Domaine André et Mireille/Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot, Jura
written by Van Doren Chan
In the wooded hills on the limestone plâteau, there you will find the rolling dairy country where vines drape the villages of the Jura Mountains. The town of Jura stretches about 250 kilometres from Lake Geneva northeast to Belfort along both sides of the Franco–Swiss border. Jura comes from a Gaulish word meaning ‘forest’.
Domaine André et Mireille/Benedicte & Stephane Tissot is one of the most progressive estates in Arbois. Founded in 1962 by André and Mireille, their son Stéphane took over the helm in 1990 after working at wineries in Australia and South Africa. He now operates the winery with his wife Bénédicte. They produce 28 wines, each a remarkable distillation of vineyard and grapes. They produce the kind of wines that make a wine-writer think, “Oh, yes! This is why I love wine!”
The estate was converted to all organic practices in 1999, followed by biodynamic methods in 2004; the Tissot vineyards are Demeter certified. Demeter is the largest International certification organization for biodynamic agriculture.
One of Tissot’s featured wines is Vin Jaune (yellow wine) made from 100% Savagnin. These are generally grown on soils of blue or grey marl. The grapes are picked in late November. Ideally, the must should be about 13% and the pH needs to be low to withstand the years of ageing. The wine is traditionally made in temperature controlled fermentation tanks and malolactic fermentation in due course.
At some point during after the cold winter, the Savagnin wine is transferred into neutral Burgundy oak barrels. Just like how Fino Sherry is made, the barrels are not entirely filled with some air space. After a period of time, a layer of yeast, the voile will appear on the surface of the wine, similar to Sherry’s flor. The best quality voile is grey and very thin, indicating a living and active yeast mixture. Once the voile has formed, it effectively protects the wine from further oxidation, and it helps to promote the aromas and flavours associated with Vin Jaune.
The storing condition of the barrels plays a big role. Indeed, many growers believe that the complexity of Vin Jaune is achieved partly by storing the barrels in several different locations with different condition cellars. Most prefer dry conditions, where the water content of the wine in the barrels with ullage, evaporating slowly and concentrating the flavours in the wine itself.
AOC requires Vin Jaune to remain in barrel for 6 years without racking. The earliest release allowed is at the start of the 7th year after harvest.
One of the classic pairings with Vin Jaune is the local Comté cheese. It is made from the milk of Montbéliarde cow, and is tangy and delightful. It will lead you to those ‘ahhh, c’est la vie…’ moments.
© Bénédicte and Stéphane Tissot 2006-2017 • All rights reserved
Another specialty from this region is Macvin du Jura which is a sweet powerful vin de liqueur. Macvin has been produced in this region for more than six centuries. Tissot’s Macvin Blanc is made using Chardonnay and Savagnin grapes. Macvin Rouge is made with Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard. The table wine made from these grapes will then be fortified with 30% Marc de Franche Comté and the addition of Süss Reserve, sweet grape juice reserved prior to fermentation, to add sweetness to the wine. This liqueur will then age for two years before bottling. This a beautiful wine to complete a delicious meal.