A review of Jura Wine
Uncovering the secrets of the wines of the Jura region in eastern France
Posted by Mark Armstrong 15th July 2014
Author: Wink Lorch
We purchased this beautiful book through the author's project on the Kickstarter crowd-funding website and we're so glad we did. A more comprehensive book on Jura Wine, you will not find. And as Wink notes in her introduction, she didn't expect to write such a detailed book; after all, the Jura only produces 0.2% of France's wines.
But, although it may be France's smallest wine region, it is also so completely different from any other wine region. The Jura wine region is less than half of the whole of the Chablis area, yet in the Jura almost every colour and style of wine is made and "this is what makes the region's wines so endlessly fascinating."
In the book Wink looks at the region's appellations and explains such peculiarities as: why in some years,the producers of Chateau Chalon are not allowed a vintage under the AOC, such as in 1984 and 2001; and why Vin Jaune must be bottled in a clavelin bottle of 62cl and cannot be sold before 1st Jan seven years after the harvest.
There are sections dedicated to The Terroir (the geology, soil types and climate) and the Grape Varieties grown in the region. It's in the Grape Varieties section we learn all about the 'founder varieties' and what modern DNA testing has shown in relation to their origins. We also find out the most likely origins of the names of these varieties.
In the section on Growing the Grapes, we discover that the Jura has one of the highest proportion of vineyards run along certified organic lines in northern France, together with Alsace. Wink goes into detail on the various other methods of production, including biodynamics. In the How The Wines Are Made we learn for example all about the different types of yeast, the barrells and the unique and unusual bottles used.
The History of the wine region is a fascinating story of survival of the fittest, with a multitude of issues impacting the Jura Wine, from World Wars to black rot. There's also a separate section dedicated to the 'People Who Made a Difference'; the key characters who have "helped this tiny, diverse and intriguing wine region survive adversity, thrive while remaining authentic, and be noticed." This includes the scientist Louis Pasteur.
Half of the book is given over to the Wine Producers and in this section we get to share in Wink's love of the people and places of this region. This section has all the contact details of the vineyards you'll need, but more importantly has wonderful profiles of the wine makers. We discover the characters behind the wines as well as the character of the wines themselves. With Wink's effortless writing style it is enjoyable to read about these characters and families and we also have her honest opinions on their wines, which range from a 'could do better' to 'never sets off fireworks' to 'good value' through to 'delicious' and 'extraordinarily alive and vibrant.'
The section on the Future for Jura Wine Producers is the 'most opinionated part of the book.' For although "with its indigenous grape varieties, unusual styles of wine and small welcoming, family-run producers, the Jura appears to have it all - especially if one adds in the beautiful scenery, famous cheeses and some top restaurants," it has some big issues which Wink goes into.
Following sections on the regions other drinks and food specialitities and about serving the Jura wines, there's a small section with some recommended places to stay and eat. "Most Jura wines are better drunk with food and if you have the chance to travel to the region, you will find nothing but regional food in the restaurants."
This book is not just for wine experts but for anyone wanting to know more about this beautiful unspoilt region of France and it also contains some wonderful photography to illustrate the people, the places and the wine.
As Raymond Blanc says in his foreword to the book, "the Jura .. is such a remarkable and stunning part of France. Those who visit tend to return."
Jura Wine by Wink Lorch can be purchased online at Wine Travel Media
Wink also has a blog on Jura Wine