Savagnin is a grape with a remarkable personality. Walk into any sophisticated wine shop and tell the clerk you are going to test someone’s blind tasting skills, and they will put a bottle of a wine called Vin Jaune, made from the Savagnin grape, in your hand. Vin Jaune (old wine) is a specialty of the Jura and is something of an acquired taste. After a normal fermentation, the wine is left in ancient wooden barrels to age for a minimum of six years. A layer of yeast forms on top of the wine (similar to the flor that develops in the production of Sherry). The flor prevents the wines from becoming oxidized too quickly and gives a nutty flavor to the wine.
“What would I pair this with?” I ask myself absently, somewhat surprised when a fellow wine taster near the table answers: “Comte cheese and walnuts.” And he’s right. The rich, slightly bitter finish of the walnuts and creamy cheese would go quite well with this sherry-like wine.
Now Ploussard, the red wine, is usually paired with Pinot Noir to add color and structure to the blend. Trousseau is more robust and deeply colored than Ploussard and I have heard yet not verified it is sold by the glass at the five-star restaurant Jean-Georges.
Of course, you can find many types of wines from the Jura … including Cremant du Jura, their version of sparkling wine, and dessert wines (called straw wines or Vin de Paille). Wines from the Jura are exotic and, for the most part, affordable. In any event, visiting a wine bar and asking to taste a wine from the Jura represents a delicious and exotic pleasure.