White Wine, Lombardy, Jura

For many budding wine enthusiasts, the wines of one of France's smallest wine region are largely unknown, while others associate it only with the distinctive sherry-like vin jaune. However, the Jura is much more than that. Comprised of four defined appellations; Côtes du Jura, Arbois, L'Etoile and Château-Chalon, the wines of the Jura are often famous for their eccentric varietals such as their famed Savagnin grape.

The Jura region can be found in eastern France, between Burgundy and Switzerland. Between Burgundy and the Jura is La Bresse, flat land lying on either side of the river Saône. The vines here start when the ground begins to rise to the east and towards a large limestone plateau. The continental climate is one with long cold winters and hot summers but with more rain than their Bourgogne neighbours.

Although the two regions are only about an hour's drive away from one another, the feel is different. The Jura seems much greener, lusher even, which is often attributed to their increased rainfall; but also explains the extraordinary array of cheeses from the Jura. The land under vine occupies a very small area among the foothills of the Jura, amounting to about 2,000 ha, though prior to the phylloxera outbreak, it used to amount to ten times the size.

As one of the smallest wine regions in France, the soil, not surprisingly, is limestone but with overlays of clays of varying hues which account for both the number of grape varieties used and for the complex nature of so many of the wines. Vines are also trained quite high to avoid spring frosts, however, the growers in the region need plenty of patience and nerves of steel as the harvest can easily extend into November.
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