I came across a bit of a study tip I’d like to share. If you’re studying for your WSET Diploma 3 exam and are anything like me, you’ve got sheets and sheets of notes, flashcards, maps, tasting notes (not to mention bottles and bottles of wine). But I was recently given this advice—on the cover of your notebook/folder/binder/whatever for each specific region or country, write down the Top 10 facts you think are the most important to remember for that region or country. Don’t worry about writing excessive detail (that’s what the inside of the notebooks is for), these are just bullet points of key ideas/themes/vocabulary words/etc. Then, each morning or evening, or whenever you like to pretend your studying is just a bit of light reading, review those Top 10 facts. Remind yourself why you chose them. Obviously, with some regions or countries it will be easier than others. (I’m still trying to whittle down my Top 10 Spain facts…)
How this helps: in a pinch, during the exam, if you come across a region or country you’re feeling uncomfortable with, recall those top 10 facts. Odds are, there will be something in them that will get the juices flowing and help you recall the specific details needed to answer the actual question.
I thought I’d give it a go and have been implementing this into my note-taking. Today I’m sharing my Top Jura 10.
Following, I have an analysis of a Vin Jaune, compte cheese, and a fun YouTube share to help you get just as excited about the Jura as I am. Cheers.
- Environmental Factors: continental climate; high rainfall during growing season; soils a mixture of clay, marl, limestone; most vineyards on west-facing slope of Jura Mountains; erosion, frost, and fungal disease as main threats
- Vineyard Management: inter-row grasses help limit herbicide usage on the vines themselves; also helps protect from erosion
- Jura Grapes: Savagnin, Poulsard, Pinot Noir, Trousseau
- Vin Jaune: oxidative style; Savagnin fermented dry, aged in barrel with head space, flor forms, no racking/topping or 60 months, alcohol rises due to transpiration, must be bottled in 62 clavelin bottle
- Oxidative Style Wine: Producers of Vin Jaune can draw off some barrels earlier to create an oxidative style, which can be blended with some Chardonnay
- Vin de Paille: sweet wine made from grapes dried on the vine; all varieties allowed except Pinot Noir, aged in oak at least 18 months; released no sooner than 3 years
- Conventional Wines: both red and white conventional wines produced; main aim is to preserve primary fruit
- Jura Regions: Cote de Jura AOC (all styles), Arbois AOC (red dominant), Chateau-Chalon AOC (Vin Jaune only), L’Etoile AOC (white only—all styles)
- Viticultural practices: 20% vineyards are certified organic
- Vintage Variation: yields ranging between 45,000 and 105,000 hL within the last five years, ending 2016/17
What would you put on your Jura Top 10?
Wine: Domaine Rolet 2010 Arbois Vin Jaune ($40 wine.com)
Appearance: medium gold
Nose: pronounced: baked apple, baked pear, honey, agave nectar, caramel (reminiscent of salted caramel popcorn as well as caramelized white chocolate), almond or walnut, vanilla, cedar, ginger, nutmeg
Palate: dry, high acid, high alcohol, medium body, pronounced flavors: baked apple, baked pear, honey, agave nectar, caramel, walnut and walnut skin, vanilla, cedar, ginger, nutmeg, baked/cooked lemon, popcorn (which I’ve learned translates to the yeasty aromas/flavors, but for some reason my brain reads ‘popcorn’), finish is long
Assessment of quality: (6 marks) This is an outstanding wine. The oxidative style of the wine is made apparent from the moment you pour the glass—the baked fruits (apple, pear, lemon), the nutty quality (almond, walnut, walnut skins), as well as the caramel and honey tones all speak to the complex winemaking style that is this wine. Further, the popcorn/bready notes indicate the use of an oxidative method as in the Vin Jaune of France’s Jura region. These intense flavors are lifted and balanced by the piercing acidity that stays in the center of the tongue from start to lingering finish. I even get just a touch of oak in the aroma notes, with a hint of some kind of cedar—certainly not an indication of new wood, but a testament to how much time this wine spent in contact with the wood; it’s a subtle nuance adding intrigue to the tasting. While I called the alcohol high, I don’t find it un-balanced, instead just adding the right amount of warmth and a touch of glycerin affect to the overall mouthfeel. As mentioned, the finish is long, lingering with a beautiful combination of primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas and flavors. Because I could not fault this wine, I could not rate it any lower than outstanding.
Suitability for bottle ageing: (3 marks) I do believe that this wine is suitable for bottle aging. Certainly the acidity and alcohol level is high enough for the wine to structurally last. Additionally, the nature of the primary fruits and their intensity are such that they can continue to hold on and develop over time into their further cooked and/or dried fruit form. I think the complexity developed due to the oxygen impact will continue to evolve further over time as well, with more oxidative aromas/flavors.
And how did it pair with the cheese you ask? I wish this was a part of the test. Personal note: I’d never had this kind of cheese before—nor this kind of wine. But when I saw the video posted below, I just knew I had to experience this wine for the first time with this cheese.
Indeed, if you’re not a fan of oxidative style wines or have some difficulty with them, this cheese definitely puts it into perspective. It has its own kind of funk that calms the racey acidity of the wine, creates a smoother mouthfeel, and makes what could be perceived as ‘odd flavors’ of the wine come across as decadent. But try it for yourself and tell me what you think.
I watched a BBC TV show on Netflix a few years ago—A Cook Abroad. When I started to study the chapter in the D3 text about Jura, something felt so familiar. After searching around (the video is no longer on Netflix) I was able to find my favorite episode of the series—Chef Monica Galetti visiting, you guessed it, the Jura region. And, yes, there is wine and cheese to be had. You’re welcome. 😉
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