Saturday, July 10, 2010

TDF 2010 Stage 7: Tournus to Station des Rousses

I received the following cryptic memo, penned in blood, last night. How the author managed to attach digital photographs I'm still not sure. Through exhaustive research, I was able to attribute this text to none other than Cory Cartwright (Signor Saignée), and the seemingly mystical photographs to Guilhaume Gerard (fka, The Wine Digger). A hearty thank you to them both. Don't forget to follow Cory's 32 Days of Natural Wine (now with even more stages than Le Tour!).

From this chart it appears the riders have a series of impossible 50% and higher grade climbs, followed by whiplash roller coaster style drops. If anyone makes it through this gauntlet alive i would put good money on them winning this whole thing.

i feel sorry for the riders during this stage. Not because there's hills or whatever, i figure they signed up for this act of masochism themselves not out of some desire to win or having to atone for the sins of a past life, but because they won't be able to sample the cuisine of the Jura.

To the south of the course you can clearly see Bourg-en-Bresse, the home of the famed poulet that has its own AOC, and to the north you have the home of comte, the giant cheesewheels that are worth the trip on their own, not to mention the other varieties of sausages and cheeses and so on and so forth. Basically if you like to eat (and i mean serious meat/potatoes/cheese eating, not flavored pop rocks or what the hell ever) this is your kind of place.

And then there is the wine.

The Jura is Terroir Country™. And not the small scale "this hill is turned .000001 degree this way so we charge 400 more dollars than that terroir and if you don't like it talk to that critic or look at this pricing sheet did we mention we're a first growth? thanks again for your business" terroir (although they have some prime sites). This is the all-encompassing terroir of food/wine/people/culture. Sure they grow some pinot noir and chardonnay, which the world knows about, but the grapes most grown are savagnin, trousseau and poulsard, rather extreme examples of "local" grapes. While the world has slowly woken to the oxidized savagnins, the ultralight poulsards, and the more serious trousseaus, and the legendary Vin Jaunes, the local market still rules, with the fortified macvin du Jura and sparkling crémant du Jura.

High on Pupillin.

It's a place where both the beautifully baroque modernism of the French natural wine movement (perhaps exemplified best by Pierre Overnoy and Emmanuel Houillon who make wines of stunning purity from methods partly adopted from Jules Chauvet through his disciple Jacques Neauport) stand side by side with staunch traditionalists such as Michel Gahier and Jacques Puffeney who are getting back to the continuity of Jura winemaking.

Jacques Puffeney

Emmanuel Houillon

When i visited we went to meet a young naturalist vigneron who perhaps exemplifies this push and pull that is making the Jura what i believe to be the most interesting wine region in the world. When we went he was brimming with ideas about wine, he had experiments going of all sorts, and more ideas of experiments he wanted to do than his small winery could possibly hold. But back in one corner was his pride and joy. It wasn't some carbonically macerated poulsard brimming with VA and barely distinguishable from a badly made gamay or grenache that represents the genre for so many these days. It was his first Château-Chalon, that staid, once great vin jaune (it was once listed with Meursault, Coulée de Serrant, Château Grillet and Château d'Yquem as one of the five great wine wine terroirs of France). Its reputation has since slipped, partly due to a change in tastes and partly due to, well, there just aren't any good producers anymore but there are a tiny number of producers trying to take it back. But here he was, in the midst of all this chaos, showing off his connection to hundreds of years of winemaking tradition and beaming over it.

Note: All that was a metaphor for bicycling.

Next up: Into the mountains and up to New York.

1 comment:

Wink Lorch said...

Cory - if it is indeed you, I love who you are talking about in the Jura, but I must be pedantic and make a correction to the Jura facts. Actually, Chardonnay is the most planted variety in the Jura by a long way, and Pinot Noir is the 2nd most planted red after Poulsard.

Chardonnay is used for almost all the Cremant du Jura which offer excellent value for money, and the leave the best quality Chardonnay grapes to make a huge range of different wines from oxidative (such as Montbourgeau in Etoile) to so-called Burgundian styles (such as biodynamic wines from Stephane Tissot in Arbois) to Burgundian/biodynamic/natural such as the weird and wonderful range from Ganevat, whose Pinot Noir you should also try.

All that said, Savagnin and Trousseau are both in my mind world-class grape varieties of incredible versatility and interest. Poulsard/Ploussard is more difficult but occasionally reaches esoteric heights.

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