Several months back, we took a deep dive into the seriously unique whites from the Jura region of Eastern France. Though the region has always been best known for its whites, the quality–and popularity–of the reds have never been better. Jason likes to describe the Jura as ‘Burgundy’s Twilight Zone,’ and that’s especially true for the reds. Though you’ll find a lot of Pinot Noir, the expression is staggeringly different. And, of course, when it comes to the regions two native varieties, things can get weird, quickly.
This month we’ll take a look at two classic interpretations of these native varieties, Poulsard and Trousseau, from two of our favorite producers in the region. Domaine Pêcheur in the heart of the Côtes du Jura is truly one of the region’s most under-the-radar producers. Winemaker Christian Pêcheur, like many from the Jura, attended winemaking school in Burgundy, only to return home to the family estate upon graduation. Vines are managed in traditional fashion, with no herbicides or insecticides being used, although they are not seeking organic certification. Christian’s reds are all planted to a particularly unique soil type, red marlstone. Vinifications occur spontaneously and, as is often the case in the region, the reds are all given ample time in barrel with no rush to get them into bottle.
Though native to the Jura, Trousseau–unlike Poulsard–has seen some success outside the region. Vine material made its way into Spain and Portugal over the last few centuries, where it took root and flourished. Known as Bastardo in Portugal and Merenzao or Verdejo Negro in Spain, Trousseau tends to give ripe, dark fruited wines with considerable body relative to Pinot Noir and Poulsard. Though they can give very big wines in Spain, the cooler Jura reins things in with more restrained expressions. Still, though, you can expect the best of both worlds in this old-school iteration. You’ll get some dark, ripe red fruits in the glass highlighting spicy notes of black pepper and herbs, yet all is framed with a supremely refreshing finish. With cuisine as rich as that of the Jura, freshness is key. Serve this red lightly chilled, and open it at least an hour ahead of serving, if possible.