Thursday 21 July 2011

France | Rare vintage: the Jura region's best wine experiences

This weekend the Festi'Caves festival takes place in the Jura region in eastern France, featuring music, gastronomy and visits to winemakers. Here are our recommendations of where to enjoy the region's distinctive food and wine

              How green is your vallée ... vineyard in the Jura region, France

The Jura region is a part of France that hasn't been discovered by mass tourism, and in the same way, the very distinctive wines that are produced here are not yet very well-known. But winemakers are beginning to open vineyard B&Bs, local bistros serve regional cuisine, and there are some wonderful wines to taste, from sparkling crémant, the local savagnin and trousseau grapes, to the noble vin jaune.

Domaine Treuvey

One of the rising stars of the new generation of Jura winemakers, Remi Treuvey took over the family vineyards in 2003 and his wines are fast making a reputation for themselves. Although he only has four hectares of vines, a tasting at Remi's cellar takes you right through the gamut of the region's highly original grapes, many only grown locally. Be sure to try one of the little-known cépages such as Poulsard which he calls "pink attitud"; it may look like a rosé but is actually a complex red. Prices are extremely reasonable, with a crisp, bubbly Crémant costing €6.50, and the majority of whites and reds at €7-10.
• 18 petite rue Villette-les-Arbois (+33 84 66 14 51,

Domaine Salvadori

                             Domaine Salvadori, Jura       All photographs: John Brunton

Jean-Pierre Salvadori is very much an old-fashioned winemaker, based in the picturesque village of Château-Chalon, where the most famous vin jaune (literally yellow wine) is produced. This is by far the most expensive Jura wine, whose unique 62cl bottle costs between €25-€30, because it has to be aged for six years and three months in oak casks before going on sale. If you call before, Monsieur Salvadori can arrange an interesting tasting of his wines accompanied by delicious home-baked patisseries. To compare with a more modern viticulteur, who aims to produce organic vins naturels, it is worth popping across the road to the cellar of Jean-Claude Credoz.
• rue des Chevres, Château-Chalon (+33 3 84 44 62 86)

Les Jardins sur Glantines

                        Les Jardins sur Glantines, Jura

The first guests have made their reservations at what promises to be the most interesting winemaker's B&B in the Jura. Ludwig Bindernagel is a quirky architect-turned-winemaker from Munich, whose sulphate-free wines are sold in many of the hippest restaurants in Paris. His partner Nathalie was a finalist in the French version of MasterChef, and they have just bought a rambling mansion, with two luxury two-room suites for guests. You can taste Ludwig's excellent wines over an early evening aperitif, or ask Nathalie to prepare a wine-pairing dinner, where you might try a glass of pinot noir with a delicate amuse bouche of foie gras, date and truffle.
• Doubles €120 per night B&B. 30 grande rue, Poligny (+33 3 63 86 50 78,

Le Relais de la Perle

                             Le Relais de la Perle, Jura

Opened at the end of last year, this elegant five-room B&B is housed in an ancient cuvage, where grapes were traditionally pressed after harvest. Although the owners don't make their own wine, this is a renowned wine-making village, and guests head off for tastings in the vaulted cellar of nearby viticulteur, Hubert Clavelin ( The relais also has its own montgolfier balloon for those game for a spectacular trip above the vineyards.
• Doubles from €89 per night B&B. 184 route de Voiteur, Levernois (+33 3 84 25 95 52,

Chez Janine

                             Chez Janine food, Jura

This is the kind of village bistro that everyone dreams of discovering. Madame Andre, known to everyone as "Dede", is the third generation of her family to run this cosy locale that is the place for locals and winemakers to play cards and table soccer, discuss politics and sport, and organise the summer tournament of pétanque. Dede's speciality is a fantastic €8 planche comtoise, a copious plate of local cheeses, smoked ham and charcuterie. A glass of Côte de Jura will set you back €1.30.
• Route de la Vallee, Nevy-sur-Seille (+33 3 84 44 62 43)

La Finette Taverne d'Arbois

                           La Finette Taverne d'Arbois, Jura

The viticulteur who made Jura wines known throughout France is Henri Maire, and although there are now many more interesting producers, it is still worth stopping for meal in his Taverne d'Arbois. Resembling a rustic hunting chalet, this is not the place for a gourmet meal, but rather to savour traditional regional fare, served in hearty portions and at reasonable prices. Popular with tourists and locals, the menu features specialities such as a fondue made with three differently aged Comté cheeses, tasty Morteau sausages, and free-range chicken cooked in vin jaune.
• Three- course menu from €15.50. 22 avenue Louis Pasteur, Arbois (+33 3 84 66 08 82,

Les Salines

                        Les Salines, Jura

Salins-les-Bains is an anonymous spa town today, but hidden beneath the ground are a maze of galleries and caverns where salt has been extracted for more than 1,200 years. A unique location that was recognised as a Unesco world heritage site in 2009, the last salt workers laid down their tools 50 years ago. The informative guided tour of the mysterious tunnels and the modern Salt Museum vividly evoke the brutal conditions labourers endured to extract this "white gold".
• Place des Salines, Salins-les-Bains,

Baumes-les Messieurs

                           Baumes-les Messieurs B&B

This is the one must-see village in all of the Jura. Hidden away in a recul, a verdant cul-de-sac surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, tiny stone cottages are clustered around an immense abbey. Although mass is still held in the vast Romanesque church, monks no longer live in the abbey, and several rooms have been turned into a plush B&B, pictured above, (doubles €90,, while the medieval kitchens host the Gothique restaurant (, where chef Jerome cooks creative dishes using strictly local products. At the end of the village, there is a romantic waterfall, the Casades de Tuf.

Vins et Vinaigres

                       Vins et Vinaigres, Jura

While Arbois is one of the Jura's most important wine-making towns, it is also where food-lovers come to discover the incredible wine vinegars made by Philippe Gonet, which are used in the kitchens of Michelin chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Georges Blanc. In a murky 17th-century cellar underneath the boutique, Gonet works like a medieval alchemist transforming high quality wines into gourmet vinegars. He started off with vin jaune, and now produces a range that covers each of the region's different grapes. The boutique also stocks an extensive selection of local wines.
• 16 grande rue, Arbois (

Fromagerie de la Pleure

                     Fromagerie de la Pleure, Jura

The Jura is big on traditions and every town has its own fruitière, a rural co-operative that can group together wine makers, fruit producers or cheese makers. Pleure may only have 400 inhabitants,  but master fromager Bruno Sommer, collects some 2 million litres of milk from surrounding farms each year to produce an outstanding Comté cheese. He gets up each day at 4am to collect the milk, and if you arrive early enough, you can watch him in the dairy making the cheeses. Apart from the sharp, fruity Comté, he also produces the mild, creamy Morbier, and a stronger bleu de gex.

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