Long ago, sweetness in any form was far rarer than today, and it was prized thusly. In our era of ubiquitous corn syrup, junk food, and soda, it is difficult to imagine a world in which sugar was special, and the overall difficulty in selling sweet wines across all markets testifies to that. Still, sweetness in wine—real wine whose sweetness has not been coerced—remains one of nature’s rare gifts. Producing sweet wines requires a grower to be courageous, as she must wait to harvest and risk late-season vagaries of weather, or, in passito-style wines, assume the risk of air-drying fruit for upwards of half a year in her cellar. Sweet wine production requires prodigious effort for feeble yields, which generally then take longer to produce and longer to sell than their dry counterparts.
… A hunched figure, barely visible in the twilight, barred the great subterranean cellar’s modest entrance. Ragged and weary from their journey, the five sommeliers looked at one another with surprise; the old book had mentioned nothing of a gatekeeper. They had followed the map with great care, the promise of long-buried vinous spoils, theirs for the taking, having sustained them through the endless Krug-less days—but it seemed a final challenge awaited. The sentinel scowled at them from beneath his large hood.
The Jura’s meteoric rise among American wine drinkers over the past decade has been well documented, but the wines from the tiny appellation of L’Étoile remain somewhat less known. Perhaps that’s due to its comparatively diminutive size, or perhaps to its lack of appellation-status red wines—much initial fervor over the Jura in the US was driven by the region’s light…
Beyond Champagne, excellent bubbly now comes from all over in a diversity of styles. You don’t require a special occasion to enjoy them.
Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura Brut Zéro NV $26.99
The Jura region of France is a reliable source of Champagne-style sparkling wines that are subtly different from Champagne. This one, from the excellent Domaine de Montbourgeau, is a fine example. It’s rich and creamy, yet precise — bone dry and still rounded and lush. In most Champagne-style wines, producers add a dose of sweetness just before sealing the bottle to balance the often searing acidity. But if the wine is balanced without the dosage, as this one is, it can be omitted. Hence the designation, Brut Zéro. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)
The 2013 Crémant du Jura Réserve “Brut Zero” is spellbinding, and the finest example of the category we have ever encountered. Few pitches in sparkling wine sales are as hackneyed as the “Champagne substitute” angle, but in a very few…Read More
Scrambled and sunnysided eggs just gathered an hour or so ago from the chicken coop, sautéed shiitakes in Armato oil with shallots and garlic from last year’s garden and added some Armato oregano and peperoncino, steamed broccoli and Brussels sprouts dressed with Bea “Grezzo” oil … all accompanied by this brilliant Étoile 2016 from Nicole Deriaux’s beautiful Domaine de Montbourgeau. This wine is vivid, vivacious and vibrant, bursting with energy. Sous-voile élevage, no concessions to modernity, honest and true to the grand traditions of the Jura. The salinity obvious in the nose and on the palate references the millennia-old period when this region was ocean rather than terra firma. This wine practically trembles in the mouth with a near static electricity. Fully expressive of its specific terroir, the elegance and cut of Nicole’s wines are on display.
Sunday, Sept 22, 2013 Neal spent the day visiting our producers in the Jura. Here are his notes: “I spent last Sunday (September 22) visiting each of our four producers. The first issue to discuss is “reduction” in certain wines from our producers in the Jura. Of course, we had this problem raise its ugly […]
We are in the midst of a special moment, a quiet dinner at home on the evening before we leave to prospect in the Piedmont and Calabria. The atmosphere is cool, calm and crystalline – listening to Billy Holliday sing and drinking the L’Etoile Cuvee Speciale 2006 from Nicole Deriaux’s Domaine de Montbourgeau, a brief […]