Friday, October 5, 2012

The Great Debate; jura vs. chablis

When you ask most people with careers in the wine industry how they got there, there is usually a specific wine that got them there. By that I mean it is usually from drinking one exceptional glass/bottle of wine that makes a person say, "I want to make wine like this" or "I want to sell wine like this", ect. This proverbial bottle can often change over the years but there's always a first.
For DH it was an '06 Auteur Manchester Ridge Pinot Noir.
For me, it was the 2010 Domaine Alain Labet, Cotes du Jura Chardonnay, Fleurs, just a few months ago. (Well, technically it was a bottle of '06 Stemmler Pino Noir drank almost 5 years ago but that has more to do with first understanding why DH had chosen the path to winemaking.)   
VIN JAUNE; oxidizing white wine
I was skeptical at first to drink a Jura wine, assuming all Jura's were 'Vin Jaune', sherry-like wine aged up to 6 years in Burgundian oak and allowed to oxidize over time. The result is an intense flavor not for the faint of heart (moi!).
But while this is the most famous wine from the region, there are some extraordinary Chardonnay producers from Jura as well.
The 'Flueurs' Cotes du Jura Chardonnay is the polar opposite of a Vin Jaune; utterly bright and crisp while still posessing a dynamic tannic profile and complexity.
We bought a cold bottle to accompany our fish sandwiches from Oakland's gem, Market Hall for an impromptu picnic a few months back. It was a nothing day which made the wine shine all the more.
One sip in and I was hooked. I declared to DH, "I want to make wine just like this." He sweetly concurred, "yes, let's." and with that we carried on with our picnic.
*     *      *
As our first foray (together) into the winemaking process is fast upon us, we revisited the Jura Chardonnay conversation more in depth yesterday.
Labet's Jura Chardonnay is made with some skin:juice contact (meaning the grape skins are in with the pressed wine grape juice during fermentation), producing the tannic complexity so distinct in the wine. 
Do note, this skin:juice contact is brief as prolonged contact during fermentation would lead to an orange wine. Most red wines go through the entire fermentation process with skin:juice contact.
While DH loved the Jura wine equally, he felt it imperative to taste it against a Chardonnay produced in a similar process (i.e. neutral oak, low alcohol, native fermentation) without skin:juice contact. 
We purchased the same 2010 Domaine Alain Labet, Cotes du Jura Chardonnay, Fleurs along with a 2011 Vendanges Chablis by Patrick Piuze. 
I whipped up a Thai mussel soup and an heirloom tomato salad to pair with these two crisp whites while we watched the first of the Presidential Debates. Two debates in one night, imagine that.
The tannic structure of the Jura definitely stood out from the Chablis but it was arguably impossible to say which one we preferred. Both wines were high acid, low alcohol so while great on their own, they both paired exceptionally well with food. We'd be happy making both wine styles!
So while we are still unsure of just what Chardonnay we will make this harvest, the debate on the table was far more interesting than the one on the screen! zing!


  1. if you are in the wine industry, what was the bottle that brought you to it?
    inquiring minds want to know!

  2. I'm a big fan of this post. And of all your posts! xo

  3. Mine was a 1997 St. Francis Merlot (in 2006)! How funny is that? And I think it was a Pinot that DH tried from Auteur... Or maybe the Hyde Chard?

    This is Dan btw, not sure why it says unknown...

  4. You are right, it was the Pinot not the Chard...the correction has been made. That's cool that it was St. F, given the history w. Sara and all