Jura in-depth and wines not to miss
Tucked between Burgundy and the Swiss border, this small area in eastern France is a missing piece of the puzzle for many wine lovers. James Lawther MW explores Jura’s bucolic charms and its characterful wines…
An hour’s drive east of Beaune across the unbroken Bresse plain lie the vineyards of the Jura. Distant cousins with hillside vineyards, Burgundy and Jura have points in common: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and clay-limestone soils to name the essentials, but here the resemblance ceases.
If Burgundy is mainstream, Jura is offbeat, with grape varieties such as Savagnin and Trousseau, and wine styles such as vin jaune offering an original journey. Even Chardonnay, both traditional and the newer ‘ouillé’ versions, is a different cup of tea.
Scroll down for James Lawther MW’s top 12 wines showing Jura at its characterful best
The Jura, in short, is a tempting proposition for the wine aesthete, but it needs to be discovered with an accompanying manual. The appellations, to some degree, help provide a guideline, but they don’t explain the subtleties of terroir, the characteristics of grape varieties or the nuances in style – ‘traditional’ in a Jura context sometimes meaning oxidative winemaking, as in the case of vin jaune, with ageing under a veil or voile of yeast.
Nor do the appellations help to explain more contemporary trends such as conventional winemaking with topping-up of the wine in barrel (ouillé) to prevent oxidation, organics, natural wines or the fact that Crémant du Jura now represents 25%-30% of the production in the region.