The Jura wine growing area in Franche-Comté stretches over 80 kms (50 miles). Located between Switzerland and Burgundy, the wine region is called the ‘Revermont’ in France.The vineyards produce wonderful wines, with the vin jaune and the vin de paille being the best known. Here is a guide to the wine growing areas to explore.
A Few Facts about Jura Wine
- Surface area of 2,000 hectares
- Many different terroirs (encompassing soil, air, climate and production methods)
- 5 grape varieties
- 6 AOCs (Denomination of Controlled Origin)
- 200 vineyards
The Wine Growing Area
The area stretches from the north Arbois area, near Salins-les-Bains south west to Saint-Amour.
Explore the Jura Wines
- The best way to cover the area is by car. Pick up a map at any of the tourist offices in the area or click on the Jura Tourism site and plan your own route.
- Walk along the designated routes, such as the Vineyard Trail in Pupillin from the village center that takes you to local vineyards.
- Hire a bicycle and go the slow route through the vineyards.
- More suggestions, and routes are downloadable to your computer or smartphone from the wine section of the Jura Tourism Site though only the main part of the site in in English. But it does have special offers of packages including accommodation, dinner and breakfast, wine tastings and cookery demonstrations.
Suggestions of Vineyards and Wine-Related Attractions to Visit
- In Arbois:
- In Lons-le-Saunier:
Taste wines at the Domaine Pignier, Montaigu
Grape Varieties in the Jura
There are five Jura grape varieties.
- Red wine:
Pinot noir which appeared in the 15th century courtesy of Count Jean de Chalon.
It is the most dependable vine.
Trousseau. It is believed to have originated in France-Comté in the 18th century. It needs more sun than other varieties and matures late.
- Jura rosé:
Poulsard (also called Ploussard) is the typical Jura variety was developed in the 15th century.
- White wine:
Chardonnay. Also grown in Burgundy, Chardonnay has been grown in Jura since the 10th century. It is the most common grape type.
Savagnin. A typical Jura variety, it is used to produce the famous vin jaune (golden wine). It is a close relation to Traminer in Alsace and it has a romantic history. It is said to have been sent to the abbesses of Château-Chalon by Hungarian nuns.
Jura’s Special Wines
- Vin Jaune. This is regarded as the jewel in the crown and is one of the world’s great wines. It started in the Château-Chalon area but is now made also under the Arbois, L’Étoile and Côtes du Jura denominations. It is made in a different way from most wines. It’s produced only from the Savagnin grape variety, is fermented then has to be stored for a minimum of six years and three months in oak barrels. It is not topped up or racked and during the ageing process a layer of yeast forms at the surface, stopping any oxidiation. It is bottled in special ‘Clavelins’, which only takes 62cl instead of the usual 75cl of a wine bottle.
- Vin de Paille. ‘Straw wine’ is only produced from the best grapes which are picked then left to dehydrate in a dry room for several months either on a bed of straw on wicker racks or by hanging the bunches from rafters. The idea is that this will concentrate the juice naturally. It produces a sweet wine that is 14 to 17% alcohol by volume. Vin de paille is aged for three years in barrels before bottling.
Six Jura AOC Wines
- AOC Arbois. The capital of Jura wines and the first to be given an AOC in Jura in 1936.
- AOC Château-Chalon. On an imposing cliff that juts out over the countryside, Château-Chalon is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (Most Beautiful Villages in France). It only produces ‘vin jaune’.
- AOC Côtes du Jura. This AOC is the most widespread through many different terroirs and runs from Salins-les-Bains in the north to Saint-Amour in the south.
- AOC L’Etoile. This village, to the east of Lons-le-Saunier is so called (l’Etoile means star) for two reasons. The village is surrounded by five hills that form the points of a star. But it’s also due to the presence of pentacrinus, little sea stars that became fossilized and are buried beneath the rows of vines.
- AOC Macvin du Jura. This is a concentrate made up from typical jura grape varieties and Marc (eau de vie or spirits). It is a liqueur wine and the only one produced from grape brandy rather than wine. It was mentioned in the 14th century and comes from unfermented grape juice, the must to which is added a third-part of Marc. It is then aged in oak casks for at least 2 months. It has to reach between 16 and 22% of alcohol by volume to get the AOC.
- AOC Crémant du Jura. The bubbly alternative to Champagne is delicious on every occasion.
The Official Jura Wine Organisation
Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins du Jura
Château Pecauld - BP 41
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 84 66 26 14
More on Jura
- Salins-les-Bains Great Saltworks
- The Delightful Undiscovered Town of Dole
- How to Get to Dole from Paris or London