Named after its terroir of white marl or “white earth,” this beautifully detailed Jurassic Chardonnay is made in the ouillé or topped-up style (as is the La Chaux above), meaning the barrels are topped off with wine as the wine evaporates, rather than left underneath a thin veil of yeast (sous voile) that causes the wine to gently oxidize over time. This latter technique is more typical historically in the Jura. Why the ouillé technique has not been employed more frequently has always mystified me, given the unbelievable geological complexity underlying the vineyards of the Jura that can be beautifully translated by the vine and is often masked with sous voile. As intriguingly delicious as the sous voile wines can be (we offer one magnificent example here), these ouillé wines offer more approachability (in taste and price) and a wider variety of possibilities at table. Terres Blanches is produced from forty- to fifty-year-old vines in the village of Lavigny. Aromatically very fresh, the bottling hints of beeswax on the palate, and the finish is dominated by a strong, stony goût deterroir. With it, I’ll take the rabbit terrine.
François Rousset-Martin's raison d'être is to better know and understand the incredible terroirs in which he is invested. His new project near the amazing town of Baume-les Messieurs holds great potential once the vines are of age. His current work is most focused on making previously inconceivable wines within the Château Chalon appellation, labeled as Côtes du Jura since he makes them in a non-oxidative (ouillé or topped-up) style. Vinified by climat with little to no sulfur and bottled unfined and unfiltered, the Rousset wines are complex and persistent, falling somewhere along the spectrum of floral and delicate, exotic and savory.
The Jura wine world is a fascinating, mysterious, and at times confusing one. The region’s recent surge in popularity on American wine lists lies in contrast with how strange its wines come across to the uninitiated, with many of its indigenous production methods and quirky winemakers requiring more than an introduction for one to fully savor their virtues. We firmly believe, however, that the pleasure at stake is well worth a slight detour to study the wild world of Jura.
Jura tradition calls for aging whites sous voile, or under a fine “veil” of yeast that grows over wine in barrel that has not been topped-off (non ouillé) to compensate for evaporation. The voile effectively slows the process of oxidation, while chemical reactions between these microorganisms and the wine below give rise to a highly distinctive and complex set of aromas. Often hinting at walnuts, beeswax, oriental spices, cheese rind, and brine, wines aged sous voile can come as a shock to the unhabituated palate. Their textural and aromatic singularity naturally sets them in a category of their own at table, perhaps the best setting in which to gain an appreciation for such wines.
Many Jura producers also produce more conventional whites in an ouillé, or topped-off style, as is practiced in Burgundy–or for that matter, in essentially all the white wines we are accustomed to. This method preserves fresh fruit flavors without the rather rustic, often funky oxidative notes typical of wines aged sous voile.
A good doctor prescribed the wine of Nuits-Saint-Georges to the Sun King, Louis XIV, when he suffered an unknown maladie. When the king’s health was restored the tasty remedy enjoyed a vogue at court. Lord, send me a doctor like that!
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