The unexpected from the Jura: chardonnay

If you’re enough of a wine geek to know about the Jura, a wine-growing region near the French-Swiss border, then chances are that you know some of the Jura’s trademark wines like vin jaune or macvin, or its signature grape, savagnin.  What fewer people know is that there are a surprising number of very good chardonnays from the Jura that could fool many tasters into thinking they were from Burgundy, the benchmark region for chardonnay.

The chardonnays from the Jura that I have tasted range from nervy and tension-filled to richer, more opulent styles, but across the range of styles many of the wines showed a flinty minerality on the nose that lend a lot of fragrant, burgundy-like interest to the wines.  Next time you’re looking to have a Chassagne-Montrachet or a Meursault, try a chardonnay from the Jura instead – you might be surprised by what you taste.  Here are a few wines I’d recommend:

  • 2008 Domaine de Saint Pierre Arbois Les Brûlées – France, Jura, Arbois (7/3/2011)Has pretty, pleasing fruit on the nose and palate, which is given dimension by flinty rock aromas that carry some minerality through to the palate. As good as a lot of premier cru wines from heralded villages of Burgundy like Puligny-Montrachet or Meursault, this is another example of how good some of the chardonnays coming from the Jura really are. 91-92+ (92 points)
  • 2008 Domaine Labet Côtes du Jura Fleur de Marne En Chalasse – France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (4/11/2011)Has a savory aspect, hard to articulate- maybe oxidative but in any case there’s something really appealing about this. On the palate; very tasty with an uncommon combination of unctuousness yet very crisp acidity. Smooth, pretty – I really dig this wine, and the whole range really. 90-92+ (92 points)
  • 2009 Domaine Tissot (André & Mireille now Stéphane) Arbois Les Corvées Sous Curon – France, Jura, Arbois (4/11/2011)Has a pretty flinty nose; balanced with good tart acidity. Not as rich as the Labet wines, but very nice with a crispness to it. 90-92 (91 points)
  • 2007 Domaine Labet Côtes du Jura Fleur de Marne en Billat – France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (4/11/2011)Has an interesting flinty smoke mineral nose. Quite a delicious chardonnay – very Burg-like. Has a crispness that makes one think of Chablis, but there is some oak and butteriness that makes it feel a bit more opulent. 90-92 (91 points)

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