A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Crémant de Jura Rosé - Jura, France

After attending a great tasting of wines from the Jura at The Wine Bottega in the North End of Boston last week, I decided  to finally turn my attention to a tasting note for a Crémant de Jura that's been sitting in my notebook for awhile.  I keep looking at this note and putting it off in favor of another topic and just have had a difficult time working up the motivation to write about it.  It's not that it is isn't an interesting wine.  In fact, it has pretty much all three Fringe Wine components working for it: unusual grapes (Trousseau and Poulsard), unusual region and unusual style (most Crémant de Jura is made from Chardonnay in a Blanc de Blancs style).  No, my hesitation stemmed from something a little more personal: I'm a terrible sparkling wine taster.

More specifically, I guess, I'm a terrible taster of sparkling wines made using the traditional Champagne method.  The secondary flavor characteristics from lees aging coupled with the bubbles form a tag team that I have difficulty penetrating.  Charmat method wines don't give me as much trouble but it's still tough for me to taste past the bubbles.  Don't get me wrong, I love sparkling wines and enjoy them every opportunity I get, but the nuances are mostly lost on me (unlike my fellow Boston-area blogger Dale Cruse whose blog is essential reading for bubbly fans).  The only remedy, I've decided, is to keep plugging away and work my way through it (the ultimate torture, I know: drink more sparkling wine).

So, anyway, about that Crémant de Jura.  The Jura is a small region in France, east of Burgundy, on the border with Switzerland.  It's a little farther north than Savoie and is less geologically rugged as the Jura mountains are more sylvan and resemble rolling hills more than capital-M Mountains.  There are five different grape varieties used in the Jura: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Poulsard (sometimes called Ploussard) and Savagnin.  The red wines from here are usually very light in both color and body and Pinot Noir is actually used to darken the wines made from Poulsard and Trousseau.  The white wines are usually a little heftier, are served after the reds in a tasting, and are often intentionally oxidized to some extent (to greatest effect in the region's vin jaune offerings).  Production is not particularly voluminous here and when you couple that with the off-beat style of many of the offerings, it translates into limited exposure in the US market.  Word is spreading about these wines, though, and though they're still not omnipresent, they are showing up in more shops and are well worth the search.

The bottle I was able to find was from Domaine Rolet Pere et Fils.  It's a non-vintage bottling that I got for around $19 from my friends at Bin Ends.   The grapes featured in this rosé sparkler were Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir and Fringe Wine regulars may note that I didn't write about the grapes in the body of the post.  I skipped it this time not out of negligence but because I have single varietal bottlings of Poulsard and Trousseau that I picked up at the Jura tasting that will be written up soon.  Suffice to say for now that Poulsard is a very thin-skinned red grape that gives very little color, and Trousseau is also known as Bastardo in Portugal where it is a permitted grape in the Port blend but is not considered one of the five noble port grapes.  In the glass this had a pale salmon color and a nice, steady bead.  The nose was fruity with some strawberry and toast but not much else.  The wine was dry with high acidity, a creamy mousse, some nice strawberry fruit, and some toasty notes.  This was a relatively straightforward rosé sparkler that hit just a few notes, but hit them pretty well.  I had this with an Alfredo sauced pasta dish and found that it served very admirably as an accompaniment.  This particular bottling from the Jura probably won't change your life or anything, but it is a nice, accessible introduction to a very unique and interesting region in France.

I also would like to point out that I have written the section on the Jura for AG Wine's iPhone app.  The piece is currently in the final editing stages and should be up on the app soon.  If you buy the app now, you will receive all future updates with new regions for free.  You can check out AG Wine's website here or you can go here to download the app for your iPhone or iPad.  It's definitely one of the most informative and useful wine apps that I've used and I enthusiastically recommend it for people interested in learning more about wine and less about wine scores.  I've also written the section on Alsace and the upcoming section for Savoie as well.  Their free Wine News app also syndicates my posts so you can follow Fringe Wine and many other great writers on the go for free.  In the interest of full disclosure, I do not receive any financial compensation from AG Wine for any of the content or promotion that I provide to them.

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