Chardonnay off the Beaten Path

Today’s Story: Jean Bourdy

Jean Bourdy is a historic family-owned estate dating to 1475 in the Jura region of France. Today under guidance of the family’s 15th generation and brothers Jean-Phillipe and Jean-François Bourdy, the family domaine consists of ten hectares (25 acres) planted to Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Poulsard, Chardonnay, and Savagnin. Winemaking here is incredibly traditional, beginning in the vineyards where the Bourdy brothers practice biodynamic viticulture using only cow manure as fertilizer and whey or flower teas for disease control. All wines ferment naturally with indigenous yeasts in old oak vats, then they age in old oak barrels and foudres that are at times 80 years old themselves. Wines are only topped up once and sulfur additions either never occur or only in very, very small doses, so the wines oxidize slowly in the very cold and damp cellars while adding complexity. The wines age out for several years before release, however the Bourdy brothers hold back some wine each vintage and today command an incredible library with wines going back to the 19th century.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Côtes du Jura Blanc

100% Chardonnay; 12.5% ABV

The 2016 Côtes du Jura Blanc is medium to deep gold in color and transparent. Per the suggestion on the back label, I opened this four hours before serving but did not decant it. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of yellow apple, golden pear, grilled pineapple, honey, sweet tart dust, chalk, freshly baked bread, almond, and charred oak. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium (+) intensity and the palate displays notes of baked yellow apple, peach, dried apricot, dried green herbs, white mushroom, wet stone, almond, toast, and sea salt. This dry white is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $30. For me, I think this is a great value though it will be a very different and “interesting” Chardonnay for what many will likely expect or be used to. The intensity, complexity, and balance are already great and this has the structure to go the distance. If you are unfamiliar with the wines of Jura and want to try something new, give this one a try.

Traditional and Terroir-Driven Jura Built for the Cellar

Today’s Story: Les Matheny

Les Matheny is a small and relatively new winery, established in 2007 by the husband and wife team of Elise and Emeric Foléat in their hometown of Matheny in the Jura region of France. Emeric spent eight years working with legendary winemaker Jacques Puffeney before he and Elise started their own venture, which today consists of 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres) in the appellations of Arbois, Montigny-les-Arsures, and Poligny. Winemaking here is rather traditional and takes place in a no-frills converted farmhouse, with the resulting wines much more intense and terroir-driven compared to many of the lighter and more “popular” styles of the region. All wines ferment spontaneously in fiberglass tanks, there is no chaptalization or acidification, and malolactic fermentation occurs naturally in barrel. Whites age 4-9 years in neutral oak barrels, while reds age 18-30 months in neutral foudres and demi muids. All wines are then bottled unfined but with light filtration.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Trousseau Cuvée l’Alpierri

100% Trousseau; 13.5% ABV

The 2018 Trousseau Cuvée l’Alpierri is pale ruby in color. I didn’t decant this but simply let it open up in the glass for about 45 minutes to an hour. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of ripe red cherry, strawberry, orange rind, violet, cured meat, black pepper, dried green herbs, and nutmeg. Meanwhile the flavors are more subdued and of medium intensity, while the palate displays notes of redcurrant, raspberry, wild strawberry, cherry, charred herbs, black pepper, and crushed rock. This dry red is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $48. I think this is very reasonably priced and just needs some time in the cellar to really show at its best. The nose steals the show at this stage, but overall the wine is rather complex, has solid intensity, and great length. Patience will be rewarded handsomely here given the acidity and tannin levels.