By Melba Allen
When you hear some say Jurassic soils, most Americans think of the film, Jurassic Park. But in fact, Jurassic soils are limestone and marlstone found in the Jura region, east of Paris between Alsace, Burgundy and Switzerland. Jura gets its name from the Jurassic geological period because of the Limestone Mountains developed millions of years ago. Reputed to have gotten its name from the star-shaped marine fossils which characterize the limestone-rich soils there, L’Etoile (French for ‘star’) is a village which is home to one of Jura’s most well-known appellations. White wines from Etoile are mostly from the Savagnin white grape that you don’t see much outside of the Jura, Savoie, Bugey area. It makes the notorious Vin Jaune de Jura (Yellow wines of Jura) that smells of very ripe and luscious fruits and walnuts. But instead of being sweet and juicy, it is bone shockingly dry! It is one of those wines that some people love while others don’t. But if you think of the Vin Jaune as being similar to a Sherry, then you have eventually some people who learn to like. The Vin Jaune de Jura is special because from the time they gather the grapes, to its oxidized fermentation process, to the aging in oak barrels and eventually in the bottle, it take six years before it finally hits the market.
The Savagnin of course make another wine that is actually luscious and sweet called the ‘vin de paille’ or Straw wine. This wine made from both Savagnin and Chardonnay grapes that are late harvested and then laid out to dry some more on straw. The Botrytis Cinerea is not really an issue since the grapes are losing naturally most of its body water mass leaving sugar and acidity behind. During the alcoholic fermentation process, white wine brandy is used for fortifying the wine, therefore the alcohol content is somewhere between 15 an 20%.
The Appellation of Etoile is not the only one that makes these two very distinct wines. In the Jura region, there is also the Appellation of Arbois and Château Chalon who share the same soils conditions. Red grapes used are the Pinot noir, Gamay and Trousseau. Other wines produced in this area are:
– Rosé de Jura
– Crémant de Jura
- In praise of diversity (or engineering it): Jura, New Zealand and yeast strains (winecase.ca)
- Quick Bites: Prefere des Nos Montagnes (or the “mock” Reblochon) (housemouseoncheese.com)