Wine often has us headed to blank spots in our mental map of the world — empty areas in our understanding that, previous to this obsession, we never bothered to care about. Take for instance, the Jura, a landscape of green hills that resemble wrinkled fabric emanating from the distant Alps. Even a devoted Francophile traveler might struggle to place it on a map of France (hint: between Dijon and Lake Geneva), but a wine obsessive? That’s another matter, for Savagnin — perhaps the geekiest of French grapes — thrives in the Jura where it is used to make vin jaune, an oxidative wine with sherry-like characteristics that must be aged for 6 years and 3 months before release.
Vin jaune is highly prized stuff. However, just as rare are ouillé Savagnin wines, such as this one from Domaine de la Borde. Meaning “topped up,” ouillé wines of Savagnin are simply made reductively (in other words, oxygen exposure is minimized). What makes Savagnin successful at handling oxygen exposure in vin jaune is its piercing acidity, but that same attribute can make reductive Savagnin an acquired taste. I’ve had some of these wines over the years, but have hesitated to write about them for fear of liability. The last thing this writer needs is a lawsuit from someone who lost their tooth enamel due to one of my recommendations.
All kidding aside, Domaine de la Borde’s “Naturé Foudre a Canon” is another matter. It drinks like a Chardonnay with sinew. The apple-like fruit, the herbal tones, the sensation of honeycomb — all of those Chardonnay traits that I’ve come to adore for their caressing qualities, they are all here. But what else is on display with this Savagnin is something else entirely. It shows up on the palate: an indestructible, tightly wound fabric that says to me it could cellar for 20 more years. Or just be enjoyed (devoured, really) in a single evening.
I suspect that the long lees aging (12 months) employed by winemaker Julien Mareschal may be the culprit for this wine’s incredible balance. It is not often that you find a white wine seemingly made of steel and velvet, but that’s exactly what we have here.
2015 Domaine de la Borde “Naturé Foudre a Canon” Savagnin Arbois Pupillin
Arbois Pupillin AOC (Jura)
Grapes: Savagnin (100%)
Opinion: ★★★★★ (out of five)
• Food-friendliness: Versatile
• Value: As expected
A beginner might like … The tea-like quality of the aromas, which also carry through to the palate. When I am reminded of tea on a white wine, it makes me nostalgic, thinking of cold winters as a kid drinking chamomile. The tea-like tones give this sinewy white wine a softness that frankly, other ouillé Savagnin I’ve encountered lack.
A wine obsessive might like … The structure of this wine. Wine obsessives know a long-haul wine when they taste it, and this wine could go for many more years if you desire.
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