If Burgundy had siblings, Jura would be the little brother. Now, Beaujolais would probably be the middle child but Jura would be the baby. Inspired and tutored by the big bro’s but full of its own quirks and personality. The Jura is cute, quaint and its wines can range from ethereal and mythical to traditional and conventional, while completely adhering to their own set of standards. Like Beaujolais, they impart winemaking techniques and grow grapes that thrive in natural winemaking. Like Burgundy, the best winemakers vinify grapes by parcel plus Pinot Noir and Chardonnay flourish on the mineral rich Jurassien soil. Although, however much The Jura may have in common with these regions, Jura has so much more to offer.
Situated 50 miles east of Beaune, Jura is sandwiched between Burgundy and Switzerland. It has a cool continental climate, clay and fossil abundant soil and three unique indigenous grapes. Poulsard (aka, Ploussard) Trousseau and Savanign. All three varieties help impart the nuance and unique character found nowhere else in the world. Poulsard produces luminous reds lush with polished acids that are fluent in the translation of minerals, backed by velvety or grippy tannins. Trousseau blesses us with slightly deeper and more opulent reds that tend to not run past medium bodied, perfectly elegant or supremely rustic. Nowhere does Trousseau like Jura. Finally, Savanign, an aromatic, sometimes nutty perhaps waxy grape is known as a ‘founder varietal’. Savanign has many genetic descendants and is responsible for some grape mutations we know today such as Gewurztraminer & Albarino. Savanign also creates ‘Vin Jaune’ or ‘Yellow Wine’, an oxidized wine made from late harvest Savanign grapes that are fermented and aged without refilling the barrel, allowing the wine to reduce and a layer of yeast called ‘Flor’ or ‘Voille’ to develop, similar to Sherry, this method is known as ‘Sous Voile’. It’s debated how Trousseau got to Portugal and fell under the ‘Bastardo’ moniker, but I like to think it had something to do with Jurassiens and Portuguese finding this vinification style in common.
Jura also grows exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, just like big bro Burgundy. Many of the Jura’s best winemakers have studied in Burgundy, bringing back craft, technique and most importantly philosophy. From Jurassien ‘unicorn’ Jean François Ganevat to Fabrice Dodaine of Domaine De Saint Pierre, who both studied in the Beaune. Burgundian influence plays a major role in the “Jurennaisance” of the late 90s and early 2000’s which birthed the Jura that we know and love today. Jura’s complex, clay and fossil full soils, hilly landscape, varying micro climates and generally cool weather can be comparable to Burgundy where each small plot or parcel expresses notable nuance encouraging winemakers to vinify each parcel separately. Allowing producers to experiment and develop many different cuvees like Alice Bouvot of l’Octavin who produces a whopping 22 cuvees from just 5 hectares of vines spread throughout Jura showcasing terroir and her “Jurgundian” spirit. However, unlike Burgundy which can only grow 3 varietals and treats Aligote like Michelle from Destiny’s Child, the Jura grows 5 major grapes, has vineyards full of ancient field blends and adheres to much more lenient wine laws. This makes the Jura paradise for adventurous drinkers, geeky sommeliers and those just suffering from general palate fatigue. The Jura provides refuge for those who want consistent quality at a great price, those looking for something new and people who want someone’s top tier product for under triple digits that still holds some form of pedigree.
Here at Henry’s we’ve managed to accumulate quite a selection of fascinating producers who have helped shape or are currently shaping Jura’s bright and expansive future. Here’s a little about the producers we carry and curated tasting notes of a few of our favorite and most interesting bottles!
THE YOUNG GUNS – UP & COMING PRODUCERS WITH ONLY A HANDFUL OF VINTAGES
Valentin Morel – Former lawyer turned vigneron, Morel produces thought provoking wines of precision and refinement with a growing skillset. His wines are expressive and true to the terroir. Inspired by Rudolph Steiner and biodynamics Valentin became determined to create his own wines. He is a young vigneron with an old soul that should stand as a proper role model for all natural winemakers going forward. He took over his fathers vineyards in 2014 and quickly converted to organic and biodynamic and he has never looked back. He changed the domain name to Pieds sur Terre ‘Feet on Earth’ and the future of Jura has been in good hands ever since.
Nicolas Jacob – A hometown hero, Nicolas Jacob is originally from the Jura. An apprentice of Jean Francois Ganevat. Jacob started in 2015 & is fully independent as of 2019 with a small winery and around 6 hectares throughout Jura. Being that we are in the early stages of his career it’s insightful to see his early offerings and exciting to watch his progression over the years. His wines display strength, precision and a compelling rusticity that will stand the test of time.
THE TRADITIONALISTS – BENCHMARKS & BAR SETTERS
Michel Gahier – Protegee of Jura OG Jacques Puffeney, Gahier has lineage in the Jura since 1525. His Domaine reigns 6.5 hectares and is vinified by parcel and vineyard. His terroir driven wines always run a little bit more concentrated than his counterparts. Showing the depth Jura can achieve. Gahier’s Trousseau’s are expressive and profound. His impact on the Jura wine scene is both unique and respected. Dare I say a Bordeaux drinkers Jura producer? Gahier’s wines are concentrated and enlightening. Pinot and Trousseau from Gahier are robust and more full than most Jurassien examples. Yet Gahier who resides in Montigny-les-Arsures, a town known for its Trousseau, continues to show his individuality that is highly respected & consumed by his peers.
Les Matheny – Les Matheny is named after Jurassien town Mathenay, is the creation of Elise and Emeric Foléat. The Foleat’s are traditional Jura producers who set the bar for concise, sophisticated and regal examples of the Jura. Emeric Foleat had spent 8 years working with Jura legend Jacques Puffeney, and now with wife Elise the Foleats have imprinted their own mark on the Arbois with the sturdy, refined, elegant yet stalwart wines of Les Matheny. Their Poulsard shows grit and texture, their chardonnays full and robust. I love sharing Les Matheny with conventional wine drinkers, each sip displaying how minimal intervention and proper tannic extraction can be profound and dignified without being overbearing. On the flipside for those who drink softer and more gentle wines Les Matheny is perfect to showcase when looking for something bigger without being heavy. Perfect integration, minimal intervention, moderate experimentation with a pedigree of tradition define Les Matheny.
Domaine de Saint Pierre – Domaine de Saint Pierre is ran by Fabrice Dodaine also out of the town Matheny in the Jura. Dodaine is yet another Jurassien producer with Burgundian roots having studied oenology in Beaune. He’s been the winemaker of Domaine De Saint Pierre since 1989 and became full owner in 2011. Dodaine provides us with brilliant representations of the Jura, his craftsmanship is top tier. With 30+ years of experience in the Jura it’s safe to say Dodaine and Domaine de Saint Pierre set a standard for success. I’d recommend Saint Pierre as an excellent starting point if just venturing into The Jura wine scene each bottle is a pristine example of terroir and soil with a more classic approach.
Domaine de la Tournelle – Evelyne and Pascal Clairet started Domaine de la Tournelle in 1991. They own 6 hectares of vines and create 12 cuvées. They produce delicious traditional Jura style wines yet are constantly experimenting with different techniques while creating new possible bottlings such as carbonic maceration and they even make some Jurassien Syrah! Biodynamic Domaine de la Tournelle is a great reference point for purity of Jurassien varietals. Providing a great benchmark for quality Jura.
THE HYBRIDS – PUSHING THE ENVELOPE WHILE REMAINING TRUE
Phillipe Bornard – Phillipe Bornard is located in Pupillin, a small commune and AOP of the Jura. Phillipe is currently in the process of retiring but passing the torch to his son Tony who has been working with him in the vineyards for over 10 years making for a near seamless transition. Bornard is a hybrid, walking that line between technique and artistry, a bit more playful than serious. However jubilant the wines can be, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. These wines have game and just because they are having a good time playing doesn’t mean they can’t compete with the more traditional producers of the Jura. Bornard is a neighbor of Pierre Overnoy who personally convinced him to stop selling his grapes and start making his own wines. This top tier fruit leads to A1 juice which has overall led to their cult like following. I know what’s in store for me when I see that bright ‘Bornard Orange’ and that foxy label with its distinct font. The layered, ethereal juice that awaits in every bottle always hits, but should always be savored and drunk patiently. Now would be the best time to enjoy Bornard to get to enjoy some of the last few vintages Phillipe will personally get his hands on. *Fun Fact* If you google the Varietal Trousseau, Bornard’s ‘Le Ginglet’ label pops up. We carry the 2018 ‘Le Ginglet’ Vintage & you know you want this status quo Trousseau!
Domaine des Marnes Blanches – Pauline & Geruard Fromont are both native to the Jura and began making wine together in their hometown after meeting while working vineyards in Dijon. The Fromonts have a very Burgundian approach to winemaking separately vinifying each parcel. they also employ another technique that is very Jura centric by having two different cellars that each serve their own purpose one for Sous Voille wines (A technique letting flor or yeast develop in barrel and the wine to oxidize) and one for Ouille style wines (barrels that are filled up or topped off). Domaine des Marnes Blanche continuously provide benchmark examples of wines from the Jura. The value is always unmistakable but with their allocated, small production it is a treat any time you can get your hands on one.
Domaine Buronfosse – In 1999 Peggy and Jean Pascal Buronfosse moved to La Combe de Rotalier, they had aspirations of having a farm to raise animals and grow vegetables but ended up catching the wine bug. Personally, I’m thankful they did. They began buying up some vineyards and learning on the go. They got some notoriety in La Combe de Rotalier, the Village of Jean Francois Ganevat and with a little tutelage from the man himself they began to maximize their potential, which still grows every vintage. In 2013 Jean Pascal was able to retire from his job teaching and begin working on the vineyard full time and what sucks for those school children has been great for the natural wine community. Their Savanign is otherworldly and their genuine passion for agriculture – growing their own food and wine is what makes their wines so true to place.
Les Bottes Rouge – Jean-Baptiste Menigoz & Florien Kleine Snuverink make up Les Bottes Rouge. Menigoz, a former teacher and skier was joined by Snuverink in 2014. Jean Baptise was inspired after drinking some Jean Foillard (and who couldn’t be?), he studied oenology and when he began to set out on his own was guided by tenured Jura producers Tissot and Monnier. Snuverink had owned a cafe and had spent time in Beaujolais with Yvon Metras. A lot of name dropping here, when you taste these wines and if you have been lucky enough to have tried wines from the dropped names you can immediately feel the influence in every sip. A bit more of a Beaujolais inspiration as opposed to Burgundy, with lighter and fresher profiles. Mostly ‘Ouille’ style whites and juicy lively reds. Les Bottes Rouge give you Cru Boj vibes with that Alpine freshness of the Jura and with Menigoz and Snuverink behind every move made in vineyard and cellar their personal touch and personality are stamped on every bottle. A must try.
MYTHICAL – ARE THESE WINES MAGIC?!
Alice Bouvot Domaine de l’Octavin – The Queen of Coferments, the transcendent, mythical, magical and memorable wines of Domaine de l’Octavin by Alice Bouvot. These wines show what technique, imagination and respect for the earth can breed. Whether its single Varietal, blend or coferments the wines of l’Octavin are unique. A balance of craft and emotion, soulful and playful wines. A harmonious balance of flavor continuously crafted by Alice Bouvot. Bouvot makes living wines that are true to the region, terroir & most importantly self. Its a zen-like experience to enjoy any l’Octivan wine as they are ethereal, thought provoking and just down right delicious. Bouvot takes full advantage of the land beneath her feet using the diverse and rich soils of the Jura to extract a whopping 22 different cuvees from around 5hectares of vines. Her wines are symphony of flavor and range from classical to synth but always au naturel “vin vivant” if you haven’t had any l’Octavin you are truly missing out. We carry so many of her unique cuvees and often have to limit the amount sold per person to spread the love. She transcends the Jura and brings a certain truthfulness to her wines. Every sip births a smile.
THE UNICORN – GET THEM NOW BEFORE THEY ARE GONE FOREVER
Anne et Jean Francois Ganevat – Few producers live up to a hype built so high, but it seems to be effortless for Ganevat. His wines are legendary, pure expressions of the land. Concise, complex, cutting edge and traditional all in one. He honed his technique around 50 miles west in Beaune working with Jean Marc Morey. While he isn’t the old guard per se (he returned to the Jura in ‘98) Ganevat certainly was responsible for the “Jurennaisance” of the late 2000’s that ended with Jurassien producers like Puffeney and Ganevat becoming staples on multiple Michelin star restaurants wine lists. His Burgundian technique and biodynamic approach lead to wines that seem extraterrestrial. A shining example of what natural wine can be, not just in the Jura but anywhere in the world. Whatever Ganevat we have left will not last long, these enchanting wines are lucid expressions of the French Alps and a must try for any wine connoisseur.
Gems of The Jura
Bright pale, golden color and tied together with a pinch of cloudiness. The aromas are staunch showing underripe fruit and a barrage minerals. Flint, smoke and stone play the background but liven over time. Dry, integrated acids blend with bit of a weighty texture backed by sturdy minerals. Medium to full body moderate intensity a bright minerality, lemon pith, limestone, its almost perfectly dry. The wine is defined by its minerality and a lovely essence of underripe pineapple that develops over time. Aged for 12 months on sediment this wine is a pure expression of the earth it came from – La Bas – means down low (this wine is form the lower part of the vineyard)
A small appellation in the heart of the Jura, L’Etoile produces small quantities of strictly white wine. L’Etoile translates to ‘The Star’ in reference to the shape of the region and fossils found in the rich limestone soil. Abundant with nutrients that make it an ideal region for beautiful acid and mineral driven white wines, Jura’s Chablis but… oak and reduction is totally cool.
Beautiful light ruby color, unfined unfiltered, the delicate sediments dance in the bottle.
Fresh aromas of strawberry, violets, cherries, raspberry and a touch of red plum. Vibrant earth aromas add some depth to the fruit.Some herbs and irony minerals poke through the earth and fruit. The palate is dry, the tannins are youthful and grippy while the body is medium in terms of Jurassien standards but light to your Napa Cabernet quaffer. Supremely elegant, tart fruits, touch of herbs and a pinch of spice on the finish. The grippy tannins round out the freshness of the wine. This truly shows how energetic Trousseau can be while maintaining a certain decadence. Give me lamb chops, some skirt steak with chimichurri, or just a good book. This is such a versatile wine, you could even stash this 5-10 years and have something really special for a perfect pairing in the future.
Pale bright ruby Elegant aromas of red fruit, plum and raspberry, flowers and earth develop and mature as it opens with a staunch minerality throughout. We get a wine that’s superbly comforting and sublime. Just because it’s gentle doesn’t mean it isn’t refined. The wine shows earth, a lovely pink peppercorn spice and light miso character. There is a twang of smoke that complements the violet nature of the wine. Minerals are an overlying theme to the wine that act as a backbone allowing this ethereal Pinot Noir to branch out and achieve its desired nuance. As it opens the aromas of mulch and a nostalgic smell of a rainy day somewhere woodsy. On the palate its dry, mouthwatering acids are lively and well integrated, leading to whispers of tannin that complement this lighter bodied pinot noir. The body is supple, the flavors of raspberry, plum, violets and earth are enriched by a lingering finish of a pronounced iron minerality.
Bright, Cloudy, Pomegranate garnett murky color. The nose is intense, it’s complex and features Gamay and chardonnay grappling over who controls the more dominant traits. From Chardonnay’s apple to Gamay’s berries wrapped in an overall freshness that’s the common trait. There’s a rustic woodsy charm to the wine. I wish I was drinking this wine in a log cabin rather than on Ralph Avenue. Vibrant aromas of fresh earth, burnt orange and hints of game. Dry, with lively acids, light to medium body sporting a long finish. A truly invigorating palate showing pomegranate, cranberry and savory blood orange. The wine ranges from tart to gamey. You can get notes of cracked black pepper from the Gamay riding in on a wave of citrus from the chardonnay. With the game and herbs and citrus it feels like I’m about to season lamb chops
A best of both worlds situation right here, there are blends and co-ferments and then there is the Charmay. These seem to go hand in hand the fruits of each respective grape combine effortlessly. One hand washes the other, but both hands wash the face. Its an opposites attract kind of thing where opposing colors shown in this light complement each other flawlessly. While its complex it’s not a serious wine, it’s not a brooding show stopper but rather an album that while played thru and thru has beginning middle and end over evolution without taking itself too seriously. You have to think about this wine and its hard not to smile about it when you do. What’s amazing about a great coferment is the aided evolution with temperature change while drinking, the Chardonnay shined cold the gamay came alive as warmed. 9/10
The wine is stunning even just by aesthetics. A lovely bright but cloudy ruby color. The nose boasts fresh raspberry, hints of strawberry, cassis and smoke. The deep complex aromas are uplifted by the vibrancy of the Chardonnay. There’s a minerality that shines through the pungent fruit and a touch of smoky black cherry, rose, touch of game & tart cherries develop as the wine opens up.
Dry, bright lively crunchy acids, delicate tannins that progress as the wine transitions to room temperature – harmoniously integrated with those neon like acids. Medium minus body, tart cherries, raspberry, cranberry deep red apple. As the wine evolves and the temperature changes the wine densens. It becomes lush, it gets more comfortable. It was refreshing and bright out of the fridge but evolved to comforting and juicier over time. The wine had earthtones range from fresh to decaying displaying a ripe bouquet of herbs and roses. Lovely green notes from being 50% whole cluster. ‘Elle Aime’ or ‘She Likes’ sees a two month maceration so you get these orange wine like tannins from the Chardonnay and more velvety tannins from the Pinot Noir begin to sprout over the duration of drinking. It’s truly a mind boggling wine, easy to drink fast but rewarding to savor. 10/10. A dime piece of a wine.
By – John Burch