For tasters accustomed to descending into cold damp cellars, and to seeing barrels topped up each day to minimize oxygen, it can be jarring to visit the Jura. There one ascends to the attic (warmer there) and finds a generous airspace at the top of the barrels aging wine. What is more, there is a layer of mold floating on the top of the wine. But all is well — this is Savagnin, and the floating veil (voile) protects the wine as it matures. The oxidized wines of the Jura are very different from those of Burgundy just to the west, more resembling a fino sherry than a white Burgundy.
We discovered the Domaine Ligier just a year ago, and were pleased to find a whole range of interesting and different wine there. In addition to the Savignan, there two unique reds. Poulsard is a rare grape now planted on just a few hundred acres in the Jura. Ligier’s Poulsard is a light-bodied, pale red wine best served a bit cool. The fruit aromas recall cherries and rose hips, with a pleasant herbal note. The other red is from Trousseau, which yields wine of a more familiar texture and a nose resembling a rustic Pinot Noir.
In white, Ligier’s Côtes du Jura “Thousand and One Nights” is a blend of Chardonnay and Savagnin, and can be an excellent entry point for this style of wine, mixing Savignin’s robust sherried flavors with a degree of freshness and fruit. And of course, there is Savignin “Les Chassagnes” for the full experience with this very interesting style.