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A Day in the Jura

Sunday, Sept 22, 2013

The famous Ploussard
Ploussard from Overnoy-Crinquand

Neal spent the day visiting our producers in the Jura.  Here are his notes:

“I spent last Sunday (September 22) visiting each of our four producers. The first issue to discuss is “reduction” in certain wines from our producers in the Jura. Of course, we had this problem raise its ugly head when we shipped the first lot of Ploussard from Crinquand.

Two of our growers, namely Crinquand and Gahier, studiously avoid the use of sulfur to the maximum degree possible.  Of course, this is exactly the methodology that all of our clients with a fanatical attachment to “natural” wines request (and sometimes even require).  Sadly, one of the results of the avoidance of sulfur is the occasional hint of reduction in the nose of certain wines.  There are two ways to deal with this phenomenon: request our growers to apply higher doses of sulfur when bottling their wines or to be patient giving the wines the time to absorb the reductive elements that are present at time of bottling.

Specifically, Michel Gahier made the point that our current shipment of his wines probably left the cellar too soon after bottling.  He is working on expanding his cellar so that he can hold his wines for several months, at least, after the bottling.  He is firm in his stance that several months from now the infamous cuvée of Les Crets that just arrived will show none of the annoying aromas of reduction.  As a result, we will hold in our inventory the remaining cases of this wine at least until January 2014 at which point we will re-taste the wine and place it on the market, assuming that Gahier’s position proves true.  I have little doubt that that will be the case. Gahier will have no more wine for us until next year when the next vintages are bottled!

Further, I tasted the Ploussard 2011 with Mikael Crinquand at his place and found not a hint of reduction in the nose at this time.  This wine will ship with our next shipment of Crinquand wines in February or March of 2014.  I had an outstanding tasting with Crinquand.  The Ploussard 2011 is a classic version of this wine with its orange tint to the robe and lively, but subtle, grip to the tannins.  The 2012 shows more concentration (again with no reductive notes), considerably more material in all aspects.

The Road to Montigny
The Road to Montigny

His Trousseau from the 2012 is further proof that this is an excellent vintage in the Jura, certainly within the scope of our quartet of producers.  That being said, the Trousseau of Crinquand, being from Pupillin rather than Montigny-les-Arsures, does not have the stature of the Trousseaux from the latter commune, recognized as the finest terroir for this local cepage. Also, quantities are 50% less in 2012 than in a normal year because of the miserable spring weather that compromised the flowering.

The Chardonnay from Crinquand comes from three different parcels and there are frequently three separate bottlings: one from the “La Rouge” vineyard (the first shipment of 2011 Chardonnay for us came from this site); the second bottling was done two months ago and is sourced from “La Bidode”; there is a third bottling to come from wine still in foudre and also from La Bidode (this is the parcel that was the source of the old vines cuvee that we purchased in the 2009 vintage).  This third cuvee will be the wine we ship in March 2014 and is splendidly rich, dense and earthy.  There is more Savagnin 2010 available to us from the most recent bottling.  We will then add to our next shipment both sorts of Cremant du Jura (Blanc and Rosé).

Neal and Jacques Puffeney in Cellar
Neal and Jacques Puffeney in Cellar

Jacques Puffeney continues to craft exquisite wines and shows not the slightest interest in stepping back or, horrors!, retiring.  Here, also there was a very small harvest in 2012 and 2013 also proved to be shy in both Savagnin and Poulsard at this domaine.  Top to bottom the 2012s in reds and whites are splendid.  For the first time, Puffeney did a co-fermentation of his Sacha (Chardonnay and Savagnin harvested and fermented together) – this from 65 year old vines!  There may be a late harvest Savagnin from 2005 released at some point.  The Jaune 2006 is sensational – two distinct bottlings: the current one is more open, facile; the later one will prove more earthy and opulent.

The wines of Domaine Montbourgeau
The wines of Domaine de Montbourgeau

At Montbourgeau, the 2011 L’Etoile will prove to be more delicate and less rich than the 2010.  We will continue to work the 2010 during the first part of 2014.  The same will be true for the 2009 and 2010 Cuvee Speciale – more ’09 will ship in the early part of the year and then the 2010 will arrive after its 36 to 42 month elevage.  Again, we will double dip on the ’09 Savagnin before moving into the 2010 later in the year.  The first shipment of the year will bring the Poulsard 2012 and the first Crémant shipment as well.  Note:  the Macvin is a limited production item so there is little hope that we can expand our purchases to satisfy the growing demand.  The ’06 Jaune will continue to be available during the first half of 2014.  This is an impeccably managed estate that is producing some of the finest values in white wine in our portfolio – and profoundly traditional in all aspects of the operation.”