Once more into the breach, taking my trousseau, a racing pouls(ard) and grabbing the voile (veil). It will be come clear.
It is an interesting phenonomen that Jura wines have long been more popular in the States than in France itself. Or at least that’s what Jacques Puffeny told me yesterday. They also do well in the UK, Xeres oblige.
Ben oui, things were a bit tendu à la maison so time for a bol d’air frais and a trip to the Jura. An hour out of rainy Brognon I was crossing the street in absolutely pelting it down Arbois to make landfall at the Balance Mets et Vins restaurant.
A apéritif of Savagnin and then a a glass of Poulsard and Trousseau with my Coq au Vin Jaune et Morilles (a healhy number of delicious Morilles to boot), and then a final glass of Savagnin with my cheese (Bleu de Gex, Morbier and, inevitably Comté). Aftera coffee I set off rather jubilantly to find some cavistes to buy Monsieur Puffeney’s Vin jaune and Trousseau for an on going order.
Jacques Puffeney ostensibly retired with the 2014 vintage, and the domaine has been sold to Volnay’s Marquis d’Angerville (very fine wine there too!) As I was only a mile a way I thought I might as well try to visit and buy direct. Driving up to Montigny tested the very meaning of my Volvo X70, a vertiginous ascent and tiny streets and there by miracle was Jacques standing at his cellar door. Od course I could come in and have a taste…I get the impression in the Jura and particulalry in VIn Jaune, time moves at a slower pace.
Taking my very life in my hands I parked and wheeled myself to the cellar door, where Jacques gave me a helping push. Inside, surrounding by large oak foudres of vin jaune, trousseau et al, he let me taste through the current releases.
Like Bouchard in Beaune, in the Jura they taste reds first. The Poulsard is a light, local grape, it has charm and elegance and a thoughtfully forceful structure. The Trousseau, equally parochial, has more force, more fruit and will need more time to come round. But both have potential to age, and these were substantially more eloquent than those at lunch.
Their character which could best be described as mince (slim) as opposed to maigre (thin) will be a joy to the elegnace obsessed idolaters of Pinot Noir. They are however, all together a little more rustic thatn the opulent pinots of the Côte d’Or. Justement, Jacques Puffeney describes the third wine, his Pinot Noir, as “rustic” and a poor relation to the wines of the Côte. I felt that as harsh, and coming from me, no natural worshipper of pinot, that is praise indeed.
And then the whites; we started with the -Arbois Savagnin, vinified partially sous voile (veil/ flor). It is in fact a precocious tirage of Vin Jaune, and the 2014 is certainly showing the early exuberance of youth: less marked by the voile than Macle’s two straight whites, it possesses a searing acidity and a body and structure that will need time to mellow. Five years I reckon, but it will be less shocking to those less enamoured by flor, my wife for starters.
The the new release, Vin Jaune 2009. As I expected, these are totally different animals to Macle’s Chateau Chalon, and show more vividly the weight and mass that I have always associated with Vin Jaune. This is not to malign them. I think Macle’s Chateau Chaolon is a unique interpretation, specific to its terroir and, probably, design. Here the flor aged Savagnin is forceful, flavour laden and direct. It is an expression of power and direction. Good to go now, but great for years to come.
Jean Macle, un bougre gentil. The man, his tractor, a dog.
And there we ended it, a charming half hour, although Jacques Macle is not one for long speeches. He is though a fan of Manzanilla, Sanlucar de Barrimeda and tapas. It was very kind of him to receive me like that, à l’improviste.
I left with a half case of each and three Chateau Chalon. I shall be keeping a quota for my self.