There's no producer in the Jura that executes brilliance across such a diverse range of wines and styles like that of Stéphane Tissot. And, "BBF" is the sparkling white from the Jura that you've always wanted to find in your glass. As a category, Cremant du Jura can be delicious and pleasing but rarely would take your mind to Champagne. BBF delivers here.
The name is a play on the use of 228-liter barrels for elévage, Blanc de Blancs élevé en Fût. Where this benchmark Cremant du Jura diverges from champagne is in its faint nutty aromas, baking spices, and ripe tropical notes. However, the structure is as serious as much of what you are to find from the Aube, with even more salinity and razor-fine cut reminiscent of the Côte de Blancs.
Tissot took control of his family's domaine in 1990 and worked very quickly to drastically reduce yields and convert the vineyards to organic and biodynamic viticulture. Today, Stéphane is seen as one of the world's most respected and prominent voices on the subject.
Tissot's Chardonnays each have that unmistakable reductive, flinty note that's often referred to as Noble Reduction. If you're a fan of the wines of Jean-Marc Roulot and Coche-Dury in Meursault, this distinctive smokey and matchstick trait, at its best, adds mesmerizing personality to Chardonnay.
I’ve had an insatiable craving for Jura Chardonnay ever since drinking Stéphane Tissot's Les Bruyères Chardonnay. Granted, that was several years ago, and Tissot is a rare fish in the Jura's sea of white wines, many of them being too reductive, and the reds often too brett-heavy. But searching for other gems, François Rousset-Martin is a recent discovery that jolted my love for the Jura back to life.
The Château-Chalon appellation is best known for its sherry-like vin jaune wines, made from the Savagnin grape and aged under a veil of flor. But François is more interested in the ouillé (or topped-up) style and exploring micro-terroir (similar to what Stéphane Tissot has done in Arbois). He farms almost two-dozen small parcels (all of which are a hectare or less) in Château-Chalon and Côtes du Jura. Like the rest of the Jura, the soils are abundant in clay, marl, and limestone. Château-Chalon doesn't appear on any bottle labels, as these do not follow the custom vin jaune style.
François grew up in Burgundy, and his family has owned and farmed a parcel of vines in the Jura for generations. His interest in the science and terroir of wine stems from his father (He was a microbiologist for the Hospices de Beaune), and it was his great grandfather who taught him about the family's mystical winemaking lore. Rousset-Martin earned an enology degree and apprenticed in Rhône and Languedoc before starting his domaine in 2007. He vinifies each wine by climat (or parcel) with little to no sulfur and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Photo Credit: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
The Jura has remained quietly tucked in a sleepy corner of France an hour's drive east. This region certainly has its enthusiasts, but for the most part, the wines historically had been sold in France. However, one evening at a Parisian restaurant set in motion a series of events that would ultimately be a turning point for the Jura.
It was at this Parisian restaurant that Guillaume D'Angerville of Domaine Marquis d'Angerville in Volnay asked the sommelier to blind pour him a glass of wine. The one rule Guillaume had that evening was that it couldn't be from Burgundy. The sommelier poured him Stéphane Tissot's Arbois Les Bruyères, and the rest was history.
At first, locals in Arbois weren't thrilled about D'Angerville's arrival. However, his true fondness for the wines and the history of the small region quickly revealed itself. He made it clear that his goal was to bring worldwide awareness to the great and incredibly unique wines of the Jura. Several properties were purchased and converted to organic and biodynamic practices, including some of Jacques Puffeney's holdings.
In the magically distinctive Jura region, there are certain pockets where varieties blossom into their greatest and truest possible form. For Poulsard, locally known as Ploussard, it's the tiny village of Pupillin, located just south of Arbois. I was on the hunt for an example that lived up to what I drank while visiting the village in 2012, and after tasting through importer Neal Rosenthal's current releases, I was instantly drawn to Overynoy-Crinquand's Pupillin Ploussard.
Mickael Crinquand is the fourth generation to farm these five hectares, all of which have been farmed organically since the '80s. Here, the red clay-limestone marl soil is planted to all of the standard Jura varieties: Trousseau, Chardonnay, and Savagnin, but the oldest vines today are Poulsard.
Fermentation and aging take place in large foudre with pumpovers kept to a bare minimum to limit extraction. This protocol gives a whispery lace structure to Poulsard and highlights everything I love about the variety's fresh strawberry and sweet cinnamon-spiced inflection. In the glass, there's the palest of red hues you'll ever find, with a slight rust-colored tinge. Surprisingly, though, a sturdy tannic structure holds this featherweight in a way that provides a thrilling sense of grip.
Over the last decade, the Jura has brought us a new level of excitement and fascination for their native, obscure varieties. There aren't many importers who can touch Rosenthal's sense of mission in finding these smaller domaines that show their sense of place under the most sensitive and deft touch. Poulsard often shows a huge disparity in styles and, to be blunt, soundness due to its reductive and finicky nature. Overynoy-Crinquand showcases the rarefied air of Poulsard with brightness and purity unlike anyone else.