Jura Wines with Attitude
French winemaking doesn’t get much more extreme than this.
The Jura, on the French fringes of the Swiss Alps, is hard country. Winters are cold, spring comes late and while summer days are long, the nights are chilly. Fall is vintage time, a scramble to get the grapes ripe and harvested before rains arrive.
This tiny wine region is 4,400 acres, similar in size to Yountville in Napa Valley. The Jura lies up against the mountains that separate the watersheds of the Rhine, Rhône and Po rivers.
Historically isolated, the Jura has evolved several distinct wine styles that are now being discovered by the rest of the world.
Leading the charge have been fashion-conscious sommeliers, who seem to thrive on springing surprises on unsuspecting diners.
Yet, on the fine-dining circuit, three years is an eon for a wine list. And that’s about how long these wines have been showing up in New York, London and San Francisco.
That means these same sommeliers are about to jump off the Jura ski lift.
Luckily, if you live outside Manhattan, now’s the time to have a tête-à-tête with your local sommeliers and retailers. These wines are becoming more widely available in the U.S., and more consumers can discover them.
“We are a little region with a huge range of wines,” says vigneron Pierre Rolet. “We appeal to drinkers who are happy to experiment.”
To help those hearty home explorers, here’s a quick guide to the major Jura wine styles and grape varieties.