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"That Useful Wine Site"
The Savagnin Grape

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About Savagnin

(Synonyms, keeping in mind the confusion over other, related types: Auvernat blanc, Bon blanc, Forment, Formentin blanc, Fraentsch, Fromenteau, Gentil blanc, Gruenedel, Heida, Païen, Princ Bily, Printsch Grau, Ryvola Bila, Schleitheimer, Servoyen blanc, Traminer D'Ore, Traminer Weiss; many more exist that may or may not refer to actual Savagnin.)

Background

Savagnin grapes Map showing the Jura region of France

The story of Savagnin the grape, and of the many various sorts of wines made from it, is an epic, or perhaps a saga—certainly a long and winding tale. Have a little patience with this one. The complexities arise because we are at the intersection of a complex grape history and a collection of complex and unusual winemaking techniques. Let's start with the grape.

Once upon a time, long, long ago in a land far across the sea, there lived a grape. The grape was called Traminer, and it was a good, respected grape. Now grapes spin off mutations with remarkable facility, and in time Traminer generated an offspring called Red (or Rose) Traminer, and another called Yellow Traminer (the original, to distinguish, being Green Traminer). Later, Red Traminer spun off a variant that was quite a bit different from its forebears, being notably powerful in aromas and flavors, and this was generally called "perfumed Traminer" and other names of the sort; in time, it came to be generally known as "Gewurztraminer".

Meanwhile, however, its grandparent, the original Traminer, though almost universally displaced in its homelands by the new Gewurztraminer (which in the original had no umlaut over the u), had migrated, in that way grapes have, from the Tyrol to a small region of France tucked between Burgundy and the French-Swiss border, a region called the Jura. It had, in fact, reached the Jura by at least as early as the 1300s; and in that region, it was given a new name, Savagnin. Yes, Savagnin is simply that old-timer, Traminer, in a new home under a new name. (This glosses over many complications in names and claims, such as Alsace's Klevener, and German winemakers' refusal to distinguish between Red Traminer, Gewürztraminer, and Savagnin.) Incidentally, to add to the fun, Savagnin is not infrequently also called "Savagnin Blanc"; worse, it is also often called "Naturé", which is also a term sometimes used for ouillé wines (patience, patience), so a Naturé might not be Naturé the grape, but Chardonnay made oiullé. Enjoy.

(Jancis Robinson has dubbed Savagnin a "founder grape", because it seems to be the source grape for not only Gewurztraminer, but, through various crosses and mutations, such modern powerhouses as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Verdelho, Petit Manseng, and possibly even Viognier.)

The Jura is not only home to a small family of grape types virtually unknown elsewhere (Savagnin, Poulsard, Trousseau), but also to wine-making techniques all its own. To understand their distinctiveness, we need to look at what is usually considered a minor detail of wine-making, the handling of ullage, the air space that develops in wine barrels as the stored wine slowly evaporates away through the barrel sides. Wine that is left in contact with air for any length of time undergoes the chemical process called oxidation, which is essentially the same process as rusting or burning; oxidation dramatically changes the nature of wine in a way considered highly undesireable, and anyone who drinks wine frequently will have encountered the occasional undrinkable bottle of oxidized wine (usually from defective corkage). In winemaking, the development of barrel ullage is typically obviated by the simple process of occasionally topping up the barrel, to keep it dead full (or close to it), minimizing that air contact.

But sometimes winemakers allow controlled amounts of oxidation to produce a wanted specific result; the most notable example is sherry, oxidized wine (usually of the very bland Palomino grape). Another equally distinctive example is the Jura's vin jaune, which is oxidative wine from the Savagnin grape.

Vin Jaune differs from sherry in two notable ways: first, it is not fortified—the resultant wine is a true table wine, at least as far as alcohol content goes; and second, there is no equivalent of sherry's solera system, which blends various vintages in a staged manner. A given vin jaune is entirely one year's vintage. The details of making vin jaune are too lengthy to treat here, but the link in this sentence will take you to the Wikipedia article on it.

The essential point about Jura white-wine-making is that there are two approaches: ouillé and sous-voile. Ouillé (obviously cognate to ullage) is wine made in the way everyone else does it: with the ullage topped off to avoid oxidation; sous-voile ("with veil", referring to the "veil" of yeasts that float on the developing wine, analogous to the "flor" of sherry) is wine made in the special Jura manner. (In the Arbois apellation, they use "Naturé" on the label instead of Ouillé; lacking one of those two terms, a Jura wine designated "Savagnin" will be sous-voile.) Incidentally, "ouillé" wines are sometimes also described as "ouch" (pronounced OOSH), just to keep the wheel of confusion spinning.

There are Jura wines that are sort of half-way wines: they started out on the way to being full-blown sous-voile vin jaune, but something along the way went amiss, while yet yielding a palatable wine—just one that hasn't gone the full 6 years and 3 months required to legally qualify as vin jaune. These half-way wines (sometimes blended with some chardonnay) have various designations, with Naturé du Jura being one common one. It is wise indeed for the potential buyer of a French "Savagnin" to know whether it was made wholly ouillé or at least partly sous-voile. Both sorts can be excellent wines, but they are dramatically different experiences.

Also, there is the not uncommon phenomenon of people tasting fully oiullé Savagnin detecting what seem to be oxidized tastes. Perhaps its the old barrels in which it is aged, or perhaps it's just psychological, but it does happen.

Savagnin is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class white-wine grapes (those in boldface in the varietals list to the left of the page). Whether that reckoning derives wholly from vin jaune is hard to say, but from comments on ouillé Savagnins, the answer probably should be "No", it's not just vin jaune. Regrettably, however, potential consumers looking for Jura wines from the Savagnin grape will soon discover something. The demand, by world standards, may be quite small; but the supply is even smaller. Thus, there are no "value" vin jaunes. The very least expensive bottles start out around $45 or $50 (even a stubby 620 milliliter "clavelin", the distinctive Jura vin jaune bottle, is little if any less expensive). And the various "half-breed" partly oxidative versions aren't much less costly. It is only with a small subset of the few specimens of fully ouillé Savagnins that one can find any within this site's arbitrary $20 price ceiling. (Those are "few" because any Jura winemaker doing any ouillé Savagnins at all is considered an oddity.)

And here the twisty, turny tale of Savagnin takes yet another lurch. A few years ago, winemakers in Australia thought to try adding the Spanish variety Albariño to their growing arsenal, and they imported some vines through their central national wine-control authority. After clearance (to verify no viruses), the vines were planted and were produing some very satisfactory Albariños getting serious attention. Except that they weren't, after all, Albariños. A visiting French expert took a look, submitted the vines to DNA testing, and discovered that all the Australians were in fact growing Savagnin— a classification error had been made by the European source providing the original cuttings.

Naturally, the Australians had to step hard on the brakes and pull a sharp right turn. They had to reinvest in new labels, new advertising, the whole complex ball of wax. And instead of a wine that is well-known on the international scene and of rapidly rising popularity, they had this singular, very little-known type with a name that 96.27% of consumers were bound to mistake for "Sauvignon", a wine popular in Australia and nothing like what Savagnin makes.

(The redoubtable Archie Goodwin once remarked that there are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up; the 96.27% is of that second sort, but arguably close to correct.)

Well, they did it. And here is another of those little wine miracles: Australian Savagnin is really taking off. They had an earlier chance with Verdelho, but couldn't coordinate their marketing; this time, they seem to have taken the lesson, and are intelligently marketing their new discovery, Savagnin. One writer has noted that if the burgeoning Chinese wine market can be pursuaded away from their current huge (and, with respect to their cuisine, inappropriate) fancy for reds, Savagnin could become a worldwide big-ticket varietal sometime soon.

Now, finally, to the wines themselves. We will skip over discussion of vin jaune and its close cousins in the oxidative class; they are, by reputation, acquired tastes, but tastes that once acquired are often near-fanatic. If you can afford some, you should try a few. But here, we will deal with Savagnin as made in the ordinary way into a white table wine. (That also excludes the popular sparkling "Cremant de Jura" wines and the various Savaginin-derived dessert wines.)

The taste of non-oxidative Savagnin wines is variously described, but its essence seems to be tropical fruit strongly balanced by a citrusy lemon streak, and—repeated several times—a "savory" quality (which doesn't help much because that's a word with a rather indefinite referent). The wines are generally described as medium-bodied, with good acidity. Recalling the grape's ancestry, we should perhaps give some credence to one reviewer's description of it as "a bit like Riesling but with greater texture".

Savagnin is also produced in Jura's neighbor, Switzerland, where it is known as Heida, or sometimes (names, names!) as Païen. Such wines, like many Swiss wines, seem rarely to leave the country, and the few available in the U.S. are far outside our price range.

Factoid: Vin Jaune seems almost inseparable from the regional cheese specialty, Comté, with which it is universally accepted as the perfect pairing.


Some Descriptions of Savagnin Wines

  • The Amateur Gastronomer

    "Naturé and Ouillé wines show Savagnin in its purest form. They are light, elegant and refreshing, with floral and citrus notes. Think Sauvignon Blanc minus the grassy notes, or a non-oaked Chardonnay. You’ll taste flavors that may include white flowers, honeysuckle, orange, lemon zest, apricot, pear, white peach, white grapefruit and anise."

  • Wink Lorch, "Jura Wine, Food and Travel"

    "I have loved many producers' Savagnin Ouillé wines since I first tasted them around 10 years ago as they show the true flavours of this fascinating grape – in particular a vivid lemon character, but also floral, and often the mineral character that is so typical of Jura, I find can be really harnessed in Savagnin Ouillé."

  • "Savagnin: The Next Big Thing?", Great Wine News

    "Whilst the style and quality of these Savagnin varies, the underlying varietal character and flavor of this grape variety has been there in every wine I have tried so far. . . The really interesting and encouraging thing is that to date every single white wine drinker with whom I have tried Savagnin, has liked the variety because of its character and depth of flavor. I have heard it described as 'a bit like Riesling but with greater texture', which I think is very apt."

  • "A Jurrasic mystery", Wine Pages

    "With these new styles, we are finally discovering what the grape tastes like with an almost lemon peel character and potentially raging acidity, that can be perfectly balanced as long as the grapes are picked fully ripe."

  • Lewin on Wine

    "It’s quite savory at first impression, with the aromatics showing slightly after. Savory suggestions extend to texture as well as flavor. It’s hard to disentangle savory and aromatic influences on the finish."

  • Fringe Wine

    "In the glass, the wine was a medium gold color with a very aromatic nose of peaches and apricots, honey, melon, honeysuckle and flowers. On the palate, the wine was medium bodied with high acidity and flavors of lemon, grapefruit, honeysuckle, apricot, ripe apples, creamy citrus and a touch of nuttiness. The wine was wonderfully balanced as the creamy mouthfeel was grounded very nicely with a solid, nervy vein of acidity which can be distractingly high as the wine warms towards room temperature. The flavors and aromas were complex and well-integrated."

  • "Around Arbois", Wine Travel Guides

    "These wines are worth seeking out, very food friendly with lovely fresh lemony flavours - they may have been oak aged or not, and sold from 1–4 years old."

  • Delhi Wine Club

    "Despite viticultural & winemaking differences in the way the various wines were made across the country, the tasting demonstrated that with the exception of one example . . which was a late picked style, the other wines had in common an underlying varietal characteristic. They were medium to full bodied, mouth filling, zesty with crisp fruit, good acidity and an almost savoury finish."


Some Savagnins to Try

(About this list.)

Excepting the plainly labelled Australian Savagnins, it is often hard to discover exactly what a given Savagnin-based wine is. Vin Jaune proper is easy, but for the others, there is a plethora of labellings. "Ouillé" is fairly clear, but not all ouillé wines are so designated; also, some blends with Chardonnay are hard to distinguish. Or if one looks for "Traminer", the great majority of wines so designated are not in fact Traminer but Gewurztraminer stubbornly mis-labelled (usually by German winemakers, but also by Hungarians and Italians). When out hunting on your own, more than ever keep caveat emprot in mind. The list below comprises three Jura ouillé Savagnins (all near our upper price limit) and three reasonably available Australian examples.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Jean Rijckaert Cotes du Jura "les Sarres" Savagnin, $18 - $34.
    (France, Jura)

    Some quotations and facts:

    We cracked a bottle of Rijckaert on Sunday – impressive, elegant, rich round golden honeyed precise minerally focused splendor – this is not a forgettable beachy white, rather was ideal for a snowy post-hike Sunday lunch – my hiking pals who prefer nebbiolo above-all were in bliss. I chose Rijckaert's magnificent Savagnin – which has luscious fruit and acidity. As we all were on Sunday, you will be very pleased.

    The selection of wines for the London Olympics includes a Côtes du Jura Savagnin Les Sarres 2007 from the excellent producer Jean Rijckaert, based in Burgundy but owning vines in Jura. Although I haven’t tasted this vintage, I have tasted previous Savagnins from Rijckaert and it’s important to note that it is a Savagnin ouillé – meaning topped-up non-oxidative Savagnin. It is likely to taste dry, full, with lovely lemony and mineral freshness to balance. How lucky are the corporate visitors who manage to drink this whilst watching a great sporting event.

    ♣ Passion Jura (a tasting of Jura wines, 2012): 1 of 3 wines designated "BEST -- Four Stars" (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms).

    Fresh nose dominated by yellow fruit aromas (pineapple, lemon). Vibrant fruit and acidity, rounded by a honey note, mark the palate. Pink grapefruit and mineral flavours mark the long finish. (Buy again? Yes.)

    Spicy, somewhat oaky, nutty, slightly oxidised notes (direction of dry sherry, but not nearly there), fresh acidity, very gripping and original.

    Rich and interesting, this white was full of tropical fruit and toasty notes, and was my favourite from the evening event at Chez Victoire.

    Terrific Savagnin. Medium straw core with transparent rim. Interesting nose that started with endives and walnut to evolve to hazelnut and a light mix of caramel and vanilla. Med-body, high acidity, it needs quite some time to really opens up. Lemony acidity and a hint of oxidation. Not a lot of fruit (some apricot maybe) in this wine but interesting and complex flavors. Pair it with the right food otherwise you'll miss a lot about this wine. (90 pts.)

    Fresh lemony nose is very clean and modern, with crisp, clean fruit on the palate. Attractive stuff. Very good.

    [Google-translated from French:] The dress is here clearer, drawing closer to the green. The nose is very beautiful, complex desire with much fruit (mainly citric), floral print and a latent wood. If the acidity is present, especially on the attack, the watchword here first "balance", with fruit (very chardonnay) and a buttery caramel interesting side. The finish is beautiful, charming, pretty oily with lots of fruit, again. 15.5 / 20


  • Rolet Pere et Fils Arbois Naturé, $18 - $23.
    (France, Jura; do not confuse this with their "Tradition" chardonnay/savagnan blend)

    Some quotations and facts:

    In the glass, the wine was a medium gold color with nutty aromatics of pine nuts and hazelnuts. There was a touch of appley fruit and a kind of a buttered popcorn kind of smell to it. On the palate, the wine was on the fuller side of medium with fairly high acidity. There were flavors of pine nuts, sesame seeds, dried apples and again that buttered popcorn flavor. The wine was savory and incredibly interesting. It was just screaming out for some nutty salty cheese and since I didn't have any Comté cheese, a specialty of the Jura, I made do with some Parmigiano-Reggiano slivers that really hit the spot.

    Rich, brazil nutty, slightly waxy, it hit the familiar Jura pleasure points quite forcefully, demonstrating more personality than I tend to associate with Rolet, who with 61ha of vineyard holdings are the second largest producer in the Jura. I soon found it a little weighty and savoury for daylight hours.

    These are a great "entry" into Jura white wines, they have the region’s characteristic brininess and full body, but won’t shock a novice palate. The price points are also extremely attractive.

    This Savagnin is modern in style but unique nonetheless with lifted aromas of citrus fruit, roasted spices and oak. It's dry, medium bodied with a savoury flavour profile of dried herbs and lemony fruit flavours, as well as touches of minerality balanced by crisp acidity and leading to a long, spicy finish.


  • Domaine Tissot Arbois Traminer, $16 - $27.
    (France, Jura)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Rich, broad, classy grape and lychee nose is melony and broad. This leads to a plump, rich palate which is clean and fresh, and shows low acidity. Dry but exuberantly fruity. Very good/excellent 90/100

    It is a lovely gold colour that invites you in, the aromas of white stone fruits and creamy / cheese (implies lees contact) also make you want to go further! It is dry, lemon, apple and spice are the first flavours that hit you, then waves of oak and cheese, the length is good with an apple mineral finish.

    It shines in the glass with a light golden colour and the nose appears very aromatic of spices and at the same time full of juicy fruit. The spice doesn’t mean it smells like a kitschy Gewürztraminer, no rose scent here, but rather like a wine with a nose de caractère, as the French like to say. Some vanilla, pear and green apples are the aromatic analogies coming to my mind. On the palate it covers all your taste buds and demonstrates that it is a real mouth-filler. Taste-wise the aromas from the nose are lingering on in the mouth with pear, vanilla and the obligatory spice notes. The wine shows a good presence and a satisfying length. Very inspiring. Boy that is good stuff and a nice change from Riesling or other varietals for me. Plus at 15 Euro, a good price-quality ratio.

    [Google-translated from French:] It is therefore the expression of the non-oxidative Savagnin version expresses notes of citrus, salty peanut, salinity but no notes of nuts, or sotolon in this wine. The palate is firm with a nice acidity and a beautiful salinity.

    It’s quite savory at first impression, with the aromatics showing slightly after. Savory suggestions extend to texture as well as flavor. It’s hard to disentangle savory and aromatic influences on the finish. Lots of character here. 88

    Sure, it wasn't overly special, but it was a nice wine offering out a confit lemon and pork fat aroma with some spice and a little lemon and lime pith on the nose. The palate had a touch of spice, some alcohol coming out, with lots of grapefruit pith, a little white pepper and grapefruit. 82pts

    Grade=Outstanding. A bit of leesy notes amidst yellow apple, daikon and chalk. This is a very cool white wine, crisp and lean, yet with a hint of oatmeal and d’Anjou pear.

    Pale lemon yellow. Fresh nose of minerals, spice and herb flowers. Dry but rich and intensely white fruity with bracing acidity and a bitter almond finish. A bit simple, perhaps, but appealing in its vibrant purity.


  • Gemtree Vineyards "Moonstone" Savagnin, $12 - $14.
    (Australia)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Biodynamically produced and partially fermented in oak (20%), Gemtree's 2009 Savagnin presents a clean and clear, fresh fragrance of green nashi pear and melons with a minor suggestion of crushed nuts adding savoury interest. Surprisingly weighty and textured, its rather viscous palate pushes through very clean yet fat, gris-like crunchy pear flavours, with an extensive finish drawn out by tangy/lemony citric acids and a wonderfully even persistence of flavour. The 2009 Moonstone is a well judged savagnin, with its clean varietal fruit base enhanced by great length and winemaker induced textural elements. 89 points

    An ever so slight yellow tinge in the glass, the nose shows citrus blossom as well as ripe nectarine and peach characters. The palate has considerable fruit weight, with a line of citrus like acidity that complements apple and sour edged stone fruits; on the finish there is a slight honeyed character that will continue to evolve over the short term. 91 points (4½*)

    [S]avagnin makes excellent, easy-drinking wines like this. This Gemtree white has an alluring, almost ethereal floral bouquet and vibrant fruity flavours that are dry, tangy and zesty. . . The Gemtree is one of those ranked in the Quaff 2011's Top 20 wines of the year. Rating: Bloody Good

    Lovely lemon blossom aromas and verging on that first note of sweet fruit to make it really juicy and very drinkable with an extra zing. A fun warm weather white. Rating: **** / 4 out of 5 stars - a cut above. Value: Terrific

    There's citrus & tropical fruit on the nose & palate of this McLaren Vale white, with a zippy acid finish. It's tasty by itself or would go well with fresh seafood. 90 points

    Aromatically this Savagnin has a lot going on. Lanolin, peach with mouthwatering minerality. It has a smooth, plush Old World mouthfeel with a line of apple and peach pushing all the way through to a delightful finish.

    This is an intriguing wine that the winery made "naturally", with indigenous yeasts, no additions and no filtration. It’s slightly musky and nutty at the same time, with a slightly creamy note to the pineapple-like fruit. It’s medium-bodied, at 12.5% abv, round in the mouth, yet crisp and slightly chalky on the finish. 87 points.


  • Zonte's Footstep "The Love Symbol" Savagnin Blanc, $16 - $21.
    (Australia)

    Some quotations and facts:

    This Langhorne Creek wine is straw-hued and has toffee apple scents. Lychee flavour shows on the front palate and stewed quince and musk characters join in on the middle palate. Soft flinty acid shows at the finish. 4 Glasses out of 5.

    ♣ James Halliday's Wine Companion (2013), 89 points

    ♣ Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition (2013), Gold medal

    Really vibrant nose of peach and other tropical fruits, mango slices and tangerine. The texture is key, it starts a little unctuous but delivers a swathe of tropicality and a sweetness that I find a bit much. There’s a hint of spice on the finish but it’s all there in terms of a consumer friendly white.

    Lovely, crisp, clean wine with a beautifully lifted floral nose and zesty citrus palate.

    [i]t’s a lean, crisp white, with hints of pencil shavings that accent its grapefruity flavors. It’s pretty, harmonious and a good all-around white for drinking over the next 6–9 months. 87 points

    Grade=Very Good. Crisp, clean green apple and lime notes with undertones of melon, herbs, mineral and Asian pear.

    The flavour: A bit sweet and sour, apple-sauce like, but with enough nice textural minerality that gives this riple little dude some interest. Value: Ok. Verdict: Try it and see.


  • Tscharke "Girl Talk" Savagnin, $19 - $21.
    (Australia)
         ($20.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    A very pale gold wine in the glass, it had a pronounced nose: loads of stone fruit (particularly, I think, apricot), backed up with floral, chalky and citrus notes. Very very appealing. On the palate there was a big lemon/lime hit along with a ton of stone fruit (peach, this time). There was some good acidity, the length was not bad – accompanied by some flavour development, and the wine wrapped up with a slightly nutty, oily finish. Andy’s comment that the wine was refreshing and "pretty nice". "Pretty nice" is usually as effusive as he gets – so take that as a recommendation. At the $20 [Australian] price point I’d be more than happy to drink this wine again.

    A great 2011 savagnin here, showing ripe lemon and stone fruits on the nose - really pure and quite concentrated, and the ripeness seems spot-on. The palate's smooth and juicy, also delivering lemon citrus and white peach. A really bright, juicy and utterly drinkable dry white. This is a standout! Rating: 93

    As to this wine, in the glass it is clear and bright, with pale lemon green colour and a viscosity on the inside of the glass when swirled that can’t make up it’s mind if it’s a film or legs. On the nose it’s clean with medium minus intensity, and notes of pear, custard, and a little bit of green vegetable. On the palate it’s dry, with medium plus acidity, medium plus intensity, medium body, medium alcohol, and medium minus length. There is apple zing, with both green apple acidity and a bit of red apple sweetness, as well as some lemon-lime and bitters, and a hint of waxiness on the finish. This is a good wine. The palate is a bit low on complexity, and the finish is slightly short, but it’s an interesting wine for those of us who like alternative varieties. The fruitiness is attractive, and it certainly hits the numbers in terms of acidity and intensity on the palate.

    [T]his is one of the best of a great bunch of producers, showing seductive lemon, guava and custard apple aromas with the flavour of crisp apples. Rating: **** / 4 out of 5 stars - a cut above. Value: Great.

    The wine is full flavoured, but very clean. Flavours are predominantly pear, almond and citrus. The wine has acidity, but there is also some sweetness.

    Finally, I judged one of he "other white" classes and came up with by far the best Savagnin I have tasted: the '11 Tscharke Girl Talk (Barossa), full of flavour and with excellent texture. This variety is here to stay.

    As cooler areas inexorably dominate production of the crisp, zesty white styles demanded by consumers, some winemakers in warmer areas like the Barossa seek white varieties that make appealing wine in these warm, dry conditions. Damien Tscharke pioneered the Spanish variety, albarino, only to find it was savagnin. Whatever it’s called, though, the variety produces a soft, juicy and smooth textured dry white with a pleasant savouriness setting it apart from, say, sauvignon blanc or chardonnay. For the first time in the very good 2012 vintage, Tscharke fermented a small proportion of the wine in older oak – boosting the wine’s texture.

    I detected aromas of pear skin, an oily butteriness and a whiff of lemon curd. The palate was quite interesting as it was coated beautifully. There was some complexity and minerality along with depth, but apart from some stone fruit type flavours, nothing really jumped out. A good drink nonetheless without the glitter. It's got more guts than some whites out there and the finish lurks well. Backing up for another sip isn't a hard ask. It will cellar for a few years I'd suggest and I'd be interested to see what it morphs into with some bottle age.

    [T]his 2011 release is a cracker. This should be on your buying radar. The price, the flavour, the quality - it ticks all the right boxes. It tastes of honeysuckle and brine, citrus and spice. It has a sweet perfume to it, but finishes dry and long. It will become an even better drink over the next six months. Great intensity, great length, more than enough complexity - you can't ask for much more from a young white. Rating: 93


For a Splurge

Vin Jaune in Clavelin with Comte cheese and walnuts Pretty obviously, the splurge here—and it'll be quite a splurge—is a real vin jaune (and don't forget to obtain a goodly chunk of Comté cheese to have with it). It's hard to recommend a particular one, but whatever you look at, be sure you know how much you're buying: vin jaune can be sold in bottles from 375 ml to 500 ml to the classic 620-ml "Clavelin" bottle (shown at left), up to the more usual 750-ml bottle. It makes quite a difference in the per-ml price.

A clavelin of Jacques Puffeney will run about $80 to $90; for Michel Gahier, it's about $75 to $90; or, for Rolet (the lowest-cost vin jaune we saw), it's "only" around $50 to $55. There are quite a few others (well over a dozen total) available in the U.S., all falling in around that price range (or above, some well over $100).

Beware also of vintage date: many vin jaunes are still young, arguably too young, at a decade out from vintage year. It would be a shame to splurge on a wine considered by experts too young to show its nature properly.



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