appeal. Philippe Chatillon at Domaine de la Pinte is being designed for the various vin de simple white Côtes du Jura.
paille AOCs of the Jura. At present, there
has gone one step further with his Cuvée S, vinified and aged in new oak. • Late harvest has arrived in Chignin,
is a wide variety of bottle shapes in use.
where several producers have launched
Savoie can’t get no satisfaction • Château-Chalon is still awaiting a late-harvest Chignin Bergerons, notably
With the best Savoie estates always moaning about a lack of wine to sell, response from the INAO regarding its from the 2000 vintage.
application to gain grand cru status. The
and often bottling too early in order to satisfy demand, this is one region Château-Chalon AOC covers Château- • Wild boars became a menace at
Chignin in 2001 and 2002. They came
of France that would love the freedom of the New World to expand its Chalon and four other villages.
down from the forested hillsides to cause
vineyards. Just 20 hectares (ha) of new vineyard plantings are authorized
• Compulsory tasting under the damage and reduced crops in some of the
each year (a 1 per cent expansion of the total Savoie vineyard area), and in auspices of the INAO will soon come best vineyards used for the production
the past few years some of this allocation has been used to replant hillside into force in order for Château-Chalon of Chignin Bergeron and Mondeuse.
to attain its AOC status. The wines will Agreement is being sought with local
vineyards previously abandoned due to the difficulty of working them. be tasted before bottling, but after the hunting groups to control the situation.
Notable are the new plantings higher up the south-facing slope of the obligatory six years of cask-ageing. The
Marestel cru above the village of Jongieux, in sight of the river Rhône. Here, vintage concerned will be the 1997, • Raymond Quenard in Chignin is going
into semi-retirement and has passed on
which may be sold only from January
several Jongieux producers have just finished a project to plant a further 2004. Although the producers are in
some of his vineyards to his son Pascal, who
runs a separate estate (Pascal et Annick
8 ha with the traditional Altesse (Roussette de Savoie) variety. Other steep general agreement, this is bound to
Quenard) with his wife. Raymond Quenard,
slopes have been replanted in the Combe de Savoie area between Chignin cause some controversy, especially if
who sells to many of the best restaurants
wines are rejected. Those rejected may
and Fréterive, mainly with Mondeuse and some with Bergeron (Roussanne). in the area, has retained just 2 ha of vines.

Opinion: Could do better

The general quality of wines handled mainly by local négociants is still too
low, bringing down the image of the area. The tourist market (principally
Jura red or rosé? the winter-sports visitor) is all too easy to satisfy with thin, acidic wines to
wash down a fondue or tartiflette. The worst quality is to be found from
The confusion between reds and rosés on producers’ lists is a problem
the largest and best-known crus of Apremont and Abymes. The Comité
to consumers, and it is exacerbated by the Comité Interprofessionnel’s
Interprofessionnel has taken steps to improve this by invoking the INAO
summer 2002 advertising campaign for Rosé du Jura. It stated Si bon
initiative to systematically check on yields in the vineyards at the véraison
qu’il en rougit (meaning “so good it blushes”, with a pun on the word
stage, by taking the new AOC agrément laws seriously, and by practising
rouge). They then launched a confusing winter campaign for rubis to
random sampling in local shops and restaurants. But this is none too soon.
promote lighter reds. While these campaigns were widely derided by
With the French wine consumer becoming more demanding, Savoie needs
producers, many continue to list wines from the Poulsard grape under
to be very careful if it is to maximize its potential. The négociants should
rosés despite the fact that they are vinified as red wines. The terms corail
listen carefully to the views of proprietors of the leading quality estates.
or rubis are used by a few producers. The region needs to decide to
market all these wines simply as reds, even if they are light-coloured. Urgent review of labelling required
For any development of Jura wine sales beyond the traditional local market,
Jaundiced quality an urgent review of labelling laws is essential. At present, many white
There are still too many producers not taking vin jaune production seriously
Jura wines are labelled with the simple AOC (Arbois, Côtes du Jura, or
enough and selling substandard products to the supermarkets at a discount.
Etoile), with no mention of grape variety or, even more importantly, style.
A good producer will, in a typical year, reject around 70 per cent of
This is a big problem, because many wines are still made in the traditional
his barrels of potential vin jaune, using it for white wine instead. The
oxidized, or partly oxidized, style – aged under voile (a layer of yeast
temptation to put substandard barrels through the statutory six years
similar to flor and essential for vin jaune production). Others are made
of ageing in order to market at the considerably higher price achieved
in the more conventional, fresher, Burgundian way of topping up barrels
by vin jaune is great. The introduction of the clavelinage competition gives
or vats completely. Some producers name the former style typé or tradition
an incentive for producers to aim for higher quality, but the local INAO
and the latter floral, but there is no agreed standard term and the two
and individual appellation syndicats must be vigilant to preserve the
styles of wine taste completely different. Some producers do not state
integrity of the region’s most important product in terms of reputation.
the grape variety either, and the wine may be Chardonnay, Savagnin,
Savoie sugar levels or a blend of the two. Current appellation laws permit the naming of
Maximum residual-sugar levels in Savoie whites are not specified in the a single variety, but not a blend. No term will please all producers,
appellation laws, resulting in a wide variation of styles. This can be a but a solution must be found to eliminate the current confusion.
problem for wines from both Jacquère and Altesse (Roussette) varieties,
Straw law could be the last straw
since consumers do not know if they are getting very dry, dry, off-dry, or
The rules on vin de paille production need reviewing to give growers more
even medium-dry wine. For Jacquère (used in the making of Apremont,
flexibility. At present, vin de paille is required to have a minimum of 14.5
Abymes, Chignin, and Jongieux among other crus), the style should be
per cent alcohol, and three years in oak. This limits the styles of wines that
dry, with around 2–4 grams of residual sugar per litre to balance the
can be produced, and is forcing some, like Stéphane Tissot of Domaine
high acidity. The rather fuller-flavoured, but equally acidic, Altesse can
André et Mireille Tissot, to produce a similar style of wine, but with lower
cope with up to 6 or 7 grams of sugar per litre, but there are still some
alcohol and higher sugar level, outside the auspices of the appellation.
producers making sweeter wines. With a gradual reduction of yields in
The regulations must be changed if the appellation is to survive.
Savoie, resulting in a greater concentration of fruit, there should be even
less need to use residual sugar for balance. Drier styles certainly match
local foods better than sweeter ones.

Côtes du Jura lost within its own appellation

Although smaller than the Arbois AOC, the Côtes du Jura AOC is much
more diverse and spread over a vastly larger geographic area. The region
Vintage Report
needs to consider applying to the INAO for a system of crus or named
Advance report on the latest harvest
villages to highlight the terroir differences.
Late harvest overdue
A vendange tardive designation should be allowed for Chignin Bergeron, Jura – After a difficult summer, the north wind dried the grapes at the end of
since this would encourage more growers to aim for lower yields and August, and a period of fine weather in September and early October gave
increase the value of their production. overall good quality, if not great quantity. Nearly all varieties showed both
good natural ripeness and high acidity levels. This bodes well for vin jaune in
Save the grapes the future. However, a mild December meant that many vin de paille producers
There should be more flexibility for producers who want to plant old were struggling to get the requisite degrees. Those who waited until the cold
traditional varieties such as Persan, Mondeuse Blanche, or Veltliner Rouge snap in January should have achieved the right results. A promising vintage.
(known locally as Malvoisie). At present, these so-called minor varieties
Savoie – Three weeks of fine, warm weather, accompanied by a cold north
are only allowed to represent up to 10 per cent of any single vineyard
wind in late September and early October, saved the harvest after a relatively
holding. These old varieties should be preserved and encouraged, to
cool and wet August. It was considerably better for the later varieties, Jacquère
give added value and interest to the wines of Savoie. Of these varieties,
and Mondeuse. Mondeuse shows particular promise from the Combe de
there is wide agreement that the Mondeuse is the most important red-
Savoie. Altesse suffered from rot in places and is varied, though there was
wine variety for Savoie, and in the right conditions it can produce high-
some concentration on the vine in the cru Marestel, and very good wines
quality, age-worthy wines. However, more study is needed into the best
might have been made. Overall, a varied but fairly good vintage, with low to
ways of cultivating, vinifying, and ageing Mondeuse. Styles are many,
average quantities, but nowhere near as successful as in the Jura.
and the best producers are doing a good job; but many young producers
are scared of using expensive oak barrels, for example, because not
enough research has been done into oak‘s compatibility with Mondeuse.
Updates on the previous five vintages
Grapevine 2001
• There has been a change of de Monterminod as individual-estate Vintage rating: 67 (Jura: 69, Savoie: 64)
management for the vineyards of wines and will soon be launching the
Château de Monterminod, which are fine 2000 vintage. Jura – A generally difficult, fairly small, and variable vintage. Growers
planted exclusively with Altesse. decided to declassify all Château-Chalon before the pre-harvest inspection
Following the premature death of • A new Maison du Vin will be built at
due to slightly low degrees of both sugar and acidity. However, soon after,
Gilbert Bouvet, the future of G & G Apremont in 2004. As well as being a
Bouvet, which used to run the château’s centre for the various local official wine the weather improved and there should be some decent vin jaune, though
bodies, it will also act as a regional wine
vineyards, is in question. Management not under the Château-Chalon AOC. For the rest of the wine styles, there
has therefore passed to Jean Perrier centre, welcoming groups for tastings
and other events. is much variation, with only those who made a severe selection making
et Fils, which continues to bottle Château
potentially elegant and balanced Chardonnays and Savagnins.
Savoie – A difficult year for many, with some mildew and intermittent
hailstorms in places reducing quantities. It was cool at the start of September.
Better producers who carried out careful selection at the vine have
produced reasonable wines across the board, but generally a medium-
quality vintage for all varieties and especially difficult for reds.


Vintage rating: 79 (Jura: 78, Savoie:81) 1 Domaine Dupasquier
Jura 2 Edmond Jacquin et Fils
Jura – A rather cool summer gave, in the end, a good-quality vintage overall, 1 Domaine André et Mireille Tissot 3 André & Michel Quenard
with attractive fruit characteristics, reasonable structure, but some lack of 2 Domaine Labet Père et Fils 4 Domaine de l’Idylle
3 Domaine Rolet Père et Fils 5 Jean Perrier et Fils
concentration, often due to high yields. Enjoy these wines before the 1999s.
4 Domaine Berthet-Bondet (Sélection Gilbert Perrier range)
Savoie – A good year overall with good yields, too. There was concentrated 5 Domaine Jacques Puffeney 6 Domaine de Rocailles
Bergeron and Altesse, but a lack of weight and structure in Mondeuse has 6 Domaine Jacques Tissot 7 Eugène Carrel et Fils

resulted in quick-maturing reds. 7 Domaine Baud Père et Fils

1 Domaine Prieuré Saint-Christophe WINES
1999 2 Domaine Louis Magnin
3 Domaine Dupasquier According to Jean Macle, vin jaune
Vintage rating: 84 (Jura: 87, Savoie:78) needs 10 years in bottle (16+ years
from the vintage) before reaching
Jura – An extremely sunny year gave the highest sugar levels ever seen
FASTEST-IMPROVING perfection, so the Château-Chalons
in most varieties, great fruit concentration, and good yields, too. There PRODUCERS and vins jaunes selected do need
were excellent overall results, especially for Chardonnay. It may lack the time.The Chardonnays can be drunk
high acidity for the real long-term ageing. from now.Tissot’s Les Bruyères has
1 Frédéric Lornet
more oak than the others.The Savoie
Savoie – There was some variation, but overall a good year with both 2 Domaine de la Pinte
wines can be approached now, but
Roussette and Mondeuse capable of ageing well. Savoie will also age well for several years.
1 Jean-Pierre & Jean-François Quenard Jura
2 Jean-Pierre & Philippe Grisard 1 Château-Chalon 1995
1998 3 Pascal et Annick Quenard Jean Macle (€27)
Vintage rating: 77 (Jura: 79, Savoie: 75) 2 Château-Chalon 1996
Domaine Berthet-Bondet (€28)
Jura – Though this year was spoiled by rain in September, most producers NEW UP-AND- 3 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay
were able to harvest a reasonable, healthy crop. Somewhat light, but well- COMING PRODUCERS Les Varrons 2000
Domaine Labet Père et Fils (€11)
balanced wines overall. Jura 4 Arbois Chardonnay Les
Savoie – Difficult spring and summer weather conditions gave relatively 1 Domaine de la Renardière Bruyères 2000 Domaine André
2 Domaine Ganevat et Mireille Tissot (€12.20)
light, early-drinking wines, although it is an overall decent vintage.
3 Domaine de la Tournelle 5 Arbois Vin Jaune 1994
4 Domaine Ligier Père et Fils Domaine Jacques Puffeney (€27)
1997 6 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay
1 Domaine St-Germain
Fleur de Marne, La Bardette
Vintage rating: 83 (Jura: 81, Savoie: 85) 1998 Domaine Labet Père et Fils
Jura – This was a year with good ripeness levels, but somewhat low acidity
levels. The vins jaunes that will be released in 2004 should be of reasonable,
PRODUCERS 1 Roussette de Savoie 2000
rounded quality, perhaps maturing faster than some years. Domaine Prieuré Saint-Christophe
Savoie – A sunny year that gave very good, rich wines. It was especially (€13)
1 Domaine Rolet Père et Fils
2 Vin de Savoie Mondeuse
successful for Mondeuse, and good structure for Roussette de Savoie, the 2 Château Béthanie, Fruitière
d’Arbin Vieilles Vignes 2000
best of which are lasting well. Vinicole d’Arbois
Domaine Louis Magnin (€10)
3 Daniel Dugois

3 Vin de Savoie Chignin oak barrels, fully topped up.
UNUSUAL FINDS Made as top-level white Burgundy
Bergeron Vielles Vignes 2001
Jean-Pierre & Jean-François Jura might be.
Quenard (€8) 1 Spirale Passerillé sur Paille 7 Côtes du Jura Pinot Noir
4 Vin de Savoie Mondeuse 1998 Domaine André et Mireille Cuvée Julien Ganevat 2001
Tradition 2001 Domaine Prieuré Tissot (€24 per half-bottle) Domaine Ganevat (€8.50) Jean-
Saint-Christophe (€13) Technically a partially fermented François Ganevat demonstrates
must with just 8.5 per cent with this wine that, even from
alcohol, but 300 grams of the difficult 2001, it is possible to
residual sugar per litre. Made make an elegant, but structured,
as a vin de paille from Savagnin, Pinot with a Burgundian
The Jura selections are enjoyable Chardonnay, and Poulsard grapes, character of the best sort.
now. From Savoie, the Apremont, dried unusually on real straw in 8 Arbois Savagnin Fleur de
Abymes, and Cruet should be drunk wooden boxes, this wine does Savagnin 2000 Domaine de la
early.The rest will repay some ageing. not have the level of alcohol Tournelle (€10) Pascal Clairet does
required by the appellation not enjoy making traditional
Jura laws for vin de paille. oxidized Savagnin as much as this
1 Arbois Chardonnay 2000 2 Arbois Naturé 1999 Frédéric fresh style, which has had almost
Domaine Rolet Père et Fils (€7) Lornet (€8.50) Savagnin from two years in barrel, topped up.
2 Arbois Chardonnay Vieilles a very ripe year, aged on lees
Vignes 2000 in large wooden foudres for
1 Vin de Savoie Le Bergeron
Fruitière Vinicole d’Arbois (€7) 18 months, kept meticulously
d’Elisa 2000 Jean-Pierre & Jean-
3 Crémant du Jura Brut Prestige topped up. Naturé is the old
François Quenard (€16 per half-
Grand Frères (€6.60) Jura name for Savagnin.
bottle) The Bergeron, alias
3 Arbois-Pupillin Vendange
Savoie Roussane, can achieve great
Oublié 2001 Domaine de la
1 Roussette de Savoie Marestel ripeness on the slopes of Chignin
Renardière (€8.50) This is two
2000 Domaine Dupasquier in good years. Here the grapes
thirds Chardonnay, one third
(€6.80) have been left to ripen late to
Savagnin, harvested late and
2 Roussette de Savoie 2001 give a vendange tardive style.
partly vinified in barrel, with a
Edmond Jacquin et Fils (€4.70) 2 Vin de Savoie Persan 2001
little new oak and then aged
3 Vin de Savoie Chignin Jean-Pierre et Philippe Grisard
with the barrels fully topped up.
Bergeron Les Terrasses 2001 (€7.50) From the rare red-grape
4 Arbois Trousseau Cuvée
André & Michel Quenard (€7.80) variety Persan, the structure and
Grevillière 1999 Daniel Dugois
4 Vin de Savoie Cruet fruit of this wine, from very young
(€8) From a year with plenty of
Vieilles Vignes 2001 vines in a difficult vintage, shows
sunshine, this is one of the few
Domaine de l’Idylle (€4.50) why there is such a buzz of
traditional Jura reds tasted this
5 Mondeuse d’Arbin, Graine excitement about its revival.
year that shows true ripeness.
de Terroir, Selection Gilbert
A real pleasure to drink.
Perrier 2001
5 Arbois Savagnin Naturé 2000
Jean Perrier et Fils (€6.60)
Domaine Jacques Tissot (€10.40)
6 Vin de Savoie Apremont
Another Savagnin made in a
Prestiges de Rocaille 2002
fresh, non-oxidative style.
Pierre Boniface (€5)
6 Arbois Savagnin Cuvée S 1999
7 Vin de Savoie Abymes 2002
Domaine de la Pinte (€25)
Château de la Violette (€3.40)
Probably the only Jura Savagnin
that has been vinified and
matured in 100 per cent new