Wednesday, 27 April 2016

RWF 2016 "The Jura is in" Seminar

Wink Lorch with Kenjiro Kagami
The best moment of this fascinating seminar of the wines of Jura was Wink Lorch's story about the British wine writer who told the organizer of a Jura tasting that they didn't want to taste yet another Chardonnay. The whole point of Jura is that the wines, even the Chardonnays taste different from those of any other region. We at Slotovino will only drink Chardonnay from the Jura, so distinctive in its purity and refinement.

First of all Wink gave us a few statistics. There are 2,000 ha. under vine in the Jura of which 300 are organic which is equal to 17%. There are 45 - 50 growers of these organic wines. Jura represents 0.2% of France's total wine production. Cremant du Jura (mainly Chardonnay) accounts for 25% of production of the entire area. Chardonnay is the most planted white variety and Poulsard the most planted red variety with Pinot Noir next. Jura's other signature grapes, Savignin and Trousseau are therefore minority grapes with Trousseau accounting for only 200 ha. Besancon, the capital of Jura is under 100 km from Dijon, the capital of Burgundy and yet the two areas couldn't be more different.Jura is a diversity hotspot despite its tiny size.

Another fascinating fact emerging from this seminar is that Wink doesn't much care for Poulsard. This being so, it seems quixotic to write a book about the Jura. She probably likes it more than the first time she tasted it because she had some positive things to say about the sample offered in this event by Julien Mareschal of Domaine de la Borde. If we may be permitted a personal digression, it is thanks to Poulsard that we came to love Jura wine. Our blind spot is Vin Jaune. Nice enough but not different enough to our degraded palate from some sherries to be worth its price. Poulsard suffers from its salmon pink colour. People sometimes think of it as a Rose but to us it is decidedly a red wine. We love its lightness of being (as opposed to colour), its low alcohol, its aromatic resinous character. In that respect we compare it to another favourite, Pineau d'Aunis.

M et Mme Kagemi.
The two vignerons present were admirable people indeed. Kenjiro Kagami was a Hitachi engineer before he and his wife decided one day to devote their lives to wine. He studied at Dijon and worked in Burgundy, Cornas and Alsace where he spent 7 years before taking over an abandoned vineyard of mostly Chardonnay. His property, the Domaine des Miroirs now extends over 3 ha. all of organic and Biodynamic production. Kagemi means Mirror in Japanese by the way. We tasted his 'Sonorite du vent' an excellent Chardonnay. He also grows Savignin from which he makes a vin houille or topped-up wine, not oxydised as was the practise in Jura. The time in 10 year old barrels is 2 years.

Kenijiro Kagami says 'Wine is a product where nature predominates and humans just help it along'. Wink mentioned that growers such as Kenijiro still live hand-to-mouth despite winning prises and selling out his production, such are the economics of a property like the Domaine des Miroirs. She added that she wished buyers would understand that although Jura wines may be 'in,' with such a relatively tiny production it is no use asking for ever greater quantities and the producers don't want to up the prices and alienate their fans.

Julien Mareschal of Domaine de la Borde, Arbois, is from a farming background and only began growing grapes and making wine in 2003.

Julien Mareschal, bass player?

Julien Mareschal when not playing his double bass

His vineyard now covers 5ha. in Arbois-Pupillin, the best region for Poulsard.

what to expect in a glass of Jura natural wine
He also produces Chardonnay, Savignin and Pinot Noir. he works biodynamically and believes that wine is first produced in the vineyard and not in the cellar. He pointed out that the high acidity which is the mark of all Jura wines is due to the very heavy clay soils.

The bowl a Domaine de la Borde
We learned from Julien Mareschal that Poulsard is a very difficult grape to grow. 'Capricieux' was his word. He has a magnificent 'bowl' in his property which is South-facing with warm winds. The best Poulsard is grown there. We learned that in bad years, white wine is made from Poulsard!

Of note is since 2011 is an organization of 38 Jura growers called 'Le nez dans le vert'. They have a get-together at the end of March every year for a tasting and knees-up. This sounds like a great idea.
We wonder if we have to disguise ourselves as Jura growers to get in.

Fortunately Wink Lorch's book has an idea of how to look on the cover.

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