So excuse me, but my ignorance is going to show a bit here… this is how we learn, right?
At first I wasn’t going to try to join this month’s French Wine and Food pairing challenge on Jura.
I mean I had heard of Jura as a region because I had heard of Wink Lorch’s book on Jura.
But I’d never tasted a wine from Jura, except for a dessert wine, a Vin de Paille.
In fact I’d never even seen a wine from Jura except that one, so I didn’t know where I could buy a bottle, plus I had no clue at all what a wine from Jura was like, or what food you would pair with it.
And then Que Syrah Sue mentioned how much she enjoyed the challenge of doing these food and wine dinners, and learning about the regions, and trying new food and wine. Plus she reminded me how we love how regional foods and wines are so magical together.
So when I realized I would be in LA and could swing by the Wine House where I knew they’d have a selection of Jura, I asked Sue if she wanted to give it a try. Guess what her answer was? Sure!
First we learned that not only are the wines from Jura, rare, special, and hip, they are EXPENSIVE. There are no entry level Jura wines under $25–at least not that I found in LA at the Wine House, and the Wine House has a pretty impressive selection of wine from around the world, so it was a big deal that they even had a few to choose from.
Once I got over the sticker shock, I texted Sue to see if she was still in. And then I committed to not just one bottle of Jura, but two at $42 and $44 each. And one of them, a 2008 Vin Jaune from Domaine De Saint Pierre, wasn’t even full sized! Vin Jaune is the classic wine that Jura is known for, so I knew I needed to get one, but as I was warned that not everyone likes it –that it’s an acquired taste, like sherry– I decided to get the second, a 2014 le Ginglet Trousseau which is a red wine that I was told is also typical of the region and very lightweight.
With two bottles of wine in hand, I left it up to Sue to figure out the menu, and she searched the internet to learn more about the regional cuisine of Jura. We were together for some preliminary searches and we did a lot of oohing and aahing as we learned about the sausages and yummy cheeses and cheese dishes the area is well known for, and if we had any doubts, that sealed the deal (if you haven’t noticed yet, Sue and I are both cheese whores!).
Here’s the menu Sue came up with and prepared single handedly for our party of six adults and one teen:
- Croute au morbier:
toasted baguette with morbier cheese melted
- Croute au morilles:
toasted baguette with wild mushrooms in cream wine sauce with parmesan
- Tossed green salad with thyme honey balsamic vinaigrette
- Fertile combos au Jambon:
ham and comte cheese wrapped in puff pastry (recipe below)
- Coq au vin Jaune served over rice:
dredged chicken in flour, fried in olive oil, braised with white wine, cream, mushrooms, vin jaune
- Steamed broccolini
- Wine poached pears with french vanilla ice cream
The two wines from Jura are interesting, unusual, and possibly even bizarre wines that are not for everyone. In fact, the wine lovers in our party sniffed, swirled, and tasted, and chose to drink more traditional red wines.
The cheeses and foods of the region also have an interesting funk, which pairs so well with these interesting funky wines.
Domaine De Saint Pierre – Arbois – Vin Jaune – 2008 – 12.8% alcohol $42 (375ml)
This very unusual, complex wine is sold the seventh year after harvest in a distinct shaped bottle called a clavelin and is indeed reminiscent of fino sherry, but different. Both sherry and Vin Jaune are influenced by flor, a particular yeasty layer that develops on the wine as it ages, but in the case of Vin Jaune, it is not fortified. The grape variety is Savagnin Blanc (NOT similar to Sauvignon Blanc; instead related to Traminers) but an ancient white wine grape native to the this region of north eastern France near the Swiss border known for its cool climate and heavy clay-limestone soils.
The color, as you can see, is a vibrant yellow, and the hue gives it its name: Jaune, I understand, means yellow in French. On the nose, there’s lemon as well as on the palate plus it’s briny, nutty, and full of minerality. The finish never finishes… it just continues off into the sunset with smoke and a bit of clove snuff lingering.
Turns out that while Vin Jaune is pricey, this one, Arbois, is in the top 20%. I really liked this wine and I will be on the lookout for one that is more in my price range!
Artois Pupillin – Trousseau le Ginguet – 2014 – 12% alcohol SRP $44
I loved this wine right away. It has everything that I love about Pinot Noir (earth, strawberries) AND everything that I love about Grenache (spice, rose petals, body) in one wine! It is a very wild wine — like wild strawberries or huckleberries, it’s tart, light, acidic, and very vibrant.
Trousseau is a dark-skinned wine grape, so it’s surprising that it produces such a moderately colored wine, a very lovely cherry red. Indigenous to Jura, the grape is also grown elsewhere where it is known as Bastardo in Portugal, Merenzao and Verdejo Negro in Spain.
On the nose, we got the funk right away: barnyard, earth, forest floor, clay, very pleasant and fun. Then we found lots of red, wild fruits, cranberries, huckleberries, and pomegranate, followed by floral notes, primarily rose. On the palate, very light and bright with acidic red berries and cherry, and a nice earthy, clay finish.
After inheriting the vineyard from his father, winemaker Philippe Bornard decided to make wine himself . He lives and makes wine in the natural style in the village of Pupillin close to Arbois.
I would buy this wine again in a heartbeat if I found it on sale… I loved the wine, I loved the label. And now I really really want to try this winemaker’s Vin Jaune and his other wines too.
Fertile combos au Jambon Recipe:
While both wines went well with the regional cheeses and foods, our favorite pairing was with cheese and ham in puff pastry, also known as Fertile combos au Jambon.
This is a delightful, elegant yet simple and versatile food that can be an appetizer, a main course, or breakfast. Here’s Sue’s interpretation: she bought frozen puff pastry, defrosted it, cut it into strips about 8 x 4, layered rosemary ham and comte cheese, put egg around the edges, folded them over, and cooked them at 400 degrees until they were brown and toasty. We loved them with every wine we had on the table–and our party drank quite a few bottles of wine that night! I can’t wait to experiment with these this winter with different fillings and different wines. And the leftovers would make an awesome breakfast too.
Learn more about Jura in this guest blog post on BinNotes by Wink Lorch.
Check out other Jura wines and food pairs!
- Finding Jura by L’ocassion
- My Kingdom for a Bresse Chicken by FoodWineClick
- Totally Digging the Jurassic World of #Wine by Rockin’ Red Blog
- To the Jura with Vin Jaune, Toétché, Wild Mushrooms, & Comté by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Pulled Pork with Cabbage and Bacon by David from Cooking Chat