The Jura region is a hotpot of exciting and original whites, providing a gamut of styles from the fresh and crisp savagnin and chardonnays which are topped up (ouillé, pronounced “oo-yay”), to the oxidative, rich and nutty styles left purposely under-filled to encourage a veil of flor to develop (sous voile). Minerality is a recurrent theme, that threads both styles together. And then there’s the vin de paille, macvin de jura and the holy grail, vin jaune! As for the reds, don’t be fooled by their paler profiles, their lively and crunchy personalities reverberate with refreshment. Poulsard (or ploussard by another name), pinot noir and trousseau are the regional specialties.
Located in the north west of France, sandwiched between Burgundy and the Alps of Switzerland, the small and traditional region of Jura accounts for a minuscule .2% of France’s total production. Only 10% of the wines are exported, hence their rarity and near impossibility to find! Limestone cliffs and hillocks upon which the best vines are planted, imbue electric currents of acidity into the wines, allowing them to live on forever.
We’ve managed to secure very small amounts of two extraordinary producers, Domaine Labet and Rousset-Martin. Both of these dynamic houses tend to prefer the freshness and purity of the ouillé styles. Lovers of Burgundy will delight in these thoughtful wines, brimming with individuality. The rise of ouillé wines has propelled the personalities of the vineyards of Jura into the limelight, highlighting terroir over technique, which makes for exciting times ahead.
Read on for our deciphering on these special estates.
Famed American wine importer, Kermit Lynch has this to say: ‘Vinified by climat with little to no sulphur and bottled unfined and unfiltered, the Rousset wines are complex and persistent, falling somewhere along the spectrum of floral and delicate, exotic and savoury.’
After growing up in Burgundy, François Martin has returned to his Jurassic roots. Working just 4.5ha, he sells the rest of his grapes to the local co-op, allowing him to focus on his individual plots and their needs. Rousset has four different cellars, each with their own temperature and humidity, highlighting the extreme consideration he bestows on his wines.
The majority of his wines are topped up, not oxidative, and come from some of the best plots of Château Chalon, labeled as Côtes du Jura. The wine nerds among us will be aware that the Château Chalon designation is reserved only for oxidative styles, in particular vin jaune.
Please note we have only a very small amount of these wines, send us your wish list and we will do our best to fill it. The tasting notes below are courtesy of their Australian importer, Andrew Guard who was at the domaine last year.
2015 Rousset-Martin Cuvée Mémée Marie
~ Chardonnay & Savagnin (which is raised sous-voile for 3 months), average 40 year old vines from gray marl soils
‘Shimmering, light and bright aromas – passionfruit, peach pit – beautifully crisp. Tank only, very attractive salty/sour fruit. Juicy and delicious mouthfeel with mouthwatering finish, this is pretty great and delicious.’
2015 Rousset-Martin Savagnin ‘Puits St Pierre’
‘This is from vines on the best part of Château Chalon, it has a brilliant multi-dimension. 6 months sous-voile then topped up for the rest of the elevage. Pure and refined yet very powerful.’
2015 Rousset-Martin ‘Cuvee du Professeur’ Sous Roche
‘Late picked savagnin from some of the best plots of Château Chalon on gray marl. An energetic and reverberating style with underlying tension and power. Beautiful saline edge.’
2015 Rousset-Martin Chardonnay ‘La Chaux’
‘This is from very venerable terroir on Château Chalon and resembles a hypothetical blend of the Gravieres and Terres Blanches – bright, long and very fine. As with all of these, it will make a grand old bottle. Contemplative.’
2015 Rousset-Martin Chardonnay ‘Gravieres’
‘From old vines; lovely ripe nose of pear and red apple with a puff of chalk and minerals. Full in the mouth, this is regal with long length and the finesse and quality of terroir is evident on the long finish. Super!’
2014 Rousset-Martin Chardonnay ‘Terres Blanches’
‘This is lighter in colour and younger vines than the Gravieres and has a wonderful citrus/hazelnut complexity. The malo is perfect and gives the finish a lovely creamy dimension. Very impressive length and balance.’
2014 Rousset-Martin Trousseau
‘Lovely bright translucent cherry colour. In the mouth, the attraction of the beauty of the Jura comes into play – pure, crisp, pretty red fruit that is simultaneously savage and sweet – super drinkable!’
Siblings Julien, Charline and Romain are now at the forefront of this estate, having taken over from their esteemed parents, Alain and Josie. While Alain trialled organic agriculture in the 70’s (alongside famed Jura maker Pierre Overnoy), the next generation are now fully flying with it. Like Rousset-Martin, they use minimal, if any sulphur and champion the ouilé style, showcasing special plots of old vines, making over 30 labels from 12 hectares!
Julien Labet loves the transparency of the wines made in the ouillé style, which his courageous father pioneered in the 90’s. These wines sit at the top rung of the region. The riper 2015 vintage favours the reds, fleshing out their cores, while the cooler 2014 has created nervy and scintillating whites. The Labet reds are energetic yet soulful and have a beautiful immediacy about them, especially the 2015s.
The tasting notes below are courtesy of their Australian importer, Andrew Guard who was at the domaine last year.
2015 Labet Metis Nature
~ Poulsard, Trousseau, Pinot, Gamay
‘Light delicate ruby colour, airy delicate nose of red roses, strawberry & rosehip. Pretty. Super wine, very juicy, sapid and long in the mouth.’
2015 Labet Poulsard En Billat
‘Bright rusty ruby, vibrant and pure – wild strawberries, root vegetables. Very crunchy, lean, compact and juicy, lovely acid & freshness.’
2015 Labet Pinot Noir Varrons
‘Lovely nose, deep sweet and enchanting – cherry, strawberry, very faint barrel. This is super, sweet, long and delicious’
2014 Labet Chardonnay Lias
‘Super nose, lemon jelly, vibrant attractive and clear. Very dense and saline – super in the mouth, lovely line and length.’
2014 Labet Chardonnay Les Champs
‘Racy, nervy and tight. Very pure racy and vibrant. This is superb, loads of energy and drive. To keep.’
2014 Labet Chardonnay En Billat
‘Alpine fresh nose, direct, linear and nervy. Great chewy richness and mineral depth, has a sinewy concentration. To keep.’
TO ORDER: As quantities are extremely limited, please send us your wish-list and we’ll do our best to fill your order. Click here to send a reply email or call us on (03) 9654 6657.