Thursday, July 5, 2012

Drinking Jura Chardonnay... Again

In my never-ending quest to taste as many expressions of the chardonnay grape as humanly possible, I frequently stumble across the Jura region of eastern France. With their high acid (sometimes austere) and complex flavors of mineral, chalk and nuts, chardonnays from the Jura are some of the most unique in the world. Different producers obviously craft different chards, but almost all the Jura chardonnays I've sipped seem to possess a racy and mysterious quality, a bit of je ne sais quoi.

The wine that started me thinking about Jura chardonnays again was a 2007 Domaine Rolet L'Etoile (France, Jura, L'Etoile). Bassins, a DC-based wine shop with a shifting cache of wines from the Jura, is practically giving this wine away for $17.99. I had to try it.

This 100 percent chardonnay is a pretty yellow color in the glass with thick legs. The aromas are packed with lemons, rich yellow pear, minerals and almond shell. The palate is an interesting combination of oily thickness, razor-sharp acid and brisk minerals. It near full-bodied, with orange rind and honeydew melon flavors, but the acid and mineral intensity keeps it balanced. The flavors of oyster shell and salt brine might not be for everyone, but I love them. If I was searching for a perfect wine to drink with oysters or clams, this would be a serious contender. I also think it could age beautifully for at least five years. I scored it a whole-hearted 91 points.

Chardonnay makes up 34 percent of Domaine Rolet's vines, while the rest of the vineyards are split between the staple Jura varieties of savagnin, poulsard, trousseau and pinot noir. The domaine puts out a range of wines under the Arbois, Côtes du Jura and l'Etoile appellations, wines that I'm now very eager to try.

This is just another example of the unique and value-priced chardonnays that the Jura has to offer.

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