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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Wink Lorch » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:58 pm

Hi to all and sorry I visit this forum so rarely. Thanks for the shout-outs - that Savoie wine-pages article is ancient now!!

Last year I wrote a post discussing Mountain Wines - it's really hard to fix on a definition, but the Jura region itself is keen to distance itself from the mountain category, and although I can see both sides of the arguments with Jura, the more I taste their wines, the less mountain-style they seem to be. Sure there is a streak of acidity running through, but the strength of the terroir comes through so strongly even in the resolutely non-oxidative whites, much more than the mountain character.

Tim York wrote:There are now two Labet estates; that of father Alain and that of son Julien. Both have good reputations.

Yes, Tim you were right up until 31.12.12. but now Alain has officially retired and Julien, with his sister Charlène and brother Romain are running the domaine, and Julien's 3 hectares are being incorporated. They plan in future to have 2 ranges - a more natural (no/low SO2) one, which is the equivalent of what Julien was doing on his own and then the more traditional domaine wines. They go from strength to strength - as per profile here.
Oh, and Tim, re. Adrien Vacher, in my view this large négociant is not a good representative for Savoie on the whole, but I guess the wines are available where you are...

To add something new here: one of several fabulous mountain grape varieties being rediscovered in Savoie is Persan (listed below) and although there are only about 10ha grown so far, there are at least two producers with wines in the USA (well NYC at least) - Domaine St-Germain (AOC Savoie) and Nicolas Gonin (IGP Isère). These red wines are deep and broody, with the structure to age too. It's got great potential, perhaps the equal of Mondeuse one day. And yes, I have just written about it on the blog too, but shouldn't really add another personal link, should I?

On the subject of Mondeuse, these go from strength to strength in Savoie too, and the Swiss have started re-planting this grape too - had the chance to taste a range a few weeks ago. You won't find Swiss Mondeuse in the US I shouldn't think, but there are several good Savoie ones available now including Louis Magnin, Domaine Prieuré St-Christophe (fine, but expensive) and Domaine St-Germain.

Finally
Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Question, I am wondering if Valtellina (Lombardy) could qualify as a mountain wine?

I visited Valtellina 2 years ago for the first time in 20 years, and was totally amazed by the dramatic steepness of the gorgeous vineyards and at more significant altitude than the French ones discussed here. I did not, in the end, write anything about it, but there are some cracking producers of mountain Nebbiolo (named Chiavennasca) there - look out for Ar.Pe.Pe., and Nino Negri who both should be in the USA.
And yes, Aosta - with in its northern reaches the highest Alpine vineyards, makes some fascinating wines.
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[WTN] Domaine Labbé 2011 "Abymes" Vin de Savoie

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:11 pm

Domaine Labbé 2011 "Abymes" Vin de Savoie is a crisp, fresh white made by Marc and Roger Labbé in the historic Savoie region of eastern France, in the Alpine territory where France meets Switzerland and Northwestern Italy. It comes in an old-fashioned looking green bottle embossed with "Vin de Savoie" and the Cross of Savoie, an ancient coat of arms awarded the region's rulers during the Crusades.

Savoie's Abymes region lies at the foot of the towering cliffs of Mont Granier in the Massif de la Chartreuse, a rocky landscape left when a nearby hillside collapsed catastrophically in the 13th century. Vineyards occupy its most sunny clay and limestone slopes, with almost every south and eastward slope in vines. The name "Abymes" comes from the French word for the broken stones that still sometimes fall from the mountain during avalanches.

Labbé Abymes is made entirely from the local Jacquere grape, and is fermented in stainless steel only, with no presence of oak, ensuring a crisp, fresh character.

Domaine Labbé 2011 "Abymes" Vin de Savoie ($12.99)

Clear, pale gold in color, its fresh, subtle pear and lemon aromas lead into a crisp white-fruit flavor with a citric snap. Light-bodied, but mouth-watering acidity and perhaps just a touch of prickly petillance give it a mouth-filling presence nonetheless. Combined with light 11% alcohol, it's fine with food or for aperitif service. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Mason, Ohio. (Feb. 20, 2013)

FOOD MATCH: Well suited with lighter-style poultry or mild white fish, it was very good with with a lightly spicy Sichuan-style stir-fry of shredded tofu, snow peas and onions, ginger and garlic.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's a drink-me-soon wine style, and the slick-sleeve, foam-interior synthetic stopper doesn't inspire confidence in its cellar-worthiness. Although they're free from cork “taint,” I've found these plastic plugs less than trustworthy for keeping light whites more than a year or two after bottling. This 2011, however, was fine.

VALUE: The $13 I paid locally is not far off the $12 U.S. median reported by Wine-Searcher.com. It's a good value.

PRONUNCIATION:
Abymes = "Ah-beem"
Savoie = "Sah-v'wah"

WEB LINK:
Here's an info sheet on Marc and Roger Labbé and their Abymes Vin de Savoie.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and check prices for Domaine Labbé 2011 "Abymes" Vin de Savoie on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Jenise » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:34 pm

The other day the remaining three bottles of a sparkling Jura I remember as being quite decent at $20 three-four few years ago got marked down to essentially $13, so I snapped up one which was so good that this morning I went back for the other two. These bottles must be from the same batch I originally tasted as the color and flavor of bottle age is evident--in all the good ways. Yellow-into-gold now, the 100% chardonnay NV Hubert Clavellin & Fils Brut Comte Cremant de Jura is bold on the palate with flavors of baked butter biscuits, applesauce, preserved lemon and caramel custard. Bubbles are big but persistent and lasting, so I need not rush my remaining bottles. Wouldn't be mistaken for champagne, but what it lacks in refinement it more than makes up for in enthusiasm. Great aperitif for a sunny day outdoors.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:37 am

Wink Lorch :
Oh, and Tim, re. Adrien Vacher, in my view this large négociant is not a good representative for Savoie on the whole, but I guess the wines are available where you are...


Most of the producers whom you recommend, Wink, have importers in Belgium but not within a radius of 20km from where I live. I have to go to boutique cavistes in Liège (round trip 200km) or Brussels (round trip 55km) in nightmare parking zones to find them. I did manage to buy the following Mondeuse (red) at Brussels’ top gourmet store (with own parking facilities) but I’m sure that I could do better at one of the boutique cavistes.

Vin de Savoie Mondeuse Les Rocailles 2011 – Pierre Boniface – Alc.12.5% - (c.€9). The first sniff after extracting the (plastic) cork was promising with nicely ivy tinged red fruit and pepper but in the glass it seemed more diffuse. The palate was medium bodied with decent fruit and attractively peppery component but the acidity became rather astringent towards the finish. The overall impression was a little rustic which I might have enjoyed more with the lamb main course if there had been less astringence; this, however, was attenuated with Tome and mature Cheddar cheeses. Some writers claim that best Mondeuse can rival good Northern Rhône Syrah; not this one. Fairly good 14.5/20.

This reminds me that I tasted a range of Savoie wines at the Salon des Jeunes Vignerons, which I attended mainly to meet and taste the range of Jonathan Hesford from Roussillon. Here is a slightly edited and enhanced version of the note which I have already posted about them.

I particularly liked the range from Domaine Grisard (Savoie) where many unusual but attractive flavours were available from local grape varieties. The experience was enhanced by the fact that the Grisards were a charming and informative couple, albeit not very “jeunes”.
I enjoyed the mineral whites, Jacquère 2011 (floral aromas, quite light with a grapey note) and Roussette de Savoie 2010 (fuller, fleshier and less floral) and the rare Mondeuse blanche 2011, which Jonathan likened to Viognier, but I thought without the frequent heaviness of that grape. On the other hand the Chardonnay 2010, though inoffensive, was comparatively boring.

I also liked the exuberantly fruity and peppery basic red Mondeuse VV 2011 (I regret not having bought some because with hindsight better than the Boniface) and the quite rare Persan 2011 with its attractive ivy tang and bitter touch on the finish. I liked less the more polished and wooded Mondeuse Prestige et tradition 2011, though it probably has more ageing potential.


This Grisard is, I think, the brother of Michel Grisard who runs the Prieuré Saint-Chrisophe estate, which is recommended by Wink. Different estates with the same family name are a hazard in most wine growing regions but particularly in Savoie where there are numerous different Quénard estates as well as the Grisards.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Wink Lorch » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:53 am

Tim York wrote:This Grisard is, I think, the brother of Michel Grisard who runs the Prieuré Saint-Chrisophe estate, which is recommended by Wink. Different estates with the same family name are a hazard in most wine growing regions but particularly in Savoie where there are numerous different Quénard estates as well as the Grisards.


Yes indeed, Domaine Grisard is now run by Jean-Pierre Grisard (no, not jeune!). To complicate things further, Jean-Pierre used to run the estate with the 3rd brother Philippe, but as of 2010 he has gone his own way, running Domaine Philippe Grisard in the village of Cruet. (Michel Grisard has not worked with his brothers for many years). Both Domaine Grisard and Philippe Grisard are also nursery businesses, enabling them to one of the first to offer a Mondeuse Blanche wine, but also Persan (as mentioned in my previous comment).
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by David M. Bueker » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:46 pm

2010 Domaine Belluard Gringet Vin de Savoie Le Feu
Only took me to the 17th to get to the bottle I had planned on opening since the 1st. Anyway, it's more than interesting, with green peach and grassy elements, followed by a vaguely almond element. There's a salinity to the back end as well. I'm really not sure how I feel about this wine, but it is likely to be good as a food partner rather than a food substitute.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by JC (NC) » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:47 pm

Thanks for pointing me towards Cave Taureau in Durham for some Savoie or Jura wines. I visited there March 15 and they did indeed have at least five wines that qualified. I purchased a red and a white.

2010 Maison Angelot Bugey Mondeuse. Savoie, France. Imported by Charles Neal Selections, Richmond, CA. Purchased for $17.99. 12% abv. Artificial cork. Label calls Mondeuse the king of Savoie red grapes. Burgundy color with semi-transparency. A sniff of tobacco or fall leaves on the nose. Berry flavors with raspberry coming to mind. Reminds me a bit
of a Gamay wines. Pleasant but not exceptional. I had it with stuffed bell pepper and with beef stew, using about two cups of the wine in the stew. Label recommends drinking it with hearty foods.

This week I will open the white wine from Savoie.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:22 pm

One of the most original offerings of the Jura region is Vin Jaune, which is made from Savagnin in an oxidative style under a veil of yeast (voile in French) similar to the "flor" in the Jerez region. There is a distant similarity in taste with that of dry sherry.

I would have liked to open one but don't see a suitable pairing emerging in the next few days. This leads me to resurrect a 4 year old TN on a couple, one of which was extremely interesting example from a traditional producer, though unlikely to be universally popular.

Vin Jaune – Côtes du Jura – 1999 – Sélection Caves de la Muyre – Alc. 13.5% - (€19)
“Sandre au vin jaune et aux morilles” was on the home menu last night and this one was bought for the sauce. But first I sampled it.
C: Deepish yellow.
N: Very nicely nutty and freshly oxidative as is appropriate.
P: A pity to sacrifice this for the sauce. Very pleasant and quite soft nuttiness. Returning after sampling the Puffeney, however, it seemed a little bland, a tad sweet and somewhat short; 15.5/20.

Arbois Vine Jaune 1995 – Jacques Puffeney – Alc. 14% - (€29 ex-cellars for 2001)
This was a weird wine from a much respected producer; “excellent in parts” like the famous curate’s egg.
C: Much deeper yellow.
N: A nose like this on, say, a white Burgundy would get it consigned down the sink without tasting. More than nutty and sherry-like, it displayed rancid cheesy notes with a touch of cabbage and Germaine declared that it also smelled of paint stripper (VA?). It tended to get less aggressive with airing which suggests that I should have decanted.
P: Mercifully the unpleasant aromas from the nose took a back seat on the palate and contributed acceptably to complexity. The overwhelming impression was intense minerality and excitingly bracing and tangy acidity with enough “gras”, fine shape and great length. All this was too much for Germaine who reverted to the first wine but I found that the palate worked with the sauce and went wonderfully with the goat cheese, Selles-sur-Cher, but also more surprisingly with a very ripe Camembert; the first wine I have found to pierce such a soft pungent texture clinging to my palate. What a shame that before each sip, my nose had to suffer that unpleasant bouquet. So 11/20 for the nose and 17/20 for the palate.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Rahsaan » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:13 pm

Tim York wrote:Arbois Vine Jaune 1995 – Jacques Puffeney – Alc. 14% - (€29 ex-cellars for 2001)
N: A nose like this on, say, a white Burgundy would get it consigned down the sink without tasting. More than nutty and sherry-like, it displayed rancid cheesy notes with a touch of cabbage and Germaine declared that it also smelled of paint stripper (VA?). It tended to get less aggressive with airing which suggests that I should have decanted.


Yes, vin jaune is a wine that earns the right to be called 'difficult'. I have always struggled with it.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Rahsaan » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:14 pm

JC (NC) wrote:Thanks for pointing me towards Cave Taureau in Durham for some Savoie or Jura wines. I visited there March 15 and they did indeed have at least five wines that qualified. I purchased a red and a white..


I was there on March 16! And should have bought some wines for this theme. But for whatever reason ended up with Baudry Franc de Pied and an ESJ.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by David M. Bueker » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:36 pm

Just curious - are there any good resources (e..g books) on the Jura or Savoie?
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:26 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Just curious - are there any good resources (e..g books) on the Jura or Savoie?


Good question!

A visit to the Amazon UK site reveals nothing sounding worthwhile and Amazon France is little better and only in French. However a book is being written on Jura wine and guess by whom.......Wink Lorch , of course, http://jurawine.co.uk/ and scroll about half way down the page for more details.

She has also written a piece like the one on Savoie for the UK Wine Pages http://www.wine-pages.com/guests/wink/jura.htm .

In French, the annual French guides which I buy (RVF's and Bettane/Desseauve) devote chapters to these regions as does Guide Hachette which also covers Switzerland and Luxembourg. There are also occasional articles in the RVF magazine.

I don't recall articles in Decanter when I subscribed but I dropped it about three years ago.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by David M. Bueker » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:55 pm

Wink - details please!!!
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Wink Lorch » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:52 pm

Thank you David and thank you Tim!

There has never been a book in English on Jura. There was a book on Savoie in the early 1990s to tie in with the Albertville Olympics! The last comprehensive book on Jura written even in French came out in 1999.

So yes I am currently writing a book on the Jura to be self-published with a release early next-year. Yes, I could have done (and may still have to) an e-book but I think the producers and the region deserves a 'proper' book, edited and with decent photographs, maps and design - this is my intention and will cover everything from the usual history, grapes, terroir etc. to profiles of around 100 producers. There will also be food and travel tips.

This question is great timing because tomorrow I'm launching a Kickstarter project to raise funds for the printed book to go ahead (NB: not funds for me, but funds for the production process). Yes, it's far in advance, but I need to know for photography reasons among others, which will all be explained on the project page. The link goes to my profile on Kickstarter which will link to the project when it's live sometime tomorrow if all goes well (Kickstarter have already approved it). Of course, the main 'reward' I'm offering is effectively an advanced purchase of the book itself but there are other travel-related rewards that may be of interest - and everyone will get acknowledged in the book too.

One of the reasons for self-publishing - and I think you all know how hard it is to find wine book publishing deals - is that I did not want to do a combined book on Savoie (+Bugey) and Jura, because I don't think it would do either region justice and they really have so little in common. It's high time they were separated. Also, presuming my Jura book is a reasonable success, I intend to write a 2nd book on Wines of the French Alps, of course majoring on Savoie and Bugey, but with a few other gems too from further south. But that won't be till 2015/16 I guess...

In the meantime, I have written lots on Savoie that's more recent than the Wine Pages article, which is really old though that's a good intro. Most on Savoie is found on my winetravelmedia.com blog these days (see my signature). I have lots of links to articles I've written on Jura here.

So all encouragement really appreciated, and thanks for asking David!
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by David M. Bueker » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:46 am

THanks for the summary Wink. Sounds exciting. Let me (us) know when the project goes live.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:11 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:THanks for the summary Wink. Sounds exciting. Let me (us) know when the project goes live.


I just got this on my Facebook page -

Announcing the Kickstarter campaign for the Jura Wine book - thanks for help on names, we kept it simple in the end! Pledging in this campaign will give me huge encouragement as well as financing the production and part of the printing of the book - and you will get your name in the book too! Please can you help share this around... Thank you! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/win ... e-the-book

Maybe Wink will tell us more.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Wink Lorch » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:51 pm

Thank you again, David and Tim - for some reason I didn't get the alerts on your postings...

Yes, the Kickstarter project for my Jura wine book is live now and runs for a month. The funds are very much for producing a professional book and will go towards the first print run. They do not fund my ongoing research. The project itself will give me a personal boost to encourage me to crack on and finish this when I said I would, meaning that the book will be available from March next year. Not having a publisher pushing me, means that instead I will have those who have pledged money to the project (mostly to get the book as a 'Reward' £25 which is currently about US$40 or €30), to whom I've promised an end date.

Please do read the project blurb to find out what will be in the book, but it will be relatively conventional for a wine book with history (including profiles of key people), terroir, grapes, wine styles (very important in Jura) etc. along with profiles (stories and wines made) of around 100 producers. There will also be smaller sections on cheeses and other local foods, plus travel tips. The main thing you won't find are tasting notes - not my style and I think there's enough of you on here doing them :) plus as you know, tasting notes go out of date immediately and I want this book to stay in date for a while. I hope this gives you a flavour of the book to come.

Later I hope to do an on-line version too, that should have more to it.... if funds allow.

Please take a look at the project for more info and thanks so much for your support. If anyone here is active on any of the other forums (shock, horror!) would be grateful if you could share the project link if you think it's appropriate. Thanks again!
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Salil » Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:31 pm

2011 Domaine Tissot (André & Mireille now Stéphane) Poulsard Arbois Vieilles Vignes
I've seen rosé that was darker than this. This is an incredibly pale red colour with pretty aromatics; citrus fruits, a little earthy funk and a surprising briny note. There's fresh citrus and red berried fruit on the palate, but this feels light to the point of coming across a little dilute and it's not particularly interesting.

I'm more optimistic about the Puffeney Pinot Noir lined up for some time next week...
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by JC (NC) » Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:06 pm

2011 Peillot Altesse Roussette de Bugey, Montagnieu, Bugey, France. Louis/Dressner Selection. $20.99 at Cave Taureau, Durham. 12.5% alchohol. Famille Peillot, Vignerons. Light gold color. Apple note on nose and palate. Some mineral notes. A little tart. I paired the first night with fried shrimp, roasted potatoes and a tossed salad. It probably would pair nicely with Waldorf salad or perhaps pork and apples or apple sauce. Tonight I had it with a broccoli quiche and squash soup. It paired well with the squash soup. (I have also had good results in the past pairing squash soup with a rich-tasting Vouvray.) It was a decent wine but I didn't find it exciting enough to want to revisit.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Rahsaan » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:55 pm

JC (NC) wrote:2011 Peillot Altesse Roussette de Bugey...It was a decent wine but I didn't find it exciting enough to want to revisit.


I have felt that way about previous vintages of the wine. But then again I never explored it in great depth or with any real age.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:06 pm

This is to remind people about Jura Whisky http://www.jurawhisky.com/home.aspx .

Different Jura, though :wink: .
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:19 am

WTN: 2009 Domaine Rolet Arbois Nature de Jura.

Finally after 26 days! My second bottle, $26 Cdn, good natural cork, opened for 30 mins.

Pale medium yellow, some nutty tones on the nose, minerally, hint of creaminess, apple melon. After an hour open, something here unusual..is it yeast or flor? Not something one would expect to come across in most whites eh.
Tangy acidity, citrus, nutty in background. Very focused wine here, great length, very crisp..."not all that oxidized" from across the table. Medium bodied, plenty of citrus, melon. Tastes better than it smells! And some compare to Chardonnay? Not sure about that.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Wink Lorch » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:54 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:WTN: 2009 Domaine Rolet Arbois Nature de Jura.
Pale medium yellow, some nutty tones on the nose, minerally, hint of creaminess, apple melon. After an hour open, something here unusual..is it yeast or flor? Not something one would expect to come across in most whites eh.
Tangy acidity, citrus, nutty in background. Very focused wine here, great length, very crisp..."not all that oxidized" from across the table. Medium bodied, plenty of citrus, melon. Tastes better than it smells! And some compare to Chardonnay? Not sure about that.

Naturé is an old Arbois name for Savagnin, and several producers including Rolet now use it to identify their topped-up (ouillé) version of Savagnin. That unusual smell would not be flor, no, it is more likely the smell that seems to come through so often on Jura white wines (both Chardonnay and Savagnin) when vines are on the local marl. And no, it's not supposed to be oxidative at all
Wink Lorch - Wine writer, editor and educator
http://winetravelmedia.com and http://jurawine.co.uk
Also http://www.winetravelguides.com
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Salil

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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Salil » Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:42 pm

2009 Jacques Puffeney Pinot Noir Arbois
On release I had found this a little too dense and ripe, reflecting the heat/ripeness of the vintage and not anything near what I'd expect from a Jura Pinot. With a couple of years in the cellar it's changed into something that I like a lot more, still showing rather ripe red fruit but also conveying a savoury earthiness and herbal character around the rich cherry and red berried flavours. The balance is very good with some grainy tannins on the back end and bright acids, and while it has the fruit and balance to age nicely, I'm not regretting opening this at this stage.
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