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7 of the Best White Wines From France’s Jura

With a terroir similar to that of its more famous neighbor to the west, France’s tiny Jura region lives in the shadow of Burgundy, but offers memorable white wines that deserve consideration in their own right.

As in Burgundy, Chardonnay is a major player in Jura, which also borders Switzerland. But just as important is the local Savagnin variety (not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc), which can produce splendid dry wines with considerable complexity.

Savagnin is also the grape used to make Jura’s unique and famous Vin Jaune, or yellow wine, that is left untouched as it ages for years in barrel. It develops partial oxidation and becomes almost sherry-like in character, but unlike sherry is not fortified.

Beyond Vin Jaune, other Savagnins (and some Chardonnays) are made in both Jura’s traditional, slightly oxidized style known as “sous voile,” or in the more modern, Burgundian “ouillé” style in which the barrels are “topped off,” or filled up, to prevent any oxidation. I prefer the latter, which is the way we drink most white wines, and there are some truly exciting examples in the list below. The traditional style is nonetheless intriguing, and I’ve included a couple of them as well.

The wines come from several Jura appellations, including Arbois, the biggest and most well known; Côtes du Jura; and L’Étoile, the smallest and named after the starfish fossils found in the soil, according to one theory.

The red wines of Jura — made primarily from Poulsard, Trousseau, and Pinot Noir — are also worth exploring, as I noted in my last column.

Here are seven white Jura wines to try:

Domaine du Pélican Arbois Chardonnay 2021

This is a stunning and complex Chardonnay that will rival just about anything in Jura (or Burgundy for that matter). A bit enclosed at first, it emerges as a luscious yet fresh wine with rich flavors of Meyer lemon, grilled orange, yellow delicious and Granny Smith apples, and pineapple, each revealing itself as the wine opens up. There are touches of saline and vanilla on the finish. The wine shows a perfect harmony of fruit, oak, and acidity. Alcohol is 12.5 percent. The domaine is farmed biodynamically.

Price: $57
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Fabrice Dodane Les Dos d’Chat Arbois Chardonnay 2020

Dodane is a leading “natural” wine producer, and Les Dos d’Chat is his line of “negociant” wines for which the grapes are purchased from other vineyards. This Chardonnay is made in Jura’s traditional oxidative style, producing an amber-colored wine that is fermented with naturally occurring yeasts and limited use of sulfites. There’s a distinct earthiness and chalky texture that makes it taste and feel somewhat like a skin-contact orange wine, with aromas and flavors of candied and sour apples, pear, orange blossom, and a hint of butterscotch. Be prepared for something quite different that, for some, will be an acquired taste.

Price: $35
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Rijckaert Arbois Grand Elevage Savagnin 2021

From a producer of both Burgundy and Jura wines, this old-vine Savagnin shows what can be achieved with the grape. A predominant green apple note is accented by hints of ginger, green olive, and saline. A flinty minerality carries through on the long finish.

Price: $42
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Domaine de la Touraize Arbois Chardonnay ‘Les Voisines’ 2021

This is a beautifully balanced, mineral-driven Chardonnay with tangy citrus fruit, especially Meyer lemon, and apricot. There’s a slight smokiness and a subtle creamy overlay. It’s fresh and drinking well now but has years of potential ahead of it.

Price: $43
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Croix & Courbet Côtes du Jura ‘Savadonnay’ 2019

As the name suggests, this one is a blend of Savagnin (30 percent) and Chardonnay (70 percent), which produce an unusual and delicious wine. The label is a collaboration between David Croix, a Burgundian winemaker, and Damien Courbet, a winemaker in Jura. This crisp wine is marked by flinty minerality, which infuses pear, green apple, and pink grapefruit flavors. Oak integration is just right.

Price: $45
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Domaine de Montbourgeau L’Étoile ‘L’Assemblage’ 2019

This is a relatively big wine, a luscious blend of Chardonnay and Savagnin that weighs in at 14.5 percent ABV. But the balance is superb, with zesty lemon, orange, and honey notes punctuated by river rocks and flint, a hint of almond, and the salinity that is so typical of white Jura wines. The oak integration is seamless. The farm’s 22 acres are farmed organically.

Price: $44
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Domaine de Montbourgeau L’Étoile ‘En Banode’ 2018

A lovely and fascinating wine made in the traditional Jura style. It’s a blend of Savagnin and Chardonnay from a single vineyard plot that are aged together for several years in oak barrels. The wine is full-bodied (ABV is 15 percent) and more rustic than the L’Assemblage. Light amber in color, a smokiness punctuates the flavors of green apple and peach, and touches of orange, vanilla, and almond emerge on the long finish.

Price: $46
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The article 7 of the Best White Wines From France’s Jura appeared first on VinePair.

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