So, just as last time, we had mostly natural stuff and - as one could expect - the styles were pretty much all over the place, ranging from wonderfully complex, fresh and tasty to downright horrid.
It was also interesting to taste a wine by Renaud Bruyère and Adeline Houillon, since - to my understanding - they have been making some impact on the wine geek circles, but for some reason I've been completely oblivious to this and had never even heard of them. As the wine was amidst all the other bottles, I tasted it like any other wine (well, as one should, really!) and only later learned of the producer's somewhat cult-ish status. I have to say, I wasn't particularly impressed - apart from the one corked bottle, I found all the other white wines much more captivating.
NB: We also had a bottle of wine from L'Octavin, but it was introduced later, thus it's not included in the picture.
- 2016 Domaine Philippe Chatillon Savagnin Arbois - France, Jura, Arbois (7.10.2020)
Vinified without any added sulfites, chaptalization or any other manipulation of wine. 12% alcohol.
Pale straw-yellow color. Very fresh and tangy - even somewhat sharp - nose with intense aromas of saline sea breeze, some leesy notes, a little bit of oaky creaminess, light lemony tones, a hint of fresh white fruits and a mineral touch of wet stones. The wine is very sharp, precise and saline on the palate with tangy flavors that replicate the nose pretty verbatim: saline oceanic tones, crisp Granny Smith apple, some leesy notes, a little bit of pomelo, light notes of straw, a hint of creamy oak and a mineral touch of chalky bitterness. The bracing lemony acidity lends tremendous intensity to the wine, making it feel very almost electric. The high-strung finish is very crisp and lively with flavors of crunchy green apples, tangy salinity, some grapefruit, a little bit of stony minerality and a hint of chalk dust. There seems to be a slightest hint of something unclean and nutty, perhaps mousiness, that rears its head after the wine has opened in the glass for a while, suggesting that this is a natural wine (checking out the back label - yes, I was correct: no SO2).
A very racy, crisp and electric Savagnin that is all about tart lemony tones, tangy salinity and lean minerality. Wonderful intensity and precision. Due to the possibility of the wine turning mousy with air, I heartily suggest drinking the wine quite quickly and not leaving half a bottle overnight in the fridge. However, in the cellar the wine will most likely evolve wonderfully over many more years. Nice stuff.
- 2016 Domaine des Marnes Blanches Savagnin Côtes du Jura En Jensillard - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (7.10.2020)
An ouillé Savagnin Muscaté from a vineyard approximately 60 years old. Savagnin Muscaté is supposedly a local strain of Savagnin that is an aromatic mutation of Savagnin - i.e. it is the same thing as Gewürztraminer, but without the pink/gray skins. Fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts. Aged for 11 months in old, neutral oak barrels. Vinified with minimal sulfites. 13% alcohol.
Quite pale straw yellow color. Huge, perfumed nose that immediately brings Gewürztraminer to mind with the fragrant aromas of lychee and rose-scented Nivea hand cream, some vibrant notes of peach, a little bit of ripe pear, light steely mineral tones and a hint of apple juice - not really a nose typical of Savagnin! The wine is dry, moderately full-bodied and quite oily yet at the same time surprisingly firm on the palate. Complex flavors of savory spices, perfumed notes of rosewater, some nectarine, a little bit of juicy pear, light stony mineral tones, an exotic hint of mango and a touch of tangy salinity. The balanced, moderately high acidity keeps the wine very nicely in balance, although the acidity overall feels a bit lower than is typical for a Savagnin. The floral finish is complex and lengthy with fresh, perfumed flavors of rose petals, tangy salinity, some tart green apple tones, a little bit of exotic spice, light tropical notes of mango and a juicy hint of blood orange.
A very lovely, firm and complex "Gewürztraminer" - indeed, more than Savagnin, this wine feels like a cool-climate Gewürztraminer with very perfumed, floral and tropical overall character, yet exhibiting Savagnin's typical qualities like lighter body, higher acidity and lower alcohol. All in all, a very lovely, vibrant and thoroughly enjoyable effort. It's hard to asses whether this kind of perfumed, complex wine will age gracefully from here or not, but at the moment the wine is drinking just wonderfully. Just be warned - despite its name it should be treated more like a light and mineral Gewürztraminer than like a lean and tangy Savagnin! Highly recommended.
- 2017 Domaine de Saint Pierre Arbois Les Trois Terroirs - France, Jura, Arbois (8.10.2020)
Very neutral whitish-yellow color. Odd, fishy nose of sea breeze, some notes of damp cardboard and a hint of fresh apple. Slightly prickly CO2 on the palate with a full body, surprisingly modest acidity and dull flavors that exhibit only some minerality and a little bit of cardboard that only grows in intensity.
- 2014 Domaine Pignier Chardonnay Côtes du Jura à la Percenette - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (7.10.2020)
A single-vineyard Jura Chardonnay. Fermented and aged for 12 months in oak pièces. 12,5% alcohol.
Rather pale straw-yellow color. Pretty nuanced and attractive nose showing quite mineral aromas of wet stones and chalk dust, some saline notes of sea air, light sweet notes of ripe stone fruits and cantaloupe, a little bit of leesy creaminess, a hint of exotic spice and a sappy touch of herbal greenness. The wine is medium-bodied, crisp and enjoyably acid-driven on the palate with tangy and quite intense flavors of lemony citrus fruits and tart green apples, some pink grapefruit, a little bit of saline minerality, light sappy notes of herbal spice, a hint of creamy oak and a subtly lactic touch of pineapple-flavored yogurt. While the fruit feels quite ripe and suggestive of sweetness, the overall feel is very lean and precise with almost Riesling-like taut firmness. The racy acidity keeps the wine wonderfully focused and structured. The long finish is ripe yet almost bone-dry and very acid-driven with precise flavors of white peach, some ripe Golden Delicious apple, light cantaloupe tones, a little bit of tangy salinity, a tart hint of lemony citrus fruit and a touch of apple peel bitterness.
A wonderfully fresh, precise and pure Chardonnay combining ripe, vibrant fruit with very lean, austere and acid-driven structure. The wine has definitely seen some oak, but the obvious oaky tones are confined to the background while the mineral and crisp fruit tones take care of the lead. The wine is going in the right direction, but there is still a lot to go before the wine reaches its peak. Very lovely stuff with lots of upside to it. A quintessential Jura Chardonnay. Highly recommended.
- 2016 Renaud Bruyère & Adeline Houillon Arbois Les Tourillons - France, Jura, Arbois (7.10.2020)
A single-vineyard wine from the 50-yo Les Tourillons vineyard. The wine is a blend of co-fermented Chardonnay (80%) and Savagnin (20%). Fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts. Aged for 12 months in topped-up oak barrels. No added SO2. 12,5% alcohol.
Medium-deep pineapple yellow color. Quite rich, somewhat wild and slightly waxy nose with aromas of chopped nuts, some bruised apple, light funky notes of wax and leather, light bready tones, a bretty hint of Band-Aid and a touch of decomposing wood. Shows more brett than fruit. The wine is dry, medium-bodied and quite structured on the palate with a rather wild and slightly unclean overall feel. There are savory flavors of bretty farmhouse funk and phenolic spice, some Band-Aid, a little bit of spicy red apple, light apple peel bitterness, a hint of earthy spice and a touch of white peach. The high acidity keeps the wine quite precise and structured, but due to the funky tones the wine is lacking a bit in freshness. The finish is long, earthy and quite funky with flavors of old leather, some phenolic spice, a little bit of farmhouse funk, light apple peel bitterness, a hint of ripe white fruit and a touch of Band-Aid.
A complex and funky white, but one that isn't that enjoyable due to the rather dominant brett. Due to the brett overwhelming the fruit the wine isn't as enjoyably funky as some natural wines can be, but comes across more as dirty and not particularly pleasant. This is more about savory and earthy tones, phenolic spice and Band-Aid than ripe fruit and well-proportionate funk that adds complexity without dominating the wine. All in all, I really didn't get the wine nor what all the fuss is about - there are tons of more interesting naturalistas in Jura producing more balanced wines at more reasonable price points. If I understood correctly, this wine retails around 80-100€, which makes this quite a rip-off, since I thought it was a generic 15-20€ natural wine and learned only of the wine's price later on. Not impressed.
- 2015 Jean-François Ganevat Côtes du Jura Les Chamois du Paradis - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (7.10.2020)
Les Chamois du Paradis is a small 60-yo parcel within the lieu-dit Grandes Teppes planted to Chardonnay. Aged for 2 years in old, neutral oak demi-muids that are topped off regularly. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal SO2. 14% alcohol.
Rather concentrated and still relatively youthful lemon-yellow color. Ripe, sweet-toned and somewhat restrained nose with attractively harmonious aromas of nectarine, some wet stone minerality and steeliness, a little bit of ripe white peach, light nuances of apple sauce, a hint of leesy creaminess and a fruity touch of cantaloupe. The wine is full-bodied, quite intense and even somewhat powerful yet not particularly bold or heavy. There are ripe and quite concentrated yet slightly restrained flavors of steely minerality, ripe white peach, some exotic spice, a little bit of leesy creaminess, sweeter hints of blood orange and honeydew melon and a touch of tangy salinity. The moderately high alcohol lends the wine breadth and texture without coming across particularly noticeable. The high acidity lends great sense of balance and precision to the wine. The ripe and noticeably persistent finish is quite intense with vibrant flavors of juicy white fruits, some tangy saline notes, a little bit of leesy creaminess, light fruity notes of orange and cantaloupe, a hint of savory spices and a touch of fried mushrooms.
A beautiful, complex and soulful Jura Chardonnay with a rather tactile feel and remarkable depth of flavor. Although the wine shows breadth, richness and even sense of concentration, it also exhibits quite a bit of restrained, coming across slightly understated for its size - yet not underwhelming by any means. This is a wonderful and thoroughly impressive effort for a Jura Chardonnay, combining remarkable ripeness with very attractive sense of finesse. The overall feel is still very youthful and the wine is brimming with future potential. Although the wine is quite approachable now - especially if given enough air to open up the aromatics - it will give so much more if left to age for long enough. Pretty outstanding stuff.
- 2018 Domaine Labet Métis - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura (7.10.2020)
A blend of Pinot Noir (45%), Gamay (23%), Enfariné (16%) and a co-fermented lot of vieux cépages (16%). Harvested on August 30th, 2018, bottled without sulfites on July 17th, 2019. 13% alcohol, pH 3,4.
Youthful and moderately translucent crimson color. Open, fragrant and rather wild - yet not particularly natty - nose with attractive, fruit-driven aromas of brambly black raspberries, some peppery Pinosity, a little bit of dried herbs, light lifted notes of violets and Seville orange, a hint of wild strawberry and a bretty touch of leathery funk. The wine is quite light-bodied, crunchy and moderately wild on the palate with ripe flavors of crunchy cranberries, brambly raspberries, some peppery spice, a little bit of bretty leather, light lifted notes of sweet, zesty VA, a hint of astringent lingonberry and a touch of gravelly minerality. The bright acidity feels very high, whereas the gentle tannins are rather spars with quite mellow grip on the gums. The relatively long finish is dry, light and crunchy with moderately intense flavors of fresh raspberries and lingonberries, some earthiness, a little bit of cranberry, light sappy notes of raspberry leaf, a hint of bretty funk and a subtly unclean touch of nuttiness which might evolve into mousiness, if the wine were let to aerate for too long. However, at the moment the wine feels pretty clean and without any noticeable flaws.
A fresh, charming and wonderfully crunchy Jura red with a modest wild edge to its aromatics. Made in a wonderfully light, delicate and refreshing style - definitely a wine for the acid-heads who don't mind a bit of sauvage character. Despite its light funky notes, the wine never comes across as too anonymously "natty" in style. Probably the wine can keep and even develop for some years, but this kind of fresh, fruit-forward glou-glou really doesn't scream for any cellaring and since the wine is drinking so well right now, I really don't see much idea in keeping it for much longer. Nice stuff.
- 2017 Domaine des Cavarodes (Etienne Thiébaud) Arbois Trousseau de Messagelin - France, Jura, Arbois (7.10.2020)
A single-vineyard Trousseau from the biodynamically farmed Messagelin vineyard. Fermented spontaneously semi-carbonically in fiberglass vats. Aged for 10 months in neutral oak. Bottled without any fining, filtration or sulfites. 13,5% alcohol.
Translucent pomegranate red color. Brooding, sweetish nose with dark-toned aromas of plummy fruit, liqueur-ish volatile lift, some ripe blackberry tones, a little bit of meaty character, light floral notes of roses, a rustic hint of funk and a candied touch of blackcurrant marmalade. The wine is ripe, textural and medium-to-moderately full-bodied on the palate with a slightest touch of CO2 spritz that dissipates quickly. The wine is slightly sweet-toned and perhaps subtly unclean on the palate with flavors of ripe blackberries and succulent red plums, some liqueur-ish notes of sweet VA, light marmaladey notes of blackcurrant, a little bit of savory, peppery spice, a hint of something earthy and a touch of dirty funk. The wine comes across as rather soft with its medium-to-moderately high acidity and no perceptible tannins. The finish is dry, somewhat short and slightly unclean with flavors of fresh blackberries, some candied blackcurrant tones, a little bit of crunchy chokeberry bitterness and a hint of something bready that is starting to suggest mousiness. After the wine has sat in the glass for a while, the breadiness evolves into full-blown dirty nuttiness and rancid sesame seed notes typical of mousiness.
A somewhat pleasant but not particularly interesting Trousseau that feels like a generic, anonymous natural wine. As a whole, the wine is surprisingly rich and ripe for a Jura red, and although it isn't noticeably big, its structure just doesn't offer enough counter-balance for the ripe voluptuous fruit, making the wine feel rather soft, dull and sweet-toned. And I must say that the mousiness really doesn't help. The wine is still drinkable upon opening, but it gets worse rather fast after the cork is popped. Compared to the vibrant 2018 vintage, this bottle was rather disappointing. But then again: IIRC, 2017 was of the lousiest vintages in Jura for a long time, so I guess that was to be expected.
- 2017 Domaine de L'Octavin Raph'Noel - France, Vin de France (7.10.2020)
A Vin de France Gamay without vintage designation, only lot number "Lgamay17". The grapes from Raphaël Beysang, a biodynamic producer in Beaujolais. Macerated for 45 days with the skins. No added SO2. 13% alcohol.
Translucent, medium-deep strawberry jam red color. Heavily volatile nose with a strong punch of medicinal ether, followed by aromas of nail polish remover, some balsamico and a little bit of dirty funk. There's really not much fruit here. The overall feel is quite chemical, almost cloyingly sweet and rather off-putting. The wine is dry, medium-bodied and acid-driven on the palate and the taste is dominated by very volatile flavors of ethyl acetate and acetic acid. Disagreeable flavors of medicinal ether, nail polish, some sweet balsamic tones, a little bit of sweet black cherry and a hint of fresh red plums. The overall feel is quite structured with the high acidity and somewhat grippy medium-plus tannins. The finish is dry, dull and quite long with flavors of crunchy cranberries, some nail polish, a little bit of unclean mousiness that grows in intensity towards the end of the aftertaste and a touch of crunchy red fruit. There's quite a bit of acetic roughness in the throat.
Ugh. An undrinkably volatile natural wine. The nose and the midpalate are dominated by ethyl acetate and the aftertaste by mousiness. This is one of the most repugnant wines I've ever tasted. Even though I'm fairly tolerant of relatively wild natural wines, I wonder if there exist a single natural wine enthusiast who could consider this wine enjoyable? This is a disaster.