On the fifth day of Unit 2 in The Intensive Sommelier Training at the International Culinary Center we studied the regions south of Côte d’Or in Burgundy – Chalonnaise, Mâconnais, Beaujolais, Jura and Savoie.
There are two primary texts for this course - The Sommelier Prep Course by Michael Gibson and The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia by Tom Stevenson. I read these books twice before the course began and I am going through them again making notes cards along the way. I am also reading Wine by Andre Domine. It is 887 pages and the book is 8.5x12. It is HUGE. The section on France is over 300 pages!
Students are expected to have completed the required readings and take notes during the 2-hour lecture before we taste any wines. Anything in the required reading or the lecture could be on the Unit Exams or the Final Exam. But, as mentioned in the previous review, during the lecture a list of Learning Objectives is provided “By the end of class, students should be able to…” which helps us get to the nuts of bolts of what we are supposed to be learning and what can be expected at the Certified Sommelier level. But, along the way the instructors (who are all Master Sommeliers) will also give us a hint as to what would be expected at the Advanced and Master levels as well.
I provided background information on Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Beaujolais in the previous post “Unit 2 - Day 3: Burgundy, Chablis andCôte d’Or White Wine” so in this review I’ll only discuss Jura, Savoie, cover the course objectives and review the wines.
Jura is not part of Burgundy but is tucked between Burgundy and Switzerland around Lake Geneva. It has a cool continental climate which means ripeness is at a premium and like Germany and Austria, many vineyards are planted on hillsides and utilize waterways to capture reflected rays from the sun. The top AOC appellation of Jura is Arbois where white wines are made from Chardonnay and red wines from Trousseau (also known as Trousseau Noir or Bastardo in Portugal) and the name is from Old French trusse, meaning “a bundle” which is derived from the shape of the bunch, it looks “packed up”.
They also produce reds and rosé from Poulsard (Plousard) and Pinot Noir. Poulsard is a dark-skinned noir grape, but the skins are very thin with low amounts of color (phenols). Consequently it produces very pale colored red wines, even with extended maceration and can be used to produce white wines. Because of this, Poulsard is often blended with other red-skin varieties or used to produce lightly colored rosé wines. Additionally the grape is used to make blanc de noir white wines and sparkling cremants.
What makes Jura unique is the styles of wines that have developed in the area. The most well-known is vin jaune where late harvest Savagnin grapes are picked, fermented and aged in barrels for 6 years or more. During this time they experience evaporation and yeast develops (similar to Sherries) producing intensely caramelized and nutty wines. This is the only style allowed in the AOC appellation of Château-Chalon, where it is their specialty, but it also produced in all of Jura’s appellations.
Another unique wine is vin de paille which is made from grapes left on mats to dry to concentrate flavors and alcohol before they are fermented. The region also produces the sparkling wine Crémant de Jura.
Savoy is located due east of Burgundy and southeast of Jura. The French Alps dominate the landscape of Savoie so the winemaking regions are dispersed throughout the area and isolated from each other.
Most of the wine produced in Savoie is simply labeled with the AOC Vin de Savoie which covers a lot of grapes and styles. The primary focus is on white wines such as Chasselas (AOC Crépy-en-Valois) and Roussette (Seyssel). The top red grape of the region is Mondeuse which produces lighter spicy wines.
Important regions within Savoie are the Bugey and Roussette du Bugey which were elevated to Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in May 2009. A high proportion of Bugey wine is white from Chardonnay, but rosé, red and sparkling wines are also produced from Gamay and the aromatic white variety Altesse, locally called Roussette. Vineyards of the two Bugey appellations cover around 500 hectares (1,200 acres) spread over 67 communes in the department of Ain.
Learning Objectives of Unit 2 - Day 5: Chalonnaise To Beaujolais
At the beginning of class lectures a list of learning objectives is provided to the students. By the end of the class, the students should have a certain degree of understanding from their own reading and the lectures and be able to provide the answers to list of questions. Learning Objectives for Unit 2 - Day 5 along with the answers are as follows.
By the end of class, students should be able to:
(1) Suggest wines from the AOC of the Chalonnaise
Answer: Brac De La Perrier Bourgogne Cote Chalonnaise
(2) Suggest wines from the well-known AOCs of the Mâconnais
Answer: 2011 Robert Denogent “Les Reisses” Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes
(3) Discuss the character of the red grape of Beaujolais
Answer: Gammay, characteristic fruit aromas are red cherries and strawberries, often with boiled candy (bubble gum) and banana notes.
(4) Describe the production/style difference of Beaujolais Nouveau.
Answer: They use carbonic maceration, where the grapes undergo intracellular fermentation of sugar into alcohol before being crushed, and then standard fermentation. It gives the wine certain aromas like bananas or pear drop.
(5) Propose a Cru Beaujolais to your guest with vintage and producer.
Answer: 2011 Marcel Lapierre - Morgon Cuvee MMXI
(6) State the best soil type of Beaujolais
Answer: Granite based soil called Schist
(7) Explain to your guest the difference between Rully and Reuilly.
Answer: Rully: In Challonais, Burgundy the red wine is Pinot Noir and white wine from Chardonnay. Reuilly: Central Vineyards, Loire Valley. The red wine is Pinot Noir and the white wine is from Sauvignon Blanc.
(8) Explain to your guest the wines of St. Aubin and St. Véran.
Answer: St. Aubin is in Cote de Beaune. St. Veran overlaps Beaujolais and appellation Maconnais.
(9) Describe the attributes of any wine we tasted today.
Answer: See below
On the fifth day of Unit 2 we tasted the following 9 wines:
1. 2011 A. et P. de Villaine Aligoté Bouzeron
Our first was wine was an Aligoté which I had never experienced before so I didn’t have a basis for comparison. If tasted blind it seemed like just a run-of-the-mill white wine with some citrus notes and high acidity.
Aligoté is a white varietal that is made for still or sparkling wine, called Crémant de Bourgogne. In the varietal appellation Bourgogne Aligoté AOC up to 15% Chardonnay grapes may also be blended in. It is also used for making a cocktail kir (also known as vin blanc cassis in French) in which cassis is added to an Aligoté white wine. Aligoté is often planted only in the poorer vineyard sites at the tops and bottoms of the slopes and it is more tolerant to the cold. The grape ripens early with moderate yields and produces wines high in acidity. The village of Bouzeron is considered to represent the region’s finest examples of the variety with the appellation Bouzeron-Aligoté AOC. Aligoté is also used to acidity and structure to other varieties when blended. The grape is often blended with Sacy to complement its acidity
The 2011 A. et P. de Villaine Aligoté Bouzeron is clear, light straw in color, day-bright with medium viscosity. Clean, subtle aromas of lemons, honeysuckle, hints of almonds and celery. On the palate, it is dry with medium+ to high acidity, light body, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish with notes of chalk. This wine retails for about $25.
2. 2011 Andre et Michel Quenard, Jacquère, Les Abymes
Our second wine was a Jacquère, another varietal that I had never tasted before so I didn’t have a basis for comparison. It also seemed like rather normal white wine with some citrus notes and high acidity that would pair well with fish or light salads. It is a variety of white grape found primarily in the Savoy wine region of France. It is a high-yielding vine variety which is used to produce lightly scented, rather neutral dry white wine, such as Vin de Savoie.
The 2011 Andre et Michel Quenard, Jacquère, Les Abymes is a clear white wine, light straw, star-bright, with medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate aromas of green apples, white grapefruit, lemons and chalk. On the palate it is dry with medium+ acidity, medium body, medium+ alcohol and a medium length finish. This wine retails for about $14.
3. 2012 Jean-Francois Anne de la Biguerne Chignin, Savoie
Chignin is a named cru of the Vin de Savoie appellation in the Savoie region of eastern France. It is named after the village of Chignin, which is located immediately south-east of Chambery. Red wines from Chignin may be made from Mondeuse, Gamay and Pinot Noir, but may also contain up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Persan – a variety unique to Savoie. Chignin white wines are made predominantly from Jacquere and are dry and light in style. The best known Chignin white wines are made from Roussanne.
The 2012 Jean-Pierre et Jean-Francois Quenard Chignin-Bergeron Les Damoiselles, Savoie is made from Roussanne, a white-wine grape named after its skin color which has a reddish-gold pigment that equates to the French word roux (meaning ‘russet’, or ‘reddish-brown’). The variety originated in the northern Rhône Valley and I have had numerous wines from its home as well as from California.
The white is clear, straw-yellow, day-bright with medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate to pronounced aromas of golden apples, ripe bananas, hints of turmeric, and crushed rock. On the palate it is dry with medium body, moderate acidity, medium+ alcohol and a medium+ length finish. In comparisons to Roussannes I have experienced in California, this wine is lighter in body, isn’t quite as tropical, has slightly more acidity and has more minerality. This wine retails for about $14.
4. 2011 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Pouilly-Fuisse
This wine is made from 100% Chardonnay. It is a clean white wine, yellow-gold in color with a tinge of green around the edge and medium+ viscosity. On the nose it has medium intense aromas of bruised apples, canned pears, melon, and honey followed by vanilla, Crème brûlée, and a hint of butter. On the palate it has medium to medium+ acidity, medium body with a round mouth-feel, moderate alcohol, medium+ complexity and a medium length finish with lingering hazelnuts. Overall this wine has great balance and unique old-world character unobtainable from California soil. This wine retails for about $30.
5. 2011 Domaine Labet Côtes du Jura Fleur de Savagnin Vin Ouille
This wine is made from 100% Savagnin, a grape I had not previously experienced. It is a variety of white wine grape with green-skinned berries and is mostly grown in the Jura region of France.
The wine is clear, day-bright, with a tint of green around the edges, low concentration and low rim viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate to powerful aromas of bananas, quince, baked apples, with notes of vanilla, a waft of banana bread, hints of parmesan cheese and hazelnuts. On the palate it is dry with medium acidity, medium body and alcohol and moderate+ complexity and a medium length finish. This wine retails for about $20 to $30.
6. 2012 Lapierre, Raisins Gaulois, Beaujolias
This wine is made 100% from the Gamay grape. The wine is clear, day-bright, ruby-red at the core to pink at the rim, medium concentration and medium viscosity. The wine has aromas of pomegranates, cooked cherries, raspberries, roses and a hint of spice. On the palate it is dry with medium to medium+ acidity, medium body, medium tannins and moderate alcohol with medium complexity and a medium length finish with notes of fresh cherries, dry earth, herbs and spice. I’m not the biggest fan of Beaujolias and I have tasted this wine before, but this time it was served slightly cooler than before and so the fruit seemed more vibrant and fresher so it was actually a decent wine. This wine retails for about $13.
7. 2011 Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py
This wine is 100% Gamay from Beaujolais from organically farmed vines planted on Schist, Granite, and Manganese. It is clear, day-bright, ruby red at the core to pink with medium rim variation, concentration and viscosity. On the nose it has some subtle notes of volatile acidity and Brettanomyces and while it doesn’t overwhelm the fruit it was the first thing I noticed. The wine is clear, ruby-red at the core to pink at the rim with medium concentration and viscosity. On the nose it has aromas of cherries, pomegranates, cranberries, red licorice, dry earth, a hint of herbs and cedar. On the palate the wine is dry with medium tannins, medium to medium+ acidity, medium body and a medium length finish. This wine retails for about $34.
8. 2009 Domaine Mouton, Givry 1er Cry, La Grande Berge
This is wine is 100% Pinot Noir. It is a clear ruby-red wine, day bright with minor rim variation of garnet at the rim, medium concentration and medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of earth, smoke, mushrooms, and potpourri up front followed by dark cherries, dried cinnamon stick and dried herbs. On the palate it is silky on entry, it has medium tannins, and medium+ acidity. It is well balanced as the earth, spice and fruit really come together in a complex finish medium + length finish. I search around the internet for a price this wine, but I find it difficult to believe that this wine sells for only $15.
9. 2005 Benedicte and Stephane Tissot, Arbois, Vin Jaune, En Spois, Jura
This wine is a truly unique made from the Savignin grape in the Jura region of South eastern France. This was the first time I had experience this wine and it reminds me of a cross between a fino sherry and a meursault. It is sold in an odd bottle called a clavelin.
It a clear white wine, solid gold in color with no rim variation, and medium+ viscosity. On the nose it has powerful aromas of dried oranges, dried apricots, caramel, brown sugar, honey and a hint of saffron. On the palate it is dry silky with volatile sharp acidity, high alcohol which provides a touch of sweetness and it has a very long finish with notes of butterscotch and lingering hazelnuts. This wine retails for about $59.
 If you do a Google image search for Trousseau the first thing that appears are wedding dresses. There is a company that makes bridal dresses who goes by the name Modern Trousseau, trousseau being another name for the outfit of a bride, apparently the shape of the bunch apparently looks “packed up” like a wedding dress. Searching for its other well-known synonym “Bastardo” will give you a picture of a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies named Antonio Bastardo.