• Electric Slide to Côtes du Jura: François Rousset-Martin

    Electric Slide to Côtes du Jura: François Rousset-Martin

    I’ve had an insatiable craving for Jura Chardonnay ever since drinking Stéphane Tissot's 2016 Les Bruyères Arbois Chardonnay. Granted, that was two years ago, and I've since learned that Tissot is a rare fish in the Jura's sea of white wines, many of which too brett-heavy or lactic-tasting for my taste. But continuing the search for gems, I'm adding another name to the list—here's my latest discovery (and obsession) that has jolted my love for Jura back to life.

    Today, I’m happy to offer a lineup of François Rousset-Martin’s Chardonnays, Savagnins, and Aligoté.

    Château-Chalon is best known for its sherry-like vin jaune, made from the Savagnin grape and aged under a veil of flor, but François is more interested in making his wines in the ouillé (topped-up) style. He’s also keen to explore his appellation’s micro-terroir, similar to what Stéphane Tissot has done in Arbois, farming almost two-dozen small parcels (all of which a hectare or smaller) in Château-Chalon and Côtes du Jura. Like the rest of the Jura, soils here are abundant in clay, marl, limestone, and François proves that Château-Chalon can produce just as soulful ouillé whites as the more popular Arbois and Pupillin appellations.

    Whether it's the Chardonnay, Savagnin, or even the Aligoté, each flaunts its variety's typicity with invigorating enthusiasm; I use the word "electric" often, but it especially applies here. I'd be happy drinking any of these whites, but a highlight was the 2018 La Chaux. It leads with yellow citrus, laser acidity, and slight reduction, but with air, it opens into concentration and depth familiar to White Burgundy (All of the wines have slight reduction that integrates over time; decanting is a plus). Each wine is also vinified by climat (or parcel) with little to no sulfur and bottled unfined and unfiltered. You won’t see Château-Chalon designated on the bottle because these aren't made to vin jaune customs.

    François grew up in Burgundy, and his family-owned and farmed a parcel of vines in the Jura. His interest in the science (and terroir) of wine largely comes from his father, a microbiologist for the Hospices de Beaune. Likewise, François's great grandfather taught him the mystic side of wine and family winemaking lore. He earned an enology degree and apprenticed in Rhône and Languedoc before starting his domaine in 2007.


    Chardonnay // La Chaux really encapsulates the magic of ouillé whites here in Château Chalon. From 65-year-old vines, it's the most reminiscent of White Burgundy and the only parcel to be planted on limestone in addition to gray and white marl. The Terres Blanches is the only Jura parcel outside of Château Chalon. It comes from 40-year-old vines in the village of Lavigny, planted on gray and white marl. Fermented and aged in barrel for 15 months.

    Savagnin // For Puits Saint Pierre, or Saint Pierre’s Well, the cuvée name refers to a climat within Château Chalon. This is the oldest parcel of the lineup (80-plus-year-old vines planted on gray marl) and the only wine that sees partial sous-voile; it's aged under flor for 6 months then topped off for 10 months. Cuvee du Professeur comes from a parcel named after François’s father, a professor at the University of Dijon. The 30-year-old vines are planted on gray marl. Aged and topped up for a minimum of 14 months.

    Aligoté // This is somewhat of an outlier, as it's sourced from Bouzeron, the Aligoté-only appellation in Burgundy's Côte Chalonnaise. Like many of François's parcels in the Jura, Aligatô's single hectare of 40-year-old vines is planted on gray marl. It fits into the lineup with its atomic core of citrus, smooth-mineral texture, a brilliant reductive finish.


    Posted by Sydney Love
  • Old Guard Hermitage: Bernard Faurie

    Old Guard Hermitage: Bernard Faurie

    From "the last of the Mohicans" to "wise old man of the hill," there are many ways importer Kermit Lynch can describe the guru of whole cluster Hermitage, Bernard Faurie. My July 2018 visit with Bernard was one I'll never forget. Primarily because of our rapid ascent up his parcels of Hermitage where I tried to keep pace with the spry and seasoned vigneron. If Hermitage is the world's most regal expression of Syrah, Bernard Faurie is surely its most ardent traditionalist.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a range of Bernard Faurie's Hermitage stretching from 2001 through 2017.

    The greatest selling point of Faurie's Hermitage comes down to Bernard's minuscule holdings of just 1.7 hectares, all comprised of vines over 100 years of age. While labels may look identical, Bernard separates Hermitage's parcels into distinct bottlings differentiated by capsule color.

    Cream capsule: Gréffieux/Bessards
    Gold capsule: Bessards/Méal
    Gold capsule with 'M': Méal
    Gold capsule w/ unique lot number: Greffieux/Bessards/Méal
    Red capsule: Bessards

    Smoke, roasted meats, black pepper, violets, blackberry, plum, and olive tapenade are quintessential descriptors of Northern Rhône Syrah. In Faurie's hands, through the most old school methods of vinification and élevage, his Hermitage captures a haunting and understated style that can floor you as much for its intensity as for its floral vitality and granitic mineral delicacy. Though shy early on, there's no Syrah that holds the freshness of fruit for decades in bottle like Bernard Faurie. A stunning bottle of 1988 made clear just what kind of glacial pace we can expect in the aging curve.

    Whole cluster Hermitage is a rarity. Many feel the true reflection of the great hill of the Northern Rhône should have a suave finesse and a clear sense of nobility. After all, the spice and accentuated tannin from 100% whole cluster Syrah can be formidable here, but that is why Faurie is in a league of his own. Bernard eschews gloss and a forward fruit style, instead targeting a savory Syrah profile with chiseled structure.

    Annual allocations from Faurie have been extremely limited due to the size of production, and that's why today I'm happy to offer this deep collection from Hermitage's old guard.


    Posted by Max Kogod