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Wednesday 22 October 2014

Jura benefits from Burgundian expertise

8th November, 2013 by Gabriel Stone

Burgundy’s Domaine Marquis d’Angerville is seeking to raise the reputation of Jura as it launches its first wines from this remote corner of eastern France.

François Duvivier and Guillaume d'Angerville show off their new Jura project

François Duvivier and Guillaume d’Angerville show off their new Jura project

Having bought a five hectare property last July, the producer unveiled its inaugural 2012 vintage from Domaine du Pélican, which takes its name from the symbol of the nearby town of Arbois.

The project features three different wines: a red blend of Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard, a Chardonnay and a Savagnin, each with an RRP of around £27.99 per bottle.

Introducing the wines, Guillaume d’Angerville stressed his ambition not only to make Domaine du Pélican the top producer in this region, but also to help raise the overall standard of winemaking and with it the international profile of the Jura.

“Eighty percent of Jura wines are consumed locally,” he told the drinks business, noting also the absence of any other vineyard owners from outside the region. “When we first got into the Jura we very quickly realised that we could bring access to international markets as well as winemaking experience,” he remarked.

Commenting on the current quality levels in this region, d’Angerville observed: “There are some very good producers in the Jura, but the average is not good enough. It’s where Burgundy was 30 or 40 years ago. One of our missions is to bring everyone up the quality ladder.”

Working in partnership with Domaine Marquis d’Angerville’s estate manager François Duvivier, who led the Volnay-based Burgundy estate’s conversion to biodynamics when he first arrived there eight years ago, the Jura team has been able to take advantage of the €2 million “state of the art” winery put in place by the previous owner.

On top of temperature control technology, which d’Angerville suggested was very rare in this region, he added that his domaine currently boasts “the only sorting table in Jura”. Meanwhile in the vineyards he explained: “We are bringing a care to the treatment of berries that is non-existent in Jura.”

Suggesting that his new neighbours are “very curious” about this approach, d’Angerville emphasised: “We want and we need to exchange; we want to entire area to improve – we will not on our own make Jura more visible.”

At present, Domaine du Pélican does not produce the region’s most famous style, vin jaune, an oxidative wine made from the Savagnin variety, which develops a protective layer of yeast during a period of around six years in barrel to create a style reminiscent of fino Sherry.

“One day we will certainly try to make oxidative wines,” confirmed d’Angerville. “In order to be a complete estate we will need a vin jaune in our range, but the aim first is to make wines that are not oxidative.”

Explaining the Jura’s attraction as a new project, d’Angerville admitted that he had not originally considered this region when he decided to expand. Having been frustrated by efforts to add to his family’s Burgundy holdings – “in the last 10 years it has been possible for me to buy just 0.7ha and everybody knows that I am a buyer” – his thoughts turned to other parts of France.

“There is Beaujolais but it’s been done,” remarked d’Angerville in a reference to acquisitions by other Burgundy producers such as Louis Jadot and Louis Latour in this region. “So I was thinking Alsace or the Loire but that’s too far.”

A chance recommendation of a Jura Chardonnay by the sommelier at Parisian three-Michelin starred restaurant Taillevent in 2008 sparked this inspiration for an alternative focus.

“I got really excited having mistaken this Arbois wine for a Burgundy wine,” recalled d’Angerville, who noted both the geological similarities of these two regions as well as their proximity. “It is only one hour from Volnay,” he remarked. “Chablis is further away than the Jura.”

In a bid to achieve the “critical mass” he feels is required to achieve both profitability and profile for these wines, d’Angerville has already bought another 5ha property in the region and suggested he would like to increase his total holdings to around 18ha.

Although bought at a similar time to his other Jura property, d’Angerville explained that while the first was in good condition, the second “needed uprooting and will not produce until 2015.”

As for the initial reaction to these wines, d’Angerville confirmed that the allocation for his 2012 vintage had already been entirely taken up, with particularly strong interest from his US importer, who “wanted to take my whole production.” Indeed, he noted: “There’s a bit of a fad in the US for Jura wines.”

Meanwhile Mike Laing, managing director of Armit, which has the exclusive agency for Domaine du Pélican in the UK, suggested there was a “very good opportunity” for these wines in this market.

“Given the size of the domaine this is not big, industrial quantities of wine that are about to come flooding into the market,” he told db, “but in terms of the image of Jura wine in the UK this is exactly what needs to happen.”

5 Responses to “Jura benefits from Burgundian expertise”

  1. Wink Lorch says:

    This indeed is great news for Jura and the wines are very good, especially the Savagnin Ouillé (non-oxidative). If the domaine fully participates in the Jura wine region’s activities, it will be wonderful to help the Jurassiens with promotion, which is not their strongest suit.

    However, Guillaume d’Angerville is incorrect on two counts. Firstly, he is not the first outsider to come into the region. Domaine Rijckaert of the Mâconnais has owned vineyards and made some very good Jura white wines there for over a decade. Secondly, I don’t believe they have the only sorting table in Jura – there are others. The quality of wines and standard of winemaking has improved quite steadily in the past few years since the idea for this project took hold.

    I do believe Domaine du Pélican will enjoy great success and I hope that this encourages more quality outsiders to come into the region – there are currently opportunities to be taken.

  2. Congrats to d’Angerville for investing in the Jura. If the success of the first UK Jura trade & press tasting (which took place in London last May) is anything to go by, the UK is also falling in love with the region’s wines. Stylish Chardonnays and Jura fizz provide excellent value to customers and the last few months have seen a real burst of activity in the UK on and off-trade with new listings and promotional initiatives. Fantastic to see Armit wave the Jura flag!

  3. David Crossley says:

    I agree with Wink. I was going to mention Rijckaert. But I also believe the Jura already has a list of internationally recognised producers who are as well known to genuine wine lovers, or almost, in London, New York and San Francisco as the D’Angerville domaine in its current form. I’m sure D’Angerville can help with marketing, but (and I’ve yet to taste the Pélican wines, unlike Wink) I’m more sceptical on quality claims. We shall see whether they will match the region’s best producers any time soon. But I do wish the D’Angerville team every success, which they will surely achieve with hard work. And perhaps if they see the education as a two-way thing.

  4. Sue Boxell says:

    Great news of course but Guillaume d’Angerville could have consulted Wink Lorch (the expert) before releasing a press release with these inaccuracies. I wonder how many wine domaines they visited in the Jura before setting up in the region….??

  5. Mike Laing says:

    I am of course delighted to see such interest in Domaine du Pelican. As UK importers, Armit Wines looks forward very much to showing these exciting wines to both Jura converts and those less initiated in the years ahead. The 2012s are outstandingly good for a debut vintage but there is much more to come in the future which is a genuine excitement for us all. Guillaume and Francois are absolutely committed for the long term. As a close observer of their work in Volnay, I have every confidence in their abilities which is precisely why Armit Wines had no hesitation in agreeing to be the exclusive distributor in the UK.

    I would however like to take the opportunity to clear up a couple of points, if I may, that seem to be causing some debate and consternation, particularly in the region itself, which is obviously important to address.

    Firstly, Guillaume d’Angerville’s intention is not to come into the Jura and tell people how to make wine. Not at all. As those who know him well will attest, it is hard to think of a vigneron less motivated by ego and more motivated by history and respect for what has gone before. The DB article correctly quotes him as wishing there to be an exchange (with his new neighbours) and hoping that the image of the region as a whole can be raised as a result of his arrival there but it also states that Pelican will not achieve this alone. At no point, and I was there whilst this conversation was being had, did anyone suggest that Burgundians know it all and Jurassiens are somehow in the dark nor that Guillaume’s arrival was in some way Messianic. That would be horribly arrogant and is simply a misrepresentation, if that is what readers understand from this report. That improvements in viticulture and vinification could be made, including the use of biodynamics and sorting tables? Yes, absolutely. That also applies to just about every wine region in the world, of course.

    Secondly, Guillaume never claimed to be the first outsider into the Jura. He knows perfectly well that Jean Rijckaert was there before (as do I as we used to sell both his Arbois and Macon wines). What Guillaume actually said was that he was the first Burgundian.

    Thirdly, Guillaume has not issued a press release. He has simply shown the wines, at my suggestion, to DB to communicate their launch to the UK trade and has explained how and why they came to be. The words that have been written are hence DB’s not his.

    Fourthly, Guillaume is willing to concede to Wink Lorch’s point that there may indeed be other sorting tables in the Jura. That it is viewed as being a relatively uncommon practice is presumably not in dispute, which is the point he was making.

    The title for the article implies that Burgundians wish to teach their neighbours how things should be done. This is a shame as that is not at all what this is about. What drew Guillaume to the region is its enormous potential to make great wine and that would have been a far more positive story had it been the one that was chosen. He himself acknowledges openly that he cannot make the full range of Jura styles, yet, as that is not his experience but he is eager to learn (the exchange). A Domaine du Pelican Vin Jaune will exisit one day, I am sure, and I for one would back him to put in the work that will enable it to be a damn good one.

    Mike Laing, Armit WInes

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