JANUARY DIRT–OVERNOY-CRIQUAND ARBOIS-PUPILLIN POULSARD 2016
When it comes to absolutely legendary winemakers, in the Jura, there is no beating the name Overnoy. Made famous by Pierre, the Overnoy name has long been associated with both excellence and tradition in the Jura, even long before anyone knew anything about the region. Today, Pierre’s wines are as scarce as they come. Enter Domaine Overnoy-Criquand, owned by cousins of Pierre, working with much the same outlook–organic viticulture, hillside vineyards, traditional winemaking. Overnoy Criquand’s vineyards are located in the village of Arbois Pupillin, one of the region’s most cherished terroirs. More specifically, they are on very steep hillsides above the village in the lieu-dit ‘La Bidode.’ The operation is special as they are focused not only on their lovely organic wines, but they also raise cows on the property whose milk is used to make the famous Comté cheese. As a result, the family is able to use their cows’ manure for natural fertilizer.
Poulsard–also known as Ploussard depending on who you’re speaking with–is a peculiar grape indeed. Even when fully ripe, the skin’s color is extremely pale, resulting in red wines that can look like rosé. Indeed, chez Overnoy Criquand, their Poulsard receives the same treatment as the other reds–fermentation in barrel followed by at least 12 months of aging in the same wood. What this wine lacks in color, though, it makes up for and then some in perfume, intensity, and elegance. Rarely ripening above 12.5% alcohol, Poulsard can seem like a cross between great Pinot Noir–floral, perfumed, and concentrated yet light–and Gamay for its tendency toward high acidity and extreme drinkability. It may be light, but it is not a simple ‘glou glou’ wine. There is as much complexity to be found here as in your average bottle of Burgundy. Give this one light chill (or serve at cellar temperature) and give it an hour of air before enjoying with richer fare. Coq au Vin would be an ideal pairing. (Check out New York Times Cooking for an excellent recipe).