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On the foothills of the Jura Mountains, just east of the Cote de Beaune on the Switzerland border, the Jura wine-producing zone is recognized for its unique reds, as well as its particular and diverse styles of whites.
Though borrowed from their neighbor Burgundy, Chardonnay and Pinot noir have been growing in Jura since the Middle Ages. But here the altitude, topography, climate and clay-rich, marl soils support a different style of Pinot noir, not to mention its other deeply-colored, full-bodied indigenous reds, Poulsard and Trousseau.
Considering area under vine, growers here favor Chardonnay for its consistency and reliability; it comprises almost half of Jura's vineyard acreage. However, Jura Chardonnay is anything but boring; its many offbeat styles are part of what make region’s wines so distinctive. It is used for Cremant (sparkling), Macvin (a fortified wine), as well as fine examples at the quality level of Burgundy.
Jura also has a unique oxidative style for Chardonnay but is better recognized for its similarly-styled “vin jaune,” meaning ‘yellow wine,’ which is made from the indigenous variety, Savagnin. Vin jaune is made using techniques similar to those used to make Sherry.
For all of its wines, Jura favors a traditional, natural and often organic style in viticulture and winemaking.
An ancient and genetically valuable vine variety with origins in NE France, Savagnin is a parent to many modern varieties but is most associated today with the Jura. It is responsible for a few styles of wine, the idiosyncratic Vin Jaune, a wine matured in barrel under a film of flor yeast and the sweet, concentrated Vin de Paille. Savagnin also makes a charming sparkling or still wine and is often found in blends with Chardonnay. Somm Secret—While Savagnin is an off-spring of Pinot, Savagnin is a parent of Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltiner, Sauvignon Blanc, Silvaner and Trousseau.