Dorbon has three hectares of organically tended vines on prime south-facing slopes above his home village of Vadans; a horse to help him plow; and a subterranean 16th-century cellar in which his soulful wines slowly take shape. Dorbon and Michel Gahier are close friends and share a certain combination of dyed-in-the-wool Jurassien spirit and boundary-pushing thoughtfulness. Vadans, a sleepy little village even for the Jura, contains soils of yellow marl, which tend to produce reds of great finesse and whites of chiseled complexity, and Dorbon’s wines follow suit; yet, like the greatest wines in the region, they are both deeply evocative of place and distinctly Joseph’s own. He works his land without chemicals, plows by horse—a difficult practice which he learned from his uncle—and harvests by hand. His cellar practices are minimal and steeped in Jura tradition: spontaneous fermentations without temperature regulation; aging sous-voile for his white wines; minimal (and sometimes no) additions of sulfur; and bottling of the white wines only after significant time in cask.
Jean-François Ganevat’s family has been in the region for centuries, dating to at least the 1600s, and likely earlier. He grew up in the winery and vineyards, working side by side with his parents. After formal training in Beaune, he went to work for Jean-Marc Morey in Chassagne, where he stayed for 9 years as the estate’s maître de chai. In 1998 he returned to the Jura and took over the family estate.
Ganevat is notoriously meticulous in both vineyard and cellar. For all that attention to detail, he is also prodigious in the number of cuvées produced each vintage, yielding as many as fifty separate bottlings depending on the vintage. Including himself and his sister Anne, the domaine employs 9 full-time, year-round workers to manage the winery and the 8.5 hectares of vines. At harvest, the grapes are destemmed manually, with each grape individually cut from the bunch with scissors, leaving just a half-centimeter of stem. It’s this kind of commitment that makes the wines as good as they unquestionably are.
Ganevat’s wines also stand out stylistically, in particular those that are aged sous voile. Firstly, like all the best producers, Ganevat does not use cultured yeasts to initiate the veil, sadly a very common practice in the region. More uniquely, his research into the Jura’s winemaking history has convinced him that the use of smaller Burgundian barrels for sous voile wines is a relatively recent development. So Ganevat uses much larger vats, resulting in proportionately less contact with the veil, lower evaporation per volume, and therefore a less pronounced oxidative quality and a lively freshness that’s more associated with the ouillé Jura wines.
This domaine, situated in the center of the village of Pupillin, in the heart of the Arbois appellation, is three generations old. Mikael Crinquand tends the viticultural side of this multi-faceted family operation. The Overnoy-Crinquand families have always managed their holdings within Pupillin in a poly-cultural, organic fashion, tending seventy cows to produce milk for the famous Comté cheese of the region, harvesting grains and cereals and producing wine from the 5.5 hectares dedicated to vineyards. The vineyards, situated entirely within Pupillin, are on severe slopes within the area known as “La Bidode”. All farming is organic and that has been the case since the establishment of the domaine many decades ago. The vineyards are planted to a mix of the classic varieties of the Jura: two hectares of Ploussard, one hectare of Trousseau, one hectare of Savagnin and one and one-half hectares of Chardonnay. All harvesting is done by hand. The vinification and elevage of the wines is traditional, giving the wines the pronounced and unique expression of the terroir of the Jura. Currently, 90% of the production is sold to private clients and only a very small amount is imported to the United States.
The Gahier family has been in the Jura since 1525. The family domaine is 6.5 hectares with the vineyards concentrated in the village of Montigny-les-Arsures, the place most ecognized as the home of Trousseau. Michel Gahier has learned from the best, particularly the great Jacques Puffeney. He and Gahier are neighbors and friends, both living in Montigny-les-Arsures, a viticultural district that is acknowledged to produce some of the finest wines of the Arbois appellation. His observations and ongoing dialogue with Puffeney have instilled skills and sensibility that produce undeniably outstanding wines that clearly express the very particular terroir of this corner of the Jura. Gahier harvests and vinifies his wines parcel by parcel. Each wine ultimately is derived exclusively from a single vineyard site. His whites are produced “sous voile”, although the “Les Crets” cuvée is less dominated by that process than the “La Fauquette” or the “Les Follasses” bottlings which spend considerably more time aging in barrel. The Savagnin and the Vin Jaune are both classic versions, a testament to the old traditions of the Jura where the whites are left in barrel without topping up. The reds are as mineral-driven as one could expect from the Jura, with a freshness and length that are compelling. The viticulture is organic, although not certified.
Born and bred in the Jura, Elise and Emeric Foléat began Les Matheny in 2007, and their holdings today encompass three and a half hectares of vines spread among Arbois, Montigny-les-Arsures, and Poligny. In the rustic old farmhouse they converted into a winery, thoughtful experimentation rooted in local tradition is their operative philosophy. Giving concession neither to easy marketability nor to the notion of a “product line,” the Foléats take each harvest as it comes, vinifying and aging certain parcels separately if the notion strikes them, keeping a cask or two under voile for an extra-long time if the underlying material proves worthy, and topping up their barrels occasionally, partially, and based purely on taste and instinct. While both enologist and marketer alike may consider Les Matheny a baffling operation, those who value character in wine will find a deep well of authenticity and beauty here.
Domaine Pêcheur began producing wine in 1976 from a single hectare of vineyards. Located in Darbonnay, in the Cotes du Jura appellation. The domaine now extends over eight hectares with vineyards primarily situated on the hillside slopes of the villages of Darbonnay and Passenans with an extension into the fabled town of Voiteur for the production of Chateau Chalon.
The vineyards are planted to the classic Jura mix of grape types: Chardonnay, Savagnin, Ploussard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir. The average age of the vineyards varies from between 35 to 50 years. The grapes destined to produce the Crémant and the still white wines, aside from the Vin Jaune and the Chateau Chalon, are planted to rocky, pebbly soil rich in dolomite. The red grape varieties are planted on soil of “marne rouges” (red marlstone). The Savagnin harvested for purposes of production of Vin Jaune and Chateau-Chalon is planted to the classic and required “marne bleu”.
Nicole Deriaux’s Domaine de Montbourgeau makes up nine hectares of Chardonnay, Savagnin, Trousseau and Poulsard vines in the tiny appellation of l’Etoile (which has a total of 52 hectares of vineyards). The viticulture at Montbourgeau is organic and the vinification is strictly in line with the ancient, traditional practices of the region. Nicole Deriaux’s natural approach to every step of the process captures the true essence of the appellation in each of the separate bottlings done at the domaine.
Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant de Jura
Domaine de Montbourgeau l’Etoile
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