Domaine Du Pelican Arbois Savagnin Ouille 2017
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The pure, elegant and clean 2017 Arbois Savagnin Ouillé is a more powerful vintage with concentration through low yields, but it still a straight and vertical white, with an unusual combination of power and elegance. There is a pleasant bitterness on the finish that somewhat offsets the ripeness of the year and makes the wine come through as nicely balanced. I tasted a 2015 for comparison, and that wine felt fresher than this, and the nose had more complexity and nuance.
François Duvivier makes this wine at the 34.6-acre estate he and Guillaume d’Angerville have assembled in Arbois, which includes the ten acres they took over from Jacques Puffeney after his retirement in 2014. This wine comes from two parcels planted on Jurassic marl mixed with tiny fossilized oyster shells. Duvivier ferments it in large barrels and then ages it in neutral 350-liter barrels for ten months, creating a savory savagnin with cider-apple notes and white-chalk tension. This needs several years to fully develop in bottle.
This sent him off on a five year search to find a choice location in the Jura. He consulted with a well-known geologist to find ideal vineyards. In the end, he and Francois Duvivier purchased two domaines, one with well tended vines and another where the vineyards were in need of some rehabilitation. At Chateau Chavanes in Montigny-les-Arsures, they created a state of the art winery surrounded by 5 hectares of biodynamically farmed vines that had been impeccably replanted 10 years prior by former owner Francois de Chavanes. The domaine is supported by an additional 5 hectares of chemically-free vines formerly farmed by Jean-Marc Brignot at a site of high-quality geology and exposure.
He named it Domaine du Pélican, a reference to the pelican on the crest of the city of Arbois.
All of Pélican's wines are currently made in a topped up, non-oxidative style.
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.