Vin Jaune: wine, grape variety, history
Vin Jaune, which translated into English would be yellow wine, is the oenological jewel of the Jura, an intense, oxidized wine, with a complex taste, full of dried fruit flavors, but with excellent freshness and unique thickness. It is not a simple and immediate wine, like all great oxidized wines it deserves all your attention, you have to get used to the palate and the nose, go back to primordial flavors and forget the standardized and industrial taste of conventional wine.
It is an immortal wine that can also age for 20 years and think that from 1 liter of wine produced, at the end of the process only 62 cl remain, the format of the famous pot-bellied bottle called clavelin. The production method is very similar to that of Spanish sherry and in fact, it is thanks to the mold that develops on the wine, the famous voile, that the wine ages and oxidizes slowly, without deteriorating.
But to say that Vin Jaune is a clone of sherry or Marsala or Vernaccia is nonsense, a barbaric simplification, because like every legendary wine it has its roots in the blue clays of the Jura, in its tradition and its culture of good drinking this French region. The wines of the Jura are all unequivocally gastronomic drinks, there are no wines to sip to be hipsters, here cuisine and wine are inextricably intertwined and have traveled on the same road since they were born, they are two sides of the same food and wine culture. It is no coincidence that the recommended and somewhat obvious pairing for Vin Jaune is the one with Bresse chicken, another great local specialty, but it is delicious even when paired with truffles, cured meats and river fish.
How is Vin Jaune made
It is made with 100% Savagnin, the typical grape of this region, which is believed to be the ancestor of Gewurztraminer. The grapes are harvested late, in late October, often even after they have been attacked by noble rot, they are then pressed and fermented in wood or steel and then put to rest in wood, where they often also undergo malolactic fermentation. Maceration on the skins is usually never very long, we are not talking about an orange wine, even if the color could be deceiving. In reality, the amber color is due to the long oxidation.
After a few months (up to 18 months) the wine is transferred to used barriques, which are left full for at least 10 liters so that oxygen can exert its oxidative function on the liquid. In this way, flor is created, a colony of living molds that act on the wine by transforming it, but at the same time protect it from too sudden and violent oxidation. And this is the secret, the hand of the winemaker and his sensitivity, the air, the humidity and the various positions in which the barrels are placed. Some put them in the attics, in deep cellars, and on the ground floor, even if the best result is obtained by making a mixture of different refinements to give more emphasis and depth to the wine.
Once again we recall the great myths of food and wine such as Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Vin Santo, Sherry, Marsala, all productions that could not be more humane, because the wine not only carries within itself the vintage and its characteristics, but also the passing of the seasons, the heat and the frost, the humidity. This is why it is not an easy wine, but it is also a masterpiece to fall madly in love with and which you will never do without, because this wine has four dimensions: it has managed to capture and make liquid the passage of time. We remind you that aging in full barrels lasts no less than six years, although there are wines that have rested for decades in barrels.
Vin Jaune production area
The bouquet is large, dominated by dried fruit such as hazelnuts and almonds, the fruit is ripe, but steeped in austerity, do not expect jam or muscles, here everything is whispered, mottled, full of moments of fleeting beauty and citrus and cinchona. It should be allowed to oxygenate a lot in the glass, so do not uncork it and then drink it immediately: give it time, wait for it to open in all its splendor and it will reward you with pungent medicinal, herbaceous, candied fruit and saffron aromas, but also spices and nutmeg for arriving up to tones of iodine, honey and amaretto in the finish.
Price of the Vin Jaune
Don’t expect a cheap wine, it wouldn’t be logical. The painstaking processing, the loss of at least 40% of the wine, the laborious and long refinement cause it to rise, as the price should be. It starts from a price of 65 euros and reaches 120 for the last few vintages if it is a wine with at least 10 years on its shoulders, it is almost 200 euros, but it is an excellent investment in any case: whether you drink it or want to buy as an investment and collectible wine.
Vin Jaune Food Pairings
As mentioned, the classic combination is Bresse chicken and white meats, but try it also with the traditional saucisse de morteau, but also the legendary cheese of the area the Comte and obviously with fish dishes, seafood or duck dishes. smoked. Try it with truffle risotto, tagliatelle with meat sauce, Valle d’Aosta fondue and Roman-style gnocchi.