Jura is a small wine region located in eastern France on the border of Switzerland. It's known for Comté cheese, Bresse chicken, and Montbéliard sausages, which are smoked over sawdust. Jura is also famous as the home of Louis Pasteur, the microbiologist who invented pasteurisation.
As a wine region, Jura remains relatively obscure and its wines niche products, although its fan base is growing steadily. Its best-known wine is Vin Jaune (yellow wine), which wine expert Hugh Johnson describes as "an odd white wine like a fino sherry". Other wines of note are the sparkling wines; the Cremant du Jura is made by methode champenoise and can offer great value for money. Dry whites include savagnin and chardonnay. The chardonnays made in the modern style are similar to Chablis wines with their minerality and taut structure. Red varieties include poulsard and trousseau, while more pinot noir is being planted. In terms of wine style the reds will be paler, lighter bodied and more elegant.
Jura's wines may be difficult to comprehend for those used to drinking fruity, approachable wines. The whites have mineral notes, are austere and have high acidity. Reds may lack the deep colour and rich concentrated fruit that consumers expect. Local importer Ada Leung, however, is a big fan. She loves the wines for their versatility. These are food wines, and can bring out the best in the flavours of many savoury and sweet dishes. Their high acidity makes them refreshing to drink and great palate cleansers.
Frederic Lornet Arbois Ploussard "En Fertand" 2008
Made from the poulsard variety. Very pale brick red in colour. Developed savoury, earthy mushroom notes; some berry notes. Medium-light body, with crisp acidity and firm underlying tannins. This wine works well with rich braised dishes containing dried mushrooms, oysters and abalone. Will also pair with sausage and cut through the fattiness of steak. HK$198
Frederic Lornet Arbois Vin Jaune 2005
Vin Jaune is the region's best-known wine. Made from savagnin, the wine undergoes fermentation twice. The wine is then transferred to used barrels to mature for at least six years without the barrels being topped up. A film of yeast develops giving it a sherry-like flavour.
It is classically paired with Comté cheese. Locally it is a best-seller due to its affinity with crab. Leung describes it as similar to Shaoxing wine.
Almond, walnut, salty, oxidative aromatics. Medium-bodied, with high fruity intensity, salty notes, high acidity and a very dry finish. HK$698
Frederic Lornet Vin de Paille 2006
A sweet wine made from a blend of savagnin and the red grape poulsard, which gives the wine a reddish hue. The grapes are picked early, and air-dried (traditionally on straw mats) for a few months to concentrate sugar levels.
It is aged for at least three years, and has a minimum alcohol level of 14.5 per cent.
Notes of marmalade, dried candied fruit and honey. Full-bodied and complex, with an array of dried fruit flavours. Well balanced, refreshing and with a long finish. A wine which Leung suggests will work well with mooncakes or pumpkin pie. HK$558
Wines are available from Cottage Vineyards at cottagevineyards.com