France’s Jura region is known for producing unique and distinctive wines, including two standout varieties: Savagnin and Poulsard. These wines showcase the region’s terroir, traditional winemaking techniques, and rich history. In this guide, we will explore the characteristics and flavors of Savagnin and Poulsard, and provide insights into their production and pairing options.
The Essence of Savagnin
Savagnin, also known as the “traminer” grape, is a white grape variety that originated in the Jura region. It is a unique grape with a distinctive flavor profile that sets it apart from other white wines. Savagnin wines are known for their nutty, oxidized, and slightly saline characteristics. These wines undergo a traditional winemaking process known as “ouillé,” which involves topping up the barrels to prevent oxidation. The result is a complex, aromatic wine with a rich golden color.
The Tasting Experience
When you open a bottle of Savagnin, you can expect to encounter notes of almonds, lemon, white flowers, and a touch of honey. It has a medium to full body, with a crisp acidity and a long, lingering finish. The texture is often described as oily, giving the wine a smooth and velvety mouthfeel. Savagnin is a wine that ages exceptionally well, developing additional complexity and intensity over time.
To experience the full potential of Savagnin, it is recommended to serve it slightly chilled, around 12-14 degrees Celsius. This temperature allows the wine to express its unique flavors and aromas.
Savagnin’s distinctive flavor profile makes it a versatile wine when it comes to food pairing. Its nutty and oxidative notes complement well with a variety of dishes, including aged cheeses such as Comté and Gruyère, roasted poultry, seafood, and traditional Jura cuisine, like chicken with morels or yellow wine sauce. Its acidity and body also make it a fine companion for Asian cuisine, particularly dishes with rich sauces or spicy flavors.
The Charm of Poulsard
Poulsard is a red grape variety native to the Jura region. It produces elegant, light-bodied red wines with delicate aromas and flavors. Poulsard wines are known for their pale color, reminiscent of a rosé, and their vibrant acidity. This grape variety is often used in producing wines that are fresh, fruity, and low in tannins, making them easy-drinking and approachable.
The Tasting Experience
Upon pouring a glass of Poulsard, you will notice its bright, pale red color. The aromas are characterized by red berries, such as raspberry and strawberry, along with floral undertones. On the palate, Poulsard displays a light body, refreshing acidity, and soft tannins. The wine is vibrant and lively, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer lighter reds. Poulsard is best enjoyed slightly chilled, at around 14-16 degrees Celsius.
Poulsard’s light and delicate character make it a fantastic wine to pair with a variety of dishes. Its soft tannins and refreshing acidity complement well with charcuterie, pâtés, roasted chicken or turkey, and vegetarian cuisine. Poulsard also goes well with local Jura delicacies like Comté cheese and smoked sausages. For a charming and relaxed dining experience, serve Poulsard with a cheese and cured meat platter, accompanied by crusty bread.
Discovering the Wines of Jura
The Jura region in France is home to a wide variety of wine styles and grape varieties. In addition to Savagnin and Poulsard, other notable wines from the region include Chardonnay, Trousseau, and Vin Jaune. Exploring the wines of Jura allows wine enthusiasts to discover unique flavors, traditional winemaking techniques, and the beauty of this lesser-known wine region.
For more information on European wines, including tips on pairing wine with food and how to properly store and enjoy wine, check out our related articles: