Poulsard « L’Enfant Terrible » vieilles vignes sans souffre
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- DOMAINE FRANCOIS ROUSSET-MARTIN, Côtes du Jura – Organic
- DOMAINE MARIE-PIERRE CHEVASSU-FASSNENET, Arbois – Organic
Poulsard « L’Enfant Terrible » vieilles vignes sans souffre
Those whose profession is boxing off wines would also presumably do a double-take when confronted with a twinkling,
pink-tinged Poulsard (otherwise known as Ploussard). I have heard supposedly reputable experts on wine airily declare
that the glory of the Jura is white wine and that the reds are as insignificant as they are insubstantial. This shows not only a
lack of taste but a serious cultural misapprehension. The whites (or rather yellow wines) are the art of the possible and an
improbable triumph. They are wines without compare. The reds, however, capture the spirit of the region in a profound
way. They are lithe, lean, earthy, crunchy, mineral, rasping, occasionally angular, but my, how pure – and what delicious
food wines! From ethereal Poulsards through aromatic, medium-bodied Pinots to rustic, musky Trousseaus we’ve drunk
Jurassic reds that seem to be the very distillation of rocks and fruit. And some of the wines age with amazing grace.
L’Enfant Terrible Vieilles Vignes Sans Soufre to give its full moniker comes from 50 year old Poulsard from yields as low as
10 hl/ha vines conveys skittish aromas of morello cherry, redcurrants, wild strawberry and quince. I have described it in
other pages as rose-hued, slithering hither and thither across the palate with the slicing angularity of a razor blade dipped
in pomegranate juice or cracking whip flavoured with raspberry liquorice.
Check out these stats -360 grams residual sugar, 8.7g/l acidity. An exotic, regal nectar of apricots and peaches and plum
jam in one sip, quinces, gooseberries and pineapples dusted with preserved ginger in the next. And the finish comes as if the
sweetness had been carved to a point and layered with gently toasted Brazil nuts. I don’t give marks out of 100, but this
would surely max out with extreme prejudice.
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A mon dernier repas
Je veux voir mes frères
Et mes chiens et mes chats
Et le bord de la mer
A mon dernier repas
Je veux voir mes voisins
Et puis quelques Chinois
En guise de cousins
Et je veux qu’on y boive
En plus du vin de messe
De ce vin si joli
Qu’on buvait en Arbois…
DOMAINE EMMANUEL HOUILLON, Arbois – Organic
In the quiet village of Pupillin just north of Arbois is a sign beside the road that proudly announces: World Capital of
Ploussard”. It was vigneron Pierre Overnoy who established the unyielding purist precept that wines should be made without
the addition of sulphur. Pierre’s father originally made zero-sulphur wine, but Pierre, who did his internship in Burgundy,
experimented with it, until tasting the difference between his father’s wines and his own convinced him that the zero-sulphur
wine had a finer aroma.
The vines and the cellar are now in the hands of Pierre Overnoy’s protégé, Emmanuel Houillon, who fully espouses the
philosophy of his mentor. Without sulphur the quality of the grapes has to be exceptional; everything in the vineyard is done
totally organically, yields are never more than 35hl/ha and Houillon turns the top six inches of soil, cutting the surface roots
and thus depriving the plants of the topsoil’s potassium which otherwise combines with tartaric acid and lowers their acidity.
In the cellars the selected grapes undergo a semi-carbonic maceration in a covered vessel, with carbon dioxide added at the
start before the fermentation supplies its own. To keep the bacteria from multiplying, the temperature is held to about 8C for
about ten days of maceration. Then the temperature is allowed to rise and fermentation begins. The white grapes are
immediately pressed and their juice is also protected with carbon dioxide. After the initial active phase, some of the white
wines continue to ferment a year or more, virtually all in old oak barrels of various sizes. The Ouillé is Savagnin aged on the
yeast lees in very old barrels and topped up. Bright golden colour, green plums and figs mingled with the salty leesiness,
pickled ginger and toasted walnuts. Phenomenal length.
Houillon is opposed to adding anything to the wine. No new oak barrels influence the taste – some of the barrels in use are a
century old. Before bottling, the wines are neither filtered nor fined and they retain a lot of carbon dioxide, which has an
antioxidant effect and helps to convey aroma. The maceration and fermentation give little colour to the Ploussard, with its
fine skin. Houillon’s pale, exceptionally light and piercingly fresh red is filled with flavours of morello cherry, redcurrants,
wild strawberry and quince, a study in deliciousness, the avatar of purity. Wines such as these have an evanescent quality:
they are unpredictable, variable, even fragile. They can react adversely to certain temperatures, location and atmospheric
pressure. Houillon’s convivial red contradicts the notion that wine should be stable. File defiantly under quirk, strangeness
ARBOIS PUPILILLIN BLANC SAVAGNIN
ARBOIS PUPILLIN ROUGE (PLOUSSARD)
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François took over the family vines in 2007; his grandfather was a vigneron but his father was a doctor in Beaune although
he made a few barrels of wine for family consumption. He himself had a career as a biologist.
He has around 12 ha around Château-Chalon and vinifies around 3-3.5 ha, the rest going to the local co-operative. He
matures his wines in a cool yet humid cellar, ideal for achieving both the finesse and concentration he is looking for in his
wines. Having identified the potential of the different terroirs he chose to specialise in ouillé wines and vinifies the parcels
separately. Having said that François makes a bewildering range of wines – even the same cuvée will be markedly different
depending on when it is bottled. Like so many Jura vignerons he can’t resist pushing the white wines (in particular) in
different directions. The ouillé wines are more fruity and floral and tend to dried fruits redolent of orange and apricot fine
acidity then more vegetal notes of fennel and celery, citron and stone juice. The voile wines are slightly reductive, a touch of
cheese and then the classic aromas of fenugreek, mushroom, menthol and then amazing acidity. Tiny quantity of the vin de
paille which is a blend of Chardonnay, Savagnin and Poulsard. With its copper colour, fantastic finesse, orange, caramel and
chestnut flavours, the wine has captivating depth.
SAVAGNIN CLOS BACCHUS
SAVAGNIN PUIT SAINT PIERRE
SAVAGNIN CUVEE DU PROFESSEUR
SAVAGNIN “CLOS TRUS”
CHARDONNAY “LA CHAUX”
CHARDONNAY LA MEME MARIE
CHARDONNAY “TERRE BLANCHE”
CHATEAU CHALON “CLOS BACCHUS”
CUVEE DU PP ANDRE PINOT POULSARD
VIN DE PAILLE – 37.5 cl
DOMAINE MARIE-PIERRE CHEVASSU-FASSNENET, Arbois – Organic
Château Chalon – because you’re worth it.
Cut yourself some nutty nutty slack and, if you’re suffering sotolon deficiency, pour yourself some liquid fenugreek...’
Marie-Pierre is a young vigneronne whose wines are definitely old style. If you like your Poulsard orange and rustic and your
Chardonnay to have that “jaune” ne sais quoi, from a sojourn under a yeasty veil, you’ll love the uncompromising earthiness
of these Jurassic wines. At just 50 hectares Chateau Chalon is home to the extraordinary Vin Jaune (“Yellow wine”), made
from the Savagnin varietal. The grapes are harvested late and then aged in small oak barrels for a minimum of 6 years and 3
months (although some producers age their Vin Jaune for up to 10 years in barrel). The slightly porous oak barrels are, by
design, not completely airtight, and a considerable portion – nearly 40% - of the wine therefore evaporates over the years (the
so-called “angels share). No topping up is done. A thick layer of flor yeast, known as the voile or veil, looking like a white
foam, develops on the surface of the wine and helps prevent excessive oxidation. This aging method, similar to that used for
fino sherry in Spain, but in France specific to the Jura, allows the wine to acquire its distinct flavours, characteristic of
walnut, almond, spice and apple, before release. This remarkable dry wine, at its best immensely complex and very aromatic,
is best appreciated after at least 10-15 years in bottle and has the ability, in good vintages, to age for a century or more.
This unique wine is bottled in a unique bottle, squat with a deep punt, called a “clavelin”. Each clavelin has a capacity of
62cl (0.62 litres) – based on the fact that for every litre of newly made wine put into barrel, just 62 centilitres is left after
nearly six and a half years of ageing. Vin Jaune is the only wine allowed to be sold in France in a bottle of this capacity. The
wines of Château Chalon are distinguished by an additional escutcheon at the base of the neck. How to describe Marie-
Pierre’s Château Chalon? Green walnut, caraway, fenugreek seed, pickled ginger jostle for attention with a hint of medlar
segueing into peanut brittle and salted caramel. The finish is taut, verging on stony-metallic with gripping lemon-grazed
acidity and an amazing nuttiness that reverberates around the palate for such a long time. Don’t neglect the simply delicious
and deliciously simple (and natural) Pinot and Poulsard respectively.
CHARDONNAY SOUS VOILE
CHATEAU CHALON – 62cl
CHATEAU CHALON – 62cl
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ORANGE WAS THE COLOUR OF HER DRESS
OH YEAH SAVAGNIN TRESOR DINAIRE
STRAIGHT NO CHASER
TROUSSEAU “SO TRUE”
DOMAINE RATAPOIL, RAPHAEL MONNIER, Arbois – Organic
Raphaël Monnier chose wisely when he named his Domaine, “ratapoil” being a local slang word for a hobby winemaker.
In fact, Raphaël is a full-time history teacher in Arbois, and his wife, Estelle, is a lawyer. When we asked him if he had plans
to give up one of his two careers, he replied that he enjoys both equally, and has no wish to choose between the two, though
most likely the day will come when he’ll have to, as he plans to expand his holdings by at least a hectare in the upcoming
years. Ratapoil was established in 2009, and for ten years before that Raphaël worked on a small negociant project with Jean-
Baptiste Menigoz of Domaine Les Bottes Rouges.
The majority of Raph Monnier’s red wines come from the area around Arbois: the excellent Corvées and En Paradis
vineyards. He also has vines in Buffard, north of Arbois in the Doubs département. His vines in the Doubs are over 60 years
old, and planted to a variety of old indigenous grapes, 12 in total. From these vines he makes his self-titled wine called
“Ratapoil,” a highlight in his lineup. All the white wines come from Vadans, between Poligny and Arbois.
He has at least one foot solidly in the natural wine movement. His vineyards are certified organic, and he uses biodynamic
methods as well. His red wines are de-stemmed, made with a shorter maceration time (10 days versus 3 weeks), and ferment
under carbonic gas, giving them the easy, quaffable feel of vins de soif. His Poulsard is bright red in colour and ethereally
light, while his Trousseau and Pinot Noir are weightier but equally breezy and easy going. As mentioned above, Raph’s
Ratapoil bottling is always a treat. At 40% Gamay and 60% ancient varieties, it’s expressive and delicate if a bit more rustic
than Raphaël’s Poulsard and Trousseau. The reds are typically made with little if any added sulfur.
The majority of Ratapoil’s white wines are made topped up, showing a streak of ripe orchard fruit and honey, but also a firm
mineral backbone and quite a bit of complexity. The wines come from old vines on poor marl and limestone soil; they’re
raised in barrel and left to age at least two winters before bottling.
All the wines are made in tiny quantities, change from vintage to vintage and are on allocation,
LE RATAPOIL VIN DE FRANCE BLANC
RATAPOIL CHARDONNAY VA DONC
RATAPOIL PARTOUT ARBOIS PLOUSSARD
LE RATAPOIL VIN DE FRANCE ROUGE
RATAPOIL TROUSSEAU CHIMIERE
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DOMAINE DES BODINES, EMILIE & ALEXIS PORTERET, Arbois – Organic
Emilie and Alexis Porteret are not from Jura winemaking backgrounds, but have embraced both the place and the profession
with great enthusiasm. Having relocated from the Doubs department, this young couple gave up other careers to pursue
winemaking. Domaine des Bodines was established in 2010 after Alexis spent several years working part time for Pascal
Clairet of Domaine de la Tournelle and Bruno Ciofi of Domaine de la Pinte. He credits both of these excellent winemakers
with having taught him the benefits of organic and biodynamic vineyard work, as well as how to work well and naturally in
the cellar. Today the couple share responsibilities at the Domaine and are eager to learn, improve, and continue to grow with
the help of family and friends.
The Porteret’s three hectares of vines in Arbois came to them from a member of the Frutière Vinicole. Although he’d been
applying herbicide to the vineyard, he’d also been ploughing, which meant that Emilie and Alexis could undertake conversion
to organics with less trouble than some. In addition to their three hectares in Arbois, they have a small plot of Savagnin in
Pupillin acquired from their friend Catherine Hannoun of Domaine de La Loue. Alexis would like eventually to convert all his
vineyards to biodynamics.
Emilie and Alexis’s wines are staunchly natural in style with little to no addition of SO2. The wines begin in tank and are
transferred to used foudres and Burgundy barrels. The reds are easy drinking with an emphasis on vibrant fruit, made to be
“glou glou,” fun to drink … not too serious. Chardonnay and Savagnin are ouillé and show great purity and zesty minerality.
The Porterets also produce a small quantity of Crémant Rosé from Poulsard and Trousseau, which is a glorious example of
delicious, natural bubbles.
SAVAGNIN EN MACERATION
DOMAINE LES BOTTES ROUGES, J-B MENIGOZ, Arbois - Organic
Jean-Baptiste hails from the town of Pontalierin the high Jura mountains. His primary passion was cross country ski-ing
before he became a teacher like his friend Raphael Monnier (Ratapoil). Together, for fun and to learn, they played at making
wine. After doing a wine course in Beaune and working for a spell with Stephane Tissot he took on some vineyards naming
them “Les Bottes Rouges” (Red Boots” after a song that he particularly liked. These vineyards, which he leases, area mainly
mature vines in Arbois AOC and he also has 0.3 ha just outside of the appellation in Grozon. The following are wines that
Jean-Baptiste loves to drink and share – simple, fruity and natural.
POULSARD TOT OU TARD
PINOT NOIR LA PEPEE
PINOT NOIR C’EST
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