Jura in-depth and wines not to miss

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Tucked between Burgundy and the Swiss border, this small area in eastern France is a missing piece of the puzzle for many wine lovers. James Lawther MW explores Jura’s bucolic charms and its characterful wines...

An hour’s drive east of Beaune across the unbroken Bresse plain lie the vineyards of the Jura. Distant cousins with hillside vineyards, Burgundy and Jura have points in common: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and clay-limestone soils to name the essentials, but here the resemblance ceases.

If Burgundy is mainstream, Jura is offbeat, with grape varieties such as Savagnin and Trousseau, and wine styles such as vin jaune offering an original journey. Even Chardonnay, both traditional and the newer ‘ouillé’ versions, is a different cup of tea.

Jura at a glance

Area under vine: 1,950ha

Production: 11 million bottles

Wineries: 230

Soils: Different types of marl (blue, grey, red, black) on limestone strata dating from the Jurassic era (150 million years ago)

Vineyard altitude: 200m-400m

Climate: Continental

Average rainfall: 1,200mm

Average sunshine hours: 1,800

Main grapes: White Chardonnay 43%, Savagnin 23%

Red: Poulsard 14%, Trousseau 11%, Pinot Noir 7%, others 2%

Appellations: Arbois, Château-Chalon, L’Etoile, Côtes du Jura, Crémant du Jura, Macvin du Jura, Marc du Jura

Wine styles: Dry white, red, rosé, sparkling, vin jaune, vin de paille

Prior to phylloxera, the Jura was a significant wine district, with some 20,000ha under vine. Today, the figure has been reduced to about 2,000ha located in pockets over a distance of 80km, the north more preponderant than the south. The terrain is that of the Revermont: the foothills under the first plateau of the Jura mountains.

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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