15 Generations at Caves Jean-Bourdy!
Wine producers in Europe often have a long history, and so it is with Caves Jean-Bourdy in the Jura region of France. One of the oldest domaines in the Jura it was founded in the late 1400s and is now run by the 15th generation of winemakers on the estate.
We head to the Jura this month with the French #Winophiles! Payal of Keep the Peas leads us on this journey into the Jura. We will be gathering on Twitter on Saturday, August 21st at 11 am Eastern US (or 8 am Pacific) to discuss the wines of the region and we hope you will join us! Links to all of my colleagues’ writings are at the end of this piece.
Fellow writers may cover the delicious Cremants of the region or other varieties, some you will be familiar with like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as some lesser-known grapes such as Poulsard, Trousseau, and Savagnin. It’s Savagnin that we are going to dive deeper into.
Vin Jaune of the Jura
This region, the Jura, is known for Vin Jaune or Yellow wine. This wine is made from Savagnin (no, not Sauvignon). Savagnin is a super acidic white grape, so they age it in barrels for months to soften the acids (that is through malolactic fermentation, where the tart malic acid, like an unripe apple, is turned into lactic acid…yes, like milk, so you can see how the wine would be creamier).
After that, it goes into old oak with some space at the top. A layer of yeast grows on the top (like the flor in Sherry) and gives the wine its very distinct flavor. To be labeled “Vin Jaune” the wine must stay in barrel for a minimum of 6 years and three months and much of the wine (about 38% would have evaporated) source
But wait, where is the Jura?
This tiny region sits on the eastern edge of France near the border to Switzerland. It’s one of my favorite regions to watch the Tour de France ride through.
Here, let me show you a couple of photos, you will see what I mean.
The region is 50 miles long and never more than 4 miles wide. 4 Geographic AOCs are included in the region, the overarching Cotes du Jura, Arbois in the North of the region where they focus on the grape Poulsard, L’Etoile which is a white wine appellation that is mostly Chardonnay, and Chateau-Chalon which only allows vin jaune.
In addition, there are AOCs for Crémant-du-Jura (for sparkling wine), Marc-du-Jura (for Marc and amber brandy), and Macvin-du Jura (mistelles or liqueur wine made not from wine but the brandy Marc du Jura).
Vineyards here sit between Bourgogne to the West and Switzerland to the East and are some of the oldest vineyards in France. Small but mighty there are only about 2,000 hectares of vines left in the region, making it one of the smallest wine regions in France.
That Jura name? The Jurassic geological period was named for these mountains. It was here that the limestone strata from this period were first identified.
Caves Jean Bourdy
So I mentioned that Caves Jean Bourdy was one of the oldest domaines in the Jura dating from the late 1400s. Brothers Jean-Phillip and Jean-François have 10 hectares of land ½ hectare of that in Chateau Chalon AOC that I mentioned only allows Vin Jaune.
They are old school using old barrels ( up to 80 years old) to ferment and age their wines. They also have a deep wine library with white wines from as far back as 1911. They even have a Chateau Chalon from 1865!
In 2006 they began the process of going biodynamic, being certified in 2010. Their purpose with biodynamics is to protect and preserve their vineyard land for another 15 generations.
The brothers believe that their wines should be aged and as a result, hold them back for 4 to 5 years before release. This is why we currently are seeing the 2012 vintage!
Caves Jean Bourdy is located in the small village Arlay which sits directly west of Château-Chalon. This tiny village has a population of around 1200 people.
What to pair?
As I researched, for vin jaune and savagnins in this region, over and over mushrooms came up. Also Comté the cheese of this region and walnuts are a classic pairing. Beyond that suggestions of golden apples, candied orange peel, hazelnuts, trout, dried fruits, and pungent soft washed-rind cheeses.
We opted for a chicken and mushroom risotto as a main course and a cheese board with golden apple, dried apricots, walnuts, raclette, gruyere, and camembert.
The Côtes du Jura 2012 Savagnin from Domaine Jean-Bourdy
Our wine is not a full vin jaune, but rather what the winemaker at Caves Jean-Bourdy calls a “baby vin jaune”. It is 100% Savagnin that was aged for 4 years in barrel without being topped up.
Vines here average 20 years old and are farmed biodynamically.
These wines can have that Sherry note and our bottle suggested opening the wine 3 to 4 hours before serving and keeping it at room temperature (60-65°F)
I remember the last Côtes du Jura we had, began with some odd odors, so this seemed like a good plan to me. I opened it and left it on the counter for a bit, then stuck it in the fridge door until closer to when we would be serving it since I was cooking in the kitchen and well, it’s Vegas, so it’s always a little warm.
So what was it like? Well, it’s not your normal wine so it can be a little tough to wrap your brain around. It was light gold in color and the aromas hit your nose before you stick your nose in the glass. I got yellow apple a hint of butter, light mushroom, cumin (I grabbed the cumin from the spice rack to confirm this was what I was smelling), and chicken stock. So it has a tart but savory nose.
In my mouth…it’s dry with a bright tartness and an intensity that may have seemed more pronounced because my mouth was trying to figure out the flavors. Again that yellow apple, but in my mouth it was dipping into apple cider. That’s apple cider, not juice, the flavor was not clean and clear like apple juice, it was a bit more husky and intense. The savory notes with a bit of umami come through. It holds in your mouth for a bit, lingering.
The pairing, my notes (and a bit of a biodynamic aside)
As I settled in to make the risotto, I found the methodic stirring and adding stock almost a meditation. It occurred to me that this was similar to preparing a biodynamic preparation, where you stir the solution for an hour or 100 times (I think this depends on which text you read).
I know that the stirring is supposed to add a dynamism to the mixture, but I wonder if one of the benefits is really for the grower, the person stirring, the methodical mixing as the solution spins under the stir stick. The necessity to slow down and stay in one place, stirring and perhaps meditating. Seems like something that the Slow Wine movement would appreciate.
Taking the time to patiently stir my risotto made it taste better to me and left me feeling calm (I should make risotto more often!)
Okay, now the pairing
The mushroom chicken (yes in that order because it had more mushrooms than chicken) risotto tempered the wine. Those oddities that kept us questioning this wine as we tasted it dissolved. The risotto, took that odd-ball kid, through its arm around him and brought him into the fold. Together with the food, the wine was charming. (Find the recipe below)
This baby vin jaune went well with all the cheeses, the camembert, the aged gruyere, and especially the Reading, which is an American version of Raclette the alpine melting cheese, made in Reading Vermont. This cheese was soft and has a funkiness with roasted nut notes. I really liked this. We had the traditional walnuts, dried apricots, and golden apple, and all paired well.
The French #Winophiles
Remember I mentioned my Colleagues with the French Winophiles and their posts? Well, here they are! Don’t forget to join us tomorrow morning on Twitter at 8 am Pacific Time, to discuss these wines!
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm tempts us with “Slow Cooker Mushroom Soup with a Jura Trousseau“
- Cam at Culinary Adventures with Camilla knocks it out of the park as always, this time with “Poulet Rôti + Charles Rouget 2018 Trousseau Côtes du Jura”
- Gwendolyn over on Wine Predator….Gwendolyn Alley takes us “4 Wines and 4 Dishes to Try from The Jura in the French Alps #Winophiles“
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! explains “The Jura Beyond Vin Jaune”
- Jane at Always Ravenous leads us to “Discover Jura Wines Paired with a Cheese Plate“
- Pierre at Traveling Wine Profs encourages us to “Open that Jura now!“
- And lastly, Payal at Keep the Peas has “A Day in the Life of a Jura Wine Lover”
Making risotto is a study in patience. It helps to think of it as time for meditation, stirring, and adding more stock...
This risotto is filled with the umami notes of mushrooms, savory chicken, and a bit of peppery spice from the last-minute addition of arugula.
It pairs beautifully with a Savagnin from the Cotes du Jura!
- 5 ½ cups of chicken stock
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp umami seasoning blend
- Parmesan rinds
- 3 tbs olive oil (divided)
- 4 thinly sliced chicken breast cutlets
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/4 lb Baby Bell mushrooms sliced
- ¼ lb gourmet mushrooms sliced (crimini, shitake & oyster)
- ½ chopped onion
- 1 ½ cups of arborio rice
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 cup fresh arugula
- In a large stockpot get your chicken stock, white pepper, umami seasoning blend, and parmesan rinds, heating.
- Thinly slice the chicken cutlets on the diagonal.
- Cut your mushrooms into bite-size slices
- Finely chop the onion
- Heat a large pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tbs of olive oil, and your chicken.
- Cook through (2 minutes) then set aside
- Add the butter to your pan
- Add the mushrooms and cook until soft (5 minutes), then set aside.
- Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large pot or straight-sided pan over medium heat
- Add the onion and cook 5 minutes, until translucent
- Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes until it is opaque.
- Add the wine and salt and cook until the liquid is absorbed
- Add ½ cup of broth, stir until all the liquid is absorbed, and repeat.
- Continue cooking and adding liquid ½ cup at a time for 25 to 30 minutes (you may not need all the stock, or you may need to add additional water at the end)
- Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, and some of the parmesan. (make sure to heat through)
- Stir in a handful of arugula so that it wilts slightly
- Garnish with arugula and extra parm.
- Get your stock heating on a back burner, so that you have easy access to it when you are adding the stock to your risotto.
- You can use whatever mushrooms you have available, I like the mix because it gives the dish more complexity.
- You don’t need the umami seasoning or the parmesan rinds, but if you have them it will deepen the flavors of the dish.
- Be sure to have everything nearby the stove for the dish and wear comfortable shoes. This is a study in patience, 25 minutes of standing and gently stirring (it makes it taste better, I promise!)
Amount Per Serving Calories 362Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 76mgSodium 852mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 1gSugar 4gProtein 27g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
Sources and Resources
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.