A few months back Wayward Wine reviewed Biodynamic wines by Bourdy from France’s smallest, most extreme region: Jura, France (click here for that post).
From 2010 to 1967, the wines ranged wildly from taught and acidic to spiced and honeyed. Time to delve past Bourdy’s varied but entry level Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blends. Time to visit their Savagnin grape-based higher tier.
Bourdy’s ’09 of Savagnin alone looks, smells, and tastes lemony tart and bright, with lime meringue, white pear, light honey, salinity, and floral tones. But their goal is something greater: Chateau Chalon.
Only about one year in six, a blind judging manages to find a barrel worthy of calling Chateau Chalon. Here is Jean Francois impersonating his father’s selection process:
The 2006 shines a light gold, with pronounced aromas and flavors of verbena, lemongrass, violet candy, almond, and honey. The acidity is eye-widening, young and jagged, saline, mineral and lean. Very good 4 of 5 (although it costs $107, three times their entry Savagnin).
But then some barrels carry a wild yeast that sometimes, under the right conditions, produces a fat cap of yeast. Rarely that cap holds, allowing the wine below to safely, gradually oxidize. That cap is called the flor. Jean-Francois helps us with pronunciation:
A five person senate declares vin Jaune. In 1993 they only declared 3 parcels. We try 1996:
The color looks a clear, bright, light gold. Aromas hardly smell of grapes but instead slightly feral, like bacon, with ethanol, sherry barrel, fruity Speyside whisky and vanilla powder. It feels dry, acidic, fairly tannic, with warm alcohol and round body. Flavors dive a different direction, tasting like crust baguette, lemon peel, cinnabar, smoke, minor mineral, that flow into a soft, creamy finish. Very, very good (4 of 5, for a mere $171.99).
But how about something older than me? 1976’s Chateau Chalon washes the glass with gold. Aromas pounce with orange marmalade, tomato leaf, Peking tea, wax, and almond, all of which match the palate. Acids and tannins provide stiff structure balanced by a very ripe, lush body. ’76 like 2003 was warm, dry and made for a far more open, rich white (very good 4 of 5…but rarity makes it $413.50).
We rev up the time machine and visit 1959’s Vin Jaune de Garde. Aromas smell loudly but delicately of verbena, wood, chamomile, orange peel, and crystallized honey. 59 is lean, powerfully structured, and bright. It finishes long and lovely with flavors of creme fresh. It is outstanding stuff (5 of 5), extremely clear and expressive and cheapened by words (although certainly not cheap $613.99).
Bourdy suggests food to tame all this acid and complexity: eggs cooked 1 minute with wine, mixed mushrooms, Comte cheese and nuts. Our already watering palates feel desperate for food. But focus Aaron!
14 wines in, Bourdy is nowhere near finished. Time for two brandy from Jura:
Leftover grape skins get pressed in small vats, then distilled into 16.5% alcohol following a 1579 recipe developed by drunken nuns.
Bourdy’s Macvin Blanc looks medium gold. Strong aromas smell of violet candy. It is sweet, acidic, alcoholic, hot, warm and bright. Flavors taste of aniseed, licorice, pear, and pleasant bitter green, leafy eucalyptus. It is very good (4 of 5) and $27.99.
The Galant Premier Grand Cru sees 3 years of barrel time. It smells fantastically of apple pie, mulled wine, mace, candied pear, and nuts: like walking past chestnut roasters at wintertime. Flavors wander towards aniseed, jerky, salt, and honey. Very good ($66.99). Bourdy suggests blue cheese, glazed pork.
Completely lost and my palate obliterated by acidity, alcohol, and intensity, I call a cab home and gorge on cheese to absorb all that cold climate brilliance.
Bourdy’s small 10 hectare plot produces fantastic, wholly unique wine. Jean Francois is affable and confused by American cuisine (sugar in bread? Madness). This tasting was of their middling vintages, and I can only imagine greater things far beyond my meager appreciation.