You are on page 1of 10


Jura & Savoie
Wink Lorch
DNA testing on Savoie grape varieties has revealed
some surprises and finally laid to rest the myths
surrounding the origins of certain varieties deemed
unique to Savoie.
Ampelographer Dr José Vouillamoz of the
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, gave
a sneak preview of the results from recent
DNA research when he spoke at the
first general meeting of the new Centre
d’Ampélographie Alpine Pierre Galet (the
Pierre Galet Centre for Alpine Ampelography)
in Cevins on 8 December 2007.
It has been known for a few years that
WINK LORCH Mondeuse Blanche, a rare white Savoie
variety, was one of the parents of the Rhône
Valley’s Syrah grape. Now Vouillamoz, an expert on alpine varieties, has
proved a genetic link with the black Savoie variety Mondeuse Noire
and the northern Rhône’s white variety Viognier. It transpires that both
Mondeuse Noire and Viognier are closely related to Mondeuse Blanche,
as either a parent or an offspring. Exactly which is impossible to prove,
since there is a missing link, likely to be a grape variety that no longer
exists. However, this revelation means that both Viognier and Mondeuse
are relatives of Syrah, one as a half-sibling and the other as a grandparent.

WINK LORCH is a wine writer and educator with a passion for the mountains.
In 2007, she launched – a website with online guides
for independent wine travellers, initially covering France. She is a past chairman
of the Association of Wine Educators and has contributed to several books,
including Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, Time-Life’s The Wine Guide,
and Le Cordon Bleu’s Wine Essentials. Wink particularly enjoys enthusing about
wines from vineyards in sight of snowcapped mountains, whether the Andes, the
Alps, or the Jura. She divides her time between London and the French Alps.

DNA testing was also carried out on various white grape varieties,
including Jacquère and Altesse (used to make Roussette de Savoie),
both planted throughout Savoie. Jacquère has been confirmed as an
offspring of a formerly very common grape variety, Gouais Blanc (known
to ampelographers as the “Casanova of grape varieties”). Altesse is
described in Savoie history books as having come from Cyprus and, more
recently, was thought by Galet and others to be related to Hungary’s
Furmint. Vouillamoz rejects this hypothesis and suggests a relationship
with Chasselas, both grapes being of western European origin. Testing
was also carried out on Gringet, which grows only in the tiny cru of
Ayze, near Bonneville in Haute Savoie. Until now, Gringet was believed
to be a member of the Traminer family and related to Jura’s Savagnin
variety. DNA testing has proved that this is not the case; in fact, the
variety is unique to Savoie and is probably related to Molette, which
is grown mainly in Seyssel.
The famous ampelographer Professor Pierre Galet (now 86) also
attended the meeting in Savoie and was unperturbed that modern DNA
techniques refute some of the older thinking on these varieties. He has
donated his vast collection of research documents to the new centre,
which bears his name and has the aim of preserving ancient alpine
varieties. Both Galet and Vouillamoz confirmed the genetic importance
of Savoie grape varieties. Wine producer Michel Grisard, one of the
figures behind the creation of the centre and co-owner of Domaine de
l’Ardoisières in Cevins, hopes that funding will be forthcoming to create
an experimental conservatory of alpine grape varieties.

Vin jaune to have taste profile
As part of AOC reforms, the Société du Viticulture du Jura, which is
charged with liaising with the INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et
de la Qualité), has initiated a study in conjunction with the Institut
des Vin du Jura to establish an official taste profile for vin jaune. This is
mainly in preparation for stricter controls being introduced on a national
basis from July 2008 for the agrément (testing) carried out as part of
Appellation Contrôlée rules. One of the study’s key challenges is to
differentiate between the taste profile of a white Jura Savagnin wine
that has been aged oxidatively and that of a “real” vin jaune. Once the
profiling has been completed during 2008, the institute plans to train
professional tasters to use the profile to judge whether a vin jaune may
be allowed to carry the label.

The crise begins to bite
As indicated in Wine Report 2008, all is not well in some sectors of Jura
and Savoie due to the national downturn in wine buying, especially
in the restaurant sector, so important to these two tourist-driven regions.
The victims are relatively small vignerons, who fall primarily into two
categories: first, those who make and market their own wine but whose
quality falls well short of the mark, mainly due to lack of technological
equipment and know-how (a particular problem in Savoie); second, those
who sell their grapes primarily to négociants. This concerns the Jura in
particular, where the dominant Henri Maire company announced dramatic
cuts in wine purchases two months before the start of the 2007 harvest.
The company used to purchase from 130 growers, but in 2007 they
bought from only 30. Some of the remaining growers managed to find
buyers, but many left their grapes unpicked.

Bugey has no choice
For several years, Vins de Bugey has tried without success to gain AOC
status. With the VDQS category being abolished by 2010, promotion should
finally become a reality. VDQS wine areas may choose to apply for AOC
status or for the more flexible vin de pays category. The Syndicat des Vins de
Bugey has been working on the required changes needed for elevation to
AOC for some years; since over 60 per cent of its production is sparkling
wine, AOC is the only sensible choice. Volumes of the sparkling pink Cerdon
VDQS, made by the méthode ancestrale, and white and rosé Vin de Bugey
Mousseux VDQS, made by the méthode traditionnelle, have increased by
more than 50 per cent in the past decade, and demoting them to vin de
table would be a severe blow to the region. Bugey is more than ready
to adopt the AOC regime and hopes that it will receive approval in time
for the 2009 vintage.

• The Maison du Vin de Savoie in • A heritage centre (Centre
Apremont finally opened in February d’Interpretation du Patrimoine)
2008 after several years of planning. opened in Château-Chalon in April
The official wine organizations have 2008. Combining displays about the
moved their offices and laboratories geology and history of this classic
into the new building, which is in the hilltop village with comprehensive
heart of the wine area; however, there background information on the wines,
are administrative delays concerning this will make a highly educational
the creation of a consumer visitor visit for tourists. The cellar area will
information centre and shop: this will also be used for wine tastings
not open before summer 2009. presented by the growers.

Jura: seize this opportunity!
In every appellation of France, committees have been meeting, commitments
made, and papers written in time for the July 2008 deadline for AOC reform.
The priority is to put in place all manner of checks – from the pruning of the
vines, to the bottling of the wine – to be conducted by exterior independent
inspection committees. This system will replace the existing compulsory
agrément (taste test), although certain taste tests will still take place.
In the Jura, they are well advanced with plans to comply with the
reform, knowing that – for the sake of the growers, who face substantial
cost increases to pay for this – they must create an efficient and
effective system. This is all well and good, and I applaud it. However, by
focusing so much energy on compliance with the new regulations, the
region is missing an important opportunity to market its wines better.
Compliance with the AOC labelling system means labels that are woefully
uninformative. The region’s producers should introduce compulsory back
labels that explain to the consumer what is in the bottle. This tiny region
offers a bewildering choice of wine styles, and often the same label is
used for a fresh, fruity style of Côtes du Jura Chardonnay as for a rich,
barrel-fermented one or an oxidative, nutty style that tastes nothing like
its grape variety. If Jura wants to combat falling local consumption by
seeking sales outside the region and indeed outside the country, it must
address this issue at the earliest possible opportunity.

Savoie producers must embrace wine tourism
In Savoie, too, there is an opportunity to combat falling sales. Encouraged
by the Rhône-Alpes administrative region, a committee has been set up
to examine the possibilities of promoting wine tourism in Savoie. This is
so obvious that one wonders why it needs a committee, but Savoyards
are notoriously slow to embrace change and opportunity. And they are
loners too – vignerons want to plough their own metaphorical vineyard
furrows. There are some plans being made now, but they are going to
concentrate on visitors from the local region; the millions of foreigners
they could welcome are not even being considered.
The Savoie vineyards are in one of the most beautiful regions in the
world, with a benign climate, spectacular mountains, beautiful lakes, and
historic cities (Annecy, Chambéry, Aix-Les Bains). The region welcomes
millions of tourists every year – the majority come for ski holidays, but a

significant number visit in summer as well. The wine industry is woefully
late in getting on the tourist bandwagon. Even if wine routes are mapped
out, there is little information about which vignerons are open for visits,
and there has been no encouragement for hotels and restaurants to work
with wine producers to encourage visits. Even if few direct purchases
would be made, it would open doors for the Savoyard wine producers to
sell more wine outside the region. They must consider this issue urgently.

Caution needed with “natural” wines
Jura has a higher proportion of organic vineyards than other French wine
regions, which is great news. However, owners of organic vineyards in
particular, but also of some conventionally farmed vineyards, seem under
pressure from a fashion in France and, to an extent, North America for
so-called “natural” wines. The main requirement of “natural” wines is
that they should have no added SO2. This is a dangerous move. Although
I have been surprised by the good quality of a few no-sulphur wines I
have tasted, there are many that disappoint. Keep levels as low as
possible by all means, but eliminating SO2 presents great risks. It would
be a shame to see a region where quality is increasing risk its reputation
with substandard wines made to feed a fashion.

• Domaine Opus Vinum, a tiny by the official Savoie body, the
Arbois producer established in 2005, producers joined forces to present
has been forced to change its name their wines in the Aux Zingots
by California winery Opus One restaurant. All 11 of the main
(owned by the giant Constellation organic/biodynamic producers of
group and Domaines Rothschild). Savoie were present, and they had
Owners Alice Bouvot and Charles invited “similar-thinking” colleagues
Dagand, who originally chose Opus representing all the different
Vinum for its musical reference, had geographical sectors to join them.
not envisaged any possible conflict More than half the producers are
of interest between a small Jura those listed in Wine Report. The
domaine and a Napa Valley giant. tasting gave a rare opportunity for
It transpires that the name Opus the trade to taste the wines from
has been registered by Opus One. top producers side by side.
In March 2008, the new name of
Les Vins d’Alice was chosen after • The release of the 2001 vintage of
a competition among friends vin jaune in 2008 will be somewhat
and customers. muted. No Château-Chalon 2001
was allowed to be produced due to
• La Savoie Viticole Authentique poor grape quality. Several producers
was the name of a trade tasting of vin jaune have also decided to skip
staged by 20 renegade producers in a year, hoping their stocks of the
Paris in November 2007. Concerned 2000 vintage will last until the 2002
by the lack of opportunities provided can be released in 2009.

Vintage Report
Advance report on the latest harvest
Jura – A strange year, when growers suffered hail attacks, excess heat, and
heavy rainfall that led to outbreaks of mildew, which were often impossible
to treat, since there were no gaps in the rainfall to allow spraying. The very
warm April gave an even earlier flowering than 2003, but it was followed
by rain for most of the summer. Catastrophe was avoided when the fine
weather finally broke through at the end of August. By September, three
weeks of north winds and sunshine dried out any grey rot and turned it
into noble rot, giving good sugar concentration. The most successful wines
are likely to be from those growers who dared to wait the longest to
harvest. Late-ripening varieties did best, notably Savagnin and Trousseau.
Savoie – Towards the end of August, growers feared the worst vintage for
some time. An unusually hot spring gave flowering five to six weeks earlier
than an average year, but this was followed by a really wet summer, with
severe outbreaks of mildew that were almost impossible to control. The fine
weather in September with a dry north wind turned this into what most
growers are describing as a “miracle vintage”. It took place on average
around a week earlier than normal, but with crops reduced by around
30 per cent due to mildew and hail damage. Many growers are describing
quality as exceptional, due to a complete absence of rot, and it looks like
being particularly successful for the late-ripening Mondeuse.

Updates on the previous five vintages
Ratings for vin jaune and vin de paille are included in the scores for white wines.
Vintage rating: Jura – Red: 79,White: 83;
Savoie – Red: 78,White: 81
Jura – A record-breaking, extremely hot July was followed by a very wet,
cool August. A warm, sunny September saved what could have been a
disastrous vintage. Rot was a problem for some, and the harvest was small
overall. Decent reds were made by those producers who acted quickly and
were selective, though some are quite light and should be drunk before
the 2005s. Whites are generally of better quality, with good fruit though
relatively soft acidity, and are also for drinking early.

Savoie – After a very hot July and a very cold, wet August, it was never
going to be easy. September was a big improvement, but rainstorms hit
in late September and early October. Rot of various types was the biggest
problem, and for black grapes there was a level of underripeness, too.
The producers who really took care in the vineyard and made a rigorous
selection at harvest were the winners, though it is a relatively lightweight
year for both whites and reds.

Vintage rating: Jura – Red: 90,White: 92;
Savoie – Red: 88,White: 85
Jura – A classic year throughout the region. There were high sugar levels,
but acidity was maintained, and this, combined with good concentration
and modest yields, produced successful wines from all varieties. The best
wines show excellent balance of flavours and structure. Many wines have
been released, but the wines can be kept for future drinking.
Savoie – Overall a good growing season, and it was a year when there
should be no excuse for bad wines. Most whites made from Bergeron
(Roussanne) and Altesse did not need any chaptalization, and the best
show attractive flavours, balance, and length. Mondeuse reds are the real
stars: lovely fruit flavours and ripe tannins resulting from better vineyard
methods in combination with the weather.

Vintage rating: Jura – Red: 80,White: 82;
Savoie – Red: 76,White: 78
Jura – After a wet summer, September was dry and warm. Crop levels
were high, and selection was essential. Much Crémant du Jura was made
from Chardonnay. Savagnins were picked at good sugar and acidity levels,
crucial for vin jaune. Trousseau was the most successful black variety.
Savoie – Excess quantity was the biggest problem in this year of variable
weather, but the grapes were generally healthy. Growers who were
selective produced reasonably concentrated Roussette de Savoie whites
from Altesse, and the finest producers of Mondeuse did well.

Vintage rating: Jura – Red: 86,White: 76;
Savoie – Red: 83,White: 81
Jura – A very early and small harvest. Dealing with low acidity was a big
challenge, especially for wines destined for vin jaune. Some interesting

Savagnin wines have been released, but most Chardonnays are a little too soft
for keeping. Reds, for once, are actually red in colour and taste of ripe fruit!
Savoie – Low quantities in this unusually hot, dry year mean that few
wines are still available. However, the best producers made deliciously fruity
whites and some structured reds.

Vintage rating: Jura – Red: 86,White: 90;
Savoie – Red: 79,White: 77
Jura – Overall, good quality with fine potential for vin jaune. Chardonnays
and some Trousseau reds are excellent still, with good weight and balance.
Savoie – Wines are mainly sold and drunk. Mondeuse can still be good.

Jura Jura
1 Domaine André & Mireille Tissot 1 Julien Labet
2 Jacques Puffeney 2 Les Vins d’Alice
3 Domaine Labet Père & Fils 3 Rémi Treuvey
4 Domaine Ganevat 4 Julien Maréchal
5 Jean Rijckaert 5 Domaine Cybelline
Savoie Savoie
1 Domaine Dupasquier 1 Gilles Berlioz
2 André & Michel Quenard 2 Domaine de l’Ardoisières
3 Denis & Didier Berthollier 3 Frédéric & David Giachino
4 Domaine Louis Magnin 4 Bruno Lupin
5 Pascal & Annick Quenard 5 EARL La Gerbelle

Jura Jura
1 Domaine Pignier 1 Daniel Dugois
2 Domaine Ligier Père & Fils 2 Frédéric Lornet
3 Château d’Arlay 3 Domaine Baud Père & Fils
4 Domaine Berthet-Bondet 4 Domaine Jacques Tissot
5 Domaine de la Tournelle 5 Domaine Rolet Père & Fils
Savoie Savoie
1 La Cave du Prieuré 1 Domaine de l’Idylle
2 Domaine Belluard 2 Domaine St-Germain
3 Jean-Pierre & Philippe Grisard 3 Edmond Jacquin & Fils
4 Jean-Pierre & Jean-François 4 Le Cellier du Palais
Quenard 5 Domaine Jean Vullien & Fils
5 Domaine Delalex

WINES 1 Vin de Savoie Pinot Noir Cuvée
Jeanine 2006 Domaine Jean
Vullien & Fils (€5.70)
1 Château-Chalon 1999
2 Roussette de Savoie 2006
Jean Macle (€28)
Domaine St-Germain (€7)
2 Arbois Vin Jaune 1999
3 Vin de Savoie Mondeuse 2006
Jacques Puffeney (€29)
Pascal & Annick Quenard (€7)
3 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay Les
4 Vin de Savoie Chignin Vieilles
Grandes Teppes Vieilles Vignes
Vignes 2006 Denis & Didier
2005 Domaine Ganevat (€14.50)
Berthollier (€4.90)
4 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay Fleur
5 Vin de Savoie Jongieux
de Marne La Bardette 2005
Mondeuse 2006 La Cave du
Domaine Labet Père & Fils (€12)
Prieuré (€5.80)
5 Arbois Chardonnay La
Mailloche 2005 Domaine André &
Mireille Tissot (€15) MOST EXCITING OR
1 Vin de Table Son Altesse le Jura
Refus NV Domaine Prieuré 1 Côtes du Jura Grains Nobles de
St-Christophe (€15) Savagnin 2002 Domaine Labet
2 Roussette de Savoie Marestel Père & Fils (€20) This is the first
2005 Domaine Dupasquier (€7.50) vintage the Labets have made a
3 Vin de Savoie Chignin wine from a selection of nobly
Bergeron Cuvée Noé 2006 rotted grapes – and it’s a great
Pascal & Annick Quenard (€11) success. It was aged for three
4 Vin de Savoie Chignin years in old demi-muids (600-litre
Bergeron Les Terrasses 2005 barrels). A touch of residual sugar
André & Michel Quenard (€8) is balanced by high alcohol and
5 Roussette de Savoie Baron acidity, yet it remains supremely
Decouz 2006 Denis & Didier elegant, with honey, lemon, and
Berthollier (€6.25) spicy flavours.
2 Arbois L’Opportun Trousseau
BEST BARGAINS Liquoreux 2006 Domaine André &
Mireille Tissot (€42 per half-bottle)
Jura Stéphane Tissot has turned out
Note that wines 3 and 4 are both yet another experimental sweet
Savagnin Ouillé – that is, non-oxidative marvel. From a berry selection of
fresh, dry whites. black Trousseau grapes that were
1 Arbois Poulsard 2005 Jacques
either raisined or affected by noble
Puffeney (€6) rot, it was pressed and vinified as
2 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay
a white wine. It has a wonderful
à la Percenette 2006 honey and black-grape-juice
Domaine Pignier (€12) nose, and is sweet but not cloying,
3 Arbois Cuvée des Poètes 2005
with a delicate Mirabelle plum
Domaine Ligier Père & Fils (€10) character. With only 10.5 per cent
4 Arbois Naturé 2005
alcohol, it is nevertheless weighty
Frédéric Lornet (€9.50) in body and flavour.
5 Côtes du Jura Trousseau 2006
Domaine Baud Père & Fils (€8.50)

3 Arbois Savagnin Vendange 2 Vin de Savoie Vendanges
de Novembre 2005 Domaine d’Exception 2005 Domaine
Jacques Tissot (€17.50 per half- de l’Idylle (€12 per 50-cl bottle)
bottle) Each year, this large Jura Just 700 half-litre bottles were
domaine saves a few rows of made of this exceptional Jacquère.
its 50-year-old Savagnin vines It was made as a vin de paille,
to harvest when overripe in and the grapes were dried for two
November. The result is this months, pressed in December, and
delicately sweet white wine, full the wine then matured in an old
of spicy, heady flavours. The 600-litre barrel. Medium-sweet,
naturally high acidity of Savagnin with a delicate honeyed lemon
makes a good foil for the character and good freshness, with
sweetness. Delicious! some spiced peach character.
4 Côtes du Jura Rouge 2003 3 Vin de Savoie Primitif NV
Château d’Arlay (€12) Made Frédéric & David Giachino (€5.50)
almost entirely from Pinot Noir With organic vineyards covering
and aged for more than three both Apremont and Abymes crus
years in old oak barrels. The known for their light, fresh whites,
unusually hot 2003 vintage the Giachino brothers decided to
conveyed extra-ripe, sweet berry- make this cuvée without any
fruit flavours to this burgundian- chaptalization and minimal
style Pinot. It has the potential handling. The delightful result has
to age for several years. just 9.2 per cent alcohol and
5 Crémant du Jura Brut Sauvage packs in more flavour than many
NV Domaine Baud Père & Fils (€9) Apremonts with 2 degrees more.
Alain Baud does not believe his 4 Vin de Savoie Mondeuse
Pinot Noir makes a good red Blanche 2006 Jean-Pierre &
wine on its own, and as well as Philippe Grisard (€9.50) The 2006
using it for a blended red, he vintage really showed what this
has put it to excellent use in this unusual variety can do when
sparkling wine, where, blended handled correctly. It is supremely
with Chardonnay, it forms 30 per herbal in flavour, both on nose
cent of the base wine. and palate, reminiscent of a Rhône
Savoie or Provence dry white, but with
1 Vin de Savoie Apremont Vieilles much higher acidity.
Vignes 2006 Domaine Jean 5 Vin de Savoie Marin Clos du
Masson & Fils (white label) (€6.80) Pont 2006 Domaine Delalex (€6)
This unusual producer makes at From a spectacular vineyard bowl
least six Apremont cuvées. This is with a view of Lac Léman, this
one of two Vieilles Vignes versions Chasselas is made without
– a traditionnelle and this one, malolactic fermentation (unlike
which is in a burgundy-shaped other Chasselas from Haute Savoie
bottle. It’s made from 100-year-old or Switzerland). The result is a
vines – officially Jacquère, but one food-friendly, dry, and ageworthy
wonders… This is the most wine that is excellent value.
unusual Apremont I’ve ever tasted,
with a richness and structure to
age for a decade or more.