WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

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WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

Postby Tim York » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:32 am

Côtes du Jura Savagnin 1997 – Clos des Grives, Claude Charbonnier (Alc.13%) – Vin à base de raisins issus de l’agriculture biologique. Contrôle Ecocert. F32600 Lot no.9

I had forgotten these bottles which I had bought as representatives of the traditionally oxidative style from the sommelier at the admirable Jeunet restaurant in Arbois. When looking for something to pair with a difficultly smoky and salty smoked salmon steak , I stumbled across this wine and only noticed its organic credentials when I opened it.

C: Deepening yellow
N: A bit reminiscent of a Puffeney vin jaune with a distinctly sherry like edge and touches of boiling cabbage (but less than the Puffeney) which, with a conventional wine, might be enough to get it poured down the sink.
P: As with the Puffeney, everything came right on the palate. Bright, crisp, tangy, very mineral (oops!! sorry Sue) and refreshing but with a certain roundness and a silky texture, which distinguish it from the steelier dry fino sherry together with less salty bitterness on the finish; mouth-filling and long and perfect with the smoked salmon steak; 16.5/20+++.

The thing that I ask myself is whether there is anything in the character of this wine which distinguishes it as organic; if there is, I frankly can’t detect it. That may be due here to a lack of experience with Jura Savagnin. However I know Vouvray better and I also doubt whether I can isolate any difference due to agricultural technique between the equally admirable Vouvrays of the biodynamic Huet and conventional Foreau.

RVf had an article about a year ago about organic wine. I will search for it and pass on any interesting observations particularly in relation to my above question.
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Re: WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:37 pm

Great post here Tim. I hope this wine note gets noted by the folks here, there is much to learn about Jura. The lads over the water are really into your post!
"Oxidative" style puzzles me? Bonterra reviews have never mentioned this so I am intrigued to learn more. Where is Hoke when you need him?
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Re: WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

Postby Hoke » Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:56 pm

Bob, don't want to speak for Tim, but when he cites an oxidative style, I believe he's referring to the traditional style of Jura, not of organic wine per se.

And he doesn't cite Bonterra anywhere that I can see in the post...are you confusing the other recent post that did cite Bonterra?
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Re: WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:04 pm

Hoke thanks. There seems to be an opinion out here that some organic whites might have an oxidative style? I was asking if that was your opinion regarding your connection with Bonterra? I am not trying to hijack Tims post !!
(I see you have just posted some relevant thoughts on the Bonterra note).
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Re: WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

Postby Hoke » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:23 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Hoke thanks. There seems to be an opinion out here that some organic whites might have an oxidative style? I was asking if that was your opinion regarding your connection with Bonterra? I am not trying to hijack Tims post !!


Oh, okay, Bob.

Well made wine from organically grown grapes need not be any more or less oxidative than those from grapes not organically grown.

Well made wine from organically grown grapes WHERE THERE IS A CONSCIOUS DECISION NOT TO USE SULFUR IN THE GROWING OR WINEMAKING PROCESS, may or may not show oxidative style. Poorly made wine without sulfur controls--or some other way of controlling fungus and bacteria and such---will almost always show as oxidative, because there's no effective and consistent way to protect the wine from those effects.

Bonterra was referenced earlier: Bonterra has never claimed to make organic wines. Bonterra grows their grapes organically (and biodynamically), but they do not resist using sulfur as needed. Bonterra is naturally low in sulfur/sulfites because they are careful in their use, but the winemakers have never avoided sulfur if needed. They do not conflate "organic" with use of sulfur. That's another issue.

The one and only wine that Bonterra ever produced, that I know of, that has shown adverse effects was their first release of Sauvignon Blanc----and that wine, after about a year, started showing some reductive qualities because it had been made in a totally anaerobic style, been stored anaerobically, and had been bottled under totally impenetrable screwcap closures. But that was reduction, it was light, and it was corrected by the second vintage release.

So, again, if organic/biodynamic wines are showing oxidation: that is primarily the result of a decision made by the winemaker to produce it in a style which shows oxidation.
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Re: WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:39 pm

Thanks very much Hoke. I have learnt so much this past half hour, lets hope in my old age I remember it.
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Re: WTN: Jura Savagnin. What has organic culture contributed?

Postby Tim York » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:09 pm

Hoke wrote:Bob, don't want to speak for Tim, but when he cites an oxidative style, I believe he's referring to the traditional style of Jura, not of organic wine per se.



Correct.

Hoke wrote:
Well made wine from organically grown grapes need not be any more or less oxidative than those from grapes not organically grown.

Bonterra was referenced earlier: Bonterra has never claimed to make organic wines. Bonterra grows their grapes organically (and biodynamically), but they do not resist using sulfur as needed.

So, again, if organic/biodynamic wines are showing oxidation: that is primarily the result of a decision made by the winemaker to produce it in a style which shows oxidation.


My guess from the wording on the label is that, in the case of this Jura Savagnin, the grapes were grown organically but that would not necessarily prevent subsequent treatments as deemed desirable by the vigneron. However I am ignorant of the French Ecocert requirements in 1997.

I am equally ignorant of the techniques used to produce this mildly and very appealingly oxidative result (I don't think there was "flor" or "voile" which is reserved, I believe, for vin jaune) but I am sure that it was intentional as in the case of most other non-organic Jura Savagnins and Chardonnays at the time.
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