Lifting the Veil on Vin Jaune

Continued from Savagnin: Grape & Wine of the Jura

The prized wine of the Jura region in France is Vin Jaune. Meaning yellow wine, this is wine made entirely from Savagnin grapes and aged for at least 6 years and 3 months in oak barrels. Vin Jaune is non ouillé; the barrels are not topped up with wine to replace the liquid lost during evaporation.

What sets this wine apart from any other long aging wine is “le voile.” Meaning the veil in English, this is a layer of yeast that forms on top of the liquid over time as the wine mixes with air. Wine for Vin Jaune is aged above ground, not below in caves. This is best for cultivating the yeast that forms the veil.

It may not be the prettiest thing to look at with its grayish-brown color and bubbles, but le voile is what makes Vin Jaune — and the Jura region — so special. The veil is something that can only happen with Savagnin, and only with the yeasts that are naturally occurring in the Jura. It is a tradition of winemaking that goes back many generations.

Why go through this long and somewhat unusual process? Think of Vin Jaune like a dry aged steak. When beef is dry aged it develops a layer of mold on the outside, similar to le voile. The meat shrinks in size as moisture evaporates, just like wine aging in barrels. But when it is finally time to eat that dry aged steak the taste is phenomenal.

Like a dry aged steak, Vin Jaune has savory nutty and ripe cheese flavors. Yet at the same time Vin Jaune is dry, with bright acidity and fresh citrus notes. The combination of these seemingly opposite flavors is what makes Vin Jaune so exciting to drink. You could spend hours discussing this wine.

Vin Jaune can range in color from straw yellow to gold. The wine is clear and is 14% alcohol.

Savagnin wine is like a baby Vin Jaune because its aging ends sometime before the mandated 6 years and 3 months. Because of Vin Jaune’s longer aging its flavors are similar to those in Savagnin wine, only more intense.

Flavors in Vin Jaune can include ripe Camembert cheese, green and golden apple, candied orange peel, lemon and lemon peel, ginger, nutmeg, curry, vanilla, sandalwood, almond, hazelnut and walnut. There’s a touch of rancio, a wine term often used with Cognac that describes the mix of woodsy, earthy and musty flavors.

Oxidative flavors are present in Vin Jaune, yet the acidity keeps the wine fresh. This acidity makes Vin Jaune great for aging. If you taste a Vin Jaune that is 5, 10 or 20 plus years old it will still have those fresh notes.

A traditional way to enjoy Vin Jaune is after a meal with Comté cheese and walnuts. Other pairings include curry or saffron based dishes, foie gras, coq au Vin Jaune, trout, shellfish or morels. Vin Jaune should be served chilled, between 57ºF and 60ºF. Winemakers in the Jura suggest uncorking a bottle of Vin Jaune an hour before drinking.

The finest Vin Jaune comes from the AOC Château-Chalon, located in the heart of the Jura. A picturesque perched village gives the AOC its name.

Related Articles:
Savagnin: Grape & Wine of the Jura
An Introduction to the Jura
Harvest in the Jura Video

Return to the main page of The Amateur Gastronomer in Jura

Introducing the 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Click for the 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau tasting notes

Here it is, your first look at the 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau from Georges Duboeuf.

The label art is almost as anticipated as the wine; Georges Duboeuf has a different theme each year along with a colorful and creative label. Click bottles to enlarge image.

This year’s theme is “Nouveau Expression,” a celebration of creativity, self expression and enjoying the moment. The graffiti-inspired artwork was designed by Brooklyn artist Michael McLeer who goes by the name Kaves.

“I wanted to create a celebration in a neighborhood that could be anywhere in the world with bright energy and a positive vibe,” Kaves told importer W.J. Deutsch & Sons. “The corner of LIVE and LOVE is where I want to be. It’s a place where people live in the moment and love life. Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebration of friends and wine. My painting is a celebration of life. The two are a perfect pair.”

Artists across the country are invited to join Kaves and share their talents through the Nouveau Expression: Be Heard online art contest. The works of ten finalists will be exhibited at the uncorking party in New York. Submissions will be accepted until October 15th on Georges Duboeuf’s Facebook page.

Though the rest of the world will have to wait until November 17th to take a taste, Georges Duboeuf has declared the 2011 vintage to be terrific.

“2011 will be a great millésime in Beaujolais – complex, serious, solid and rich in delicious flavors. There is something divine about it. It is like nature has granted, under the sunshine of April, June and August, a dazzling body.”

According to Duboeuf, the wine is very deep purple with aromas of ripe wild strawberries, red and black currants, blueberries and a slight touch of peach. The palate is voluptuous and full bodied, enriched by well-rounded yet lively tannins.

Beaujolais Nouveau comes from the Burgundy region of France and is made entirely of Gamay grapes. The wine is released just after midnight on the third Thursday of November in accordance with French law.

The 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau from Georges Duboeuf will cost $10 a bottle.

Related Articles:
Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 Est Arrivé
Interview with George Duboeuf’s Export Director for North America
Peace, Love and Beaujolais Nouveau (2009 Beaujolais Nouveau)
Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2008 Est Arrivé

A Taste of Finger Lakes Riesling

With its cool climate and the influence of lakes and hills, the Finger Lakes region in New York is well suited for Riesling. This AVA (American Viticultural Area) is located in the western part of the state, about a five hour drive from New York City.

The 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings are available now and are examples of the high quality wines being produced in New York state.

According to the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, the 2010 harvest was the warmest growing season in nearly 40 years and the wettest since 1973.

Join the Amateur Gastronomer in the video below for a tasting of four 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings.

Wines tasted:

Anthony Road Wine Company 2010 Dry Riesling

Anthony Road Wine Company opened in 1990 and is located on the west side of Seneca Lake.
Tasting notes: Crisp flavors of apple, honeydew and lemon with a clean finish that has a hint of lemongrass.
alcohol 12.1% by volume

Lucas Vineyards 2010 Dry Riesling

Lucas Vineyards was established in 1980 and is located on the west side of Cayuga Lake.
Tasting notes: A refreshing mix of floral and citrus with notes of white flowers, jasmine, apricot and ripe lemon.
alcohol 11.7% by volume

Keuka Spring Vineyards 2010 Riesling

Keuka Spring Vineyards was founded in 1985 and is located on the east side of Keuka Lake.
Tasting Notes: This off-dry Riesling is a nice balance between dry and sweet. Flavors of Meyer lemon, tangerine and orange blossom with good acidity and a smooth finish.
alcohol 11.5% by volume

Rooster Hill Vineyards 2010 Medium Sweet Riesling

Rooster Hill Vineyards was founded in 2002 and is located on the east side of Keuka Lake.
Tasting notes: Ripe flavors of peach, apricot and lemon culminate in a tangy finish with a hint of tangerine.
alcohol 12.1% volume

If you can’t find Finger Lakes Riesling in your local wine shop you can order directly from the wineries via their websites. Shipping varies by state.

Party at Ponce: A Celebration for Ponce City Market


More than 2,000 people joined some of Atlanta’s favorite chefs on October 1st at Party at Ponce, a celebration at the future home of Ponce City Market.

The former Sears, Roebuck and Co. distribution center on Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast is set to undergo a massive overhaul, transforming the 2 million square foot structure into Atlanta’s next premiere shopping and dining destination.

The open area where guests feasted will one day be restaurant and retail space.

Ponce City Market will house an indoor food hall and stores on the lower levels, and office and residential space above.

For Chef Jay Swift, whose restaurant 4th and Swift is across the street on North Avenue, the Ponce City Market will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

“This is the renaissance of the Old 4th Ward, this is what we were waiting for,” said Chef Swift.  “I’m sure there will be lots of great businesses in here, there’s going to be jobs, and lots of opportunities in the neighborhood, and it’s just great.”

Ponce City Market is being developed by Jamestown and Green Street Properties, whose past projects have included Chelsea Market in New York City and White Provision on the west side of Atlanta.

Chef Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen has been a part of the revitalized Westside district.

“The Westside has been huge, it’s really turned that area,” said Chef Fry.  “Now as far as here, I mean it’s just going to be amazing.  This is the biggest development I think the city has seen in I don’t know how long.  It’s just going to be incredible.”

Cooler temperatures didn’t deter people from enjoying food trucks parked outdoors or performances by the Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins and Francine Reed.

Party at Ponce was a chance to tour the Sears building before it is shut for renovation – and to imagine what the Ponce City Market will look like.

The development of Ponce City Market is expected to be complete in early 2014.

Saturday’s event benefited the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and Georgia Organics and raised $80,000 for the two organizations.