With its steeply sloping hills and narrow valleys, Jura is a truly unique wine region – and the Crémant du Jura in January’s Bubble Box is a testament to the winemaking traditions that have put this spot on the map.
Tucked into a far corner of western France is a wine region like few others. The range and uniqueness of the wines produced in Jura, so close to the Swiss border that you can make the drive in just over an hour, make them well worth exploring.
As Benjamin le Berre, a winemaker at Marcel Cabelier, explains: “Our region is very atypical – the Jura area is known for several grape varieties, including Poulsard, Trousseau and Savagnin. Combining these varieties with a continental climate, a rolling countryside, many types of soil and the touch of local winemakers, it brings you plenty of wines to discover.”
And discover them you certainly should – starting, of course, with the delicious Crémant du Jura that features in January’s Bubble Box.
With five unique grape varieties to play with, it’s no wonder that the winemakers of Jura have become known for making wines that can’t be found anywhere else.
The most famous of these is Vin Jaune, which translates to ‘yellow wine’. “Vin Jaune is one of the most prestigious wines in the world,” Benjamin says.
Made with Savagnin grapes – a white grape, not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc, grown primarily in the Jura region – this unusual style of wine starts with late-harvest grapes. Because of the cold climate, harvests in Jura are often pushed back as far as possible. So while many harvests elsewhere are finished by October, that’s when the picking often starts in this part of the world.
Once the grapes are harvested by hand, they’re crushed and pressed. The wine is then left to mature for a staggering six years and three months. “It’s a delicate process,” Benjamin says. “Inside the barrel, the wine evaporates and is never topped up. That creates the famous ‘voile’ – or layer of yeast’ – that makes Vin Jaune so unique.”
Marcel Cabelier, under the umbrella of Maison du Vigneron, makes this uniquely aromatic wine along with two other unique Jura wines: Vin de Paille and, of course, Crémant du Jura.
Fizz du France
Marcel Cabelier Crémant du Jura is a product of one of the oldest and most experienced winemaking houses in the Jura region. And it’s a good thing, too – because this wine has gone through quite the journey to get to fizz fans today.
To begin with, the 2013 vintage was a struggle. Marcel Cabelier’s winemakers rely on a hand-selected group of local farmers to produce the grapes for their Crémant du Jura, and only the experience of these farmers (and, of course, the many years of experience of the winemaking team) stood between the bad weather of 2013 and total disaster.
“From one year to the next,” Benjamin says, “the vineyard is likely to suffer from bad weather. When a vintage is challenging, the work of the winemaker is even more important to be able to release a quality wine. Our knowhow helped us produce an appealing wine despite the climate.”
And this wine is appealing, indeed. Made from more than 90% Chardonnay grapes, bolstered with a blend of Pinot Noir and native red grape variety, Poulsard, for structure and complexity, it offers a wonderful window on how a fresh terroir and cool climate can influence the flavour of the classic Champagne grape.
As Benjamin says: “The wine is aromatic, and the lovely length highlights the minerality of the terroir.”
When sipping this joyous Jura, keep your nose alert for green apple flavours complimented by notes of brioche bread. This toasty scent – which will be replicated on the palate – is a hallmark of wines made using the méthode traditionelle. This method, the same used to make Champagne, sees the wine undergo a second round of fermentation in the bottle you’ll eventually open.
This is a fabulous wine to serve before a meal or alongside dessert (Benjamin recommends a lemon tart) and also serves as a fabulous starting point to explore the other wines that Jura has to offer.