Jura benefits from Burgundian expertise8th November, 2013 by Gabriel Savage
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.
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.”