Jurassic Titans

Jurassic Titans

by Garrett Smith

When I think of the Jura, I think of the many winemakers who were also affineurs...you could just smell the Comté in their wines. 

My wine self was reared in the end of the Puffeney era, when you could acquire these prized bottles for what now seems like pennies on the dollar. In his wake, there were a few other tiny producers in the Jura whose work finally had a bit of light shone on it. 

That in and of itself is a conundrum in the region, given that it is one of the smallest winemaking regions in all of France, and largely its producers are, if not reclusive, then humble and readily avoiding fame. Well, we're equipped with a small spotlight, and are ready to illuminate some of these secret gems. 

Check out the full list here or take a little read below! 

Pierre Overnoy

We came to know the wines of Pierre Overnoy in some of the finest French

restaurants - they were the bottles in the corner, gathering dust, but were yet somehow "off limits" per the head Sommelier. Even without researching them, they had already attained mythical status. Do a little bit of reading and you'll discover that Overnoy himself was one of the first to readily make what we call "natural wine" - he eschewed the use of sulfur most of all, and created wines that were bursting at the seams with character. Emmanuel & Anne Houillon run the estate after several years in Pierre's tutelage, and have only served to further improve on his legacy. We have long loved these wines, so elegant and yet simply presented - historically, all the labels are the same; you just identify the cuvée by the color of the wax! The winery routinely holds back releases until they are perfectly ready to drink.


Bruyere Renaud & Houillon Adeline

Another pupil of Overnoy was Adeline Houillon, Emmanuel's sister; along with Renaud Bruyère, a pupil of Stéphane Tissot, created their own label with 4.5 hectares of low-yielding, old-vine Ploussard, Chardonnay and Savagnin. Following in the footsteps of Overnoy, their wines are also "natural", without chemicals, any

unnatural fertilizers, and never any sulfur added. Their labels are much more clear, however, providing plenty of information as to the exact methods of production of each wine. 

The Ploussard undergoes a carbonic maceration in tank, and the juice will remain with the skins to absorb ample color. Chardonnay La Croix Rouge comes from a small vineyard planted to limestone & clay; it's aged in stainless steel, and topped up to prevent oxidation. Nouvelles-Viaduc is a white concocted of 70% Savagnin and 30% Chardonnay from the two vineyards in the cuvée's name. Also produced in a non-oxidative fashion, it's both hugely energetic and dense. Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes is from the oldest vines of the estate, low-yielding and intense. Tourillons comes from 50-year-old vines of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Savagnin planted on limestone, co-fermented. This is a more saline, minerally and energetic example of their style. 

So says Courtney:

"When visiting with Adeline and Renaud a few years ago, I realized the people are just as special as the wines. Humble, warm, and very knowledgable. They make wine in Jura, simply because it is their way of life. We were welcomed into their family home kitchen, opened a few bottles, and spoke about the wine, but truly just enjoyed each other's company as well."


Domaine des Murmures

Emmanuel Lançon of Domaine des Murmures has quickly cultivated a small following after only starting the estate in 2012 after moving from Provence. Much in the same vein as Overnoy and his pupils, the wines are naturally created with an eye to purity and natural concentration. Given the tiny (about 2 hectare) vineyard size, these are even harder to come across. 



Domaine Labet

One of our favorites is Labet - forgive us for having such a wide array as Julien produces small amounts of hand-crafted wines from individual plots that can routinely change based on the vintage. Trained at Domaine Ramonet, Julien has quite the ability with whites but his eye for delicate reds should not be overlooked. Now that he's fully overtaken his family's land, he has a broad palate of soil types and varietals to work with from the vines which are largely 60+ years of age. He will follow all organic methods in the vineyard and avoid sulfur whenever possible. 

Julien's wines will be both traditional and modern (ish) - he creates mostly whites that are topped up and non-oxidative - these are made a la Burgundy, in neutral 228L barrels on the fine lees - but will occasionally release the "vin de voile" style that is more traditional of the Jura, aged in ancient foudres. Reds will be mostly de-stemmed and aged in barrels, except the Trousseau wines which are aged in ancient foudres. 

Check out the Chardonnay du Hasard, one of the styles made under flor ("vin de voile"), from 65+ year old vines; this spends several years in barrel, and the final wine is both nutty and fresh, with candied citrus and a delightful texture.
Métis will vary from year to year in terms of the actual components, but is generally Pinot Noir, Gamay and some indigenous varieties. Fresh, light on its feet and complex, this is routinely a gem. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.