Book review – ‘Jura Wine’ by Wink Lorch
Few wine regions are as closely aligned with the ‘natural’ wine movement as the Jura. This quiet and somewhat overlooked region in the central east of France, near the Swiss border, specializes in white wines made in a similar way to fino or manzanilla sherry, ‘sous voile’ or under the veil of flor yeast. Vin Jaune is their name, of which Chateau-Chalon is the most famous example.
Having toured the Jura a few years ago I can say it’s a fascinating place to visit and the best of its wines are wonderful. British-based wine writer Wink Lorch has published a very good new book on the Jura, entitled “Jura Wine” (Wine Travel Media, softback, 2014, £25). Lorch and I were co-contributors to the Tom Stevenson-edited “Wine Report” annual which flourished briefly from 2004 to ’09 (she on Jura and Savoie, me on Australia). She visited Sydney recently and conducted an excellent tasting of Jura wines.
Her book, which incidentally is crowd-funded, is beautifully written and presented, with many colour pictures – principal snapper was Mick Rock of Cephas, so they’re high quality – and the printing and paper stock are also quality.
The book is comprehensive. The history is well covered as are the wines, grape varieties (and they have some unusual ones, such as savagnin, trousseau and poulsard), the appellations, the soils and geology, the climate, winemaking and viticultural methods, while the bulk of the book focuses on the producers – more than 90 of them. Finally, there’s a section on wine service, vintages, and the foods of the region, with of course a special focus on the great local cheese, Comté.
Lorch is even-handed when discussing ‘natural’ winemaking; she is neither a starry-eyed proselyte nor a cynic, just presenting the facts in a sympathetic manner – although she does refrain from saying anything critical about those who produce faulty wines. She sensibly states there are good and bad examples of both natural and regular wines, although there are more faulty wines in the natural camp. And she cautions the reader not to assume producers working in other ways are unnatural!