Last week(wow, already…) I decided to prepare an elegant dinner for my wife and I: something with which we could enjoy a glass of our newly bought, expensive and never before tasted VIN JAUNE from the French region of Jura.
I believe I have mentioned this region before. It is a small region, north-east of Savoie, near Switzerland, where they make very interesting and rather unique wines. In Québec, at the moment, they’ve become something of a rage. The main cépages found in Jura are the white grapes Savagnin and Chardonnay, and the red Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau grapes. The whites usually produce rather heavy bodied, well structured slightly oxidative wines with nutty, mineral and apple cider notes. Often, their finish will be dry with a subtle acidity to lighten the flavors that excite the nose and palate upon first impression. VIN JAUNE is a wine produced specifically in the region that follows a process similar to Sherry. The process involves aging the wine in a barrel for a number of years, I believe 6 to be exact, where it produces a yeast, or voile as it is referred to in France, that covers the wine and lets it develop its flavors. No wine is added to the barrel in order to not disturb the process. However, unlike Sherry, the wine is not fortified; which is when a distilled alcohol or “spirit” is added, such as brandy, to help preserve it. It also adds character and flavor to the original, unfortified product. VIN JAUNE is only made with the Savagnin grape, and is made with grapes harvested late during the season, grapes that have developed enough sugars in order to produce slightly higher alcohol levels, typically around 15%. The voile takes 2 to 3 years to develop and when the 6 years and 3 months have passed where the VIN JAUNE has been oxidizing, only about 60% of the original liquid is left. The VIN JAUNE is always bottled in 62cl bottles.
I should mention, that my understanding of the process is limited…
Anyways, in order to complement this Vin Jaune, which I imagined being a robust example, with deeper and more complex flavors, of the whites from Jura I had already tried, I decided to make a rich and floral fish and mussel soup, or stew, or dish: whatever you want to call it. The combination was surprisingly perfect. More on that later: let’s speak about the soup.
The soup consisted of the following ingredients:
onions, carrots, celery (for a mirepoix)
I started off my sweating my mirepoix and garlic in olive oil and a touch of butter at a low heat. When that was ready, I added a table spoon of paprika, let it cook for about 30sec. and then added the fish fumet, safran, sliced fennel, diced potatoes, orange wedges, bay leaf and halved tomatoes, which I covered in water. I let that simmer with a top on until the fennel and potatoes had cooked through. When this took place, I added my two pieces of sablefish, which would poach in the broth and then after a few minutes, I added the mussels on the top of it all and raised the heat in order for the steam to cook them.
When the mussels were cooked, which happens when they’ve opened, I mixed in some fresh Italian parsley, and seasoned it.
The Vin Jaune we enjoyed was probably not its the greatest example. There a number of more renowned producers in the region, but it was delicious none the less, closer to a white Jura than I had expected, fuller bodied, but with a dry, mineral finish complemented by a nice acidity that paired beautifully with the flavors of the fennel and oranges that were in the broth. Success!