Jura & Savoie
The smaller regions of Eastern France.
Jura is a small wine region in eastern France which is responsible for some traditional and highly idiosyncratic wine styles. It is close to, but quite distinct from the Swiss Jura. Sandwiched between Burgundy in the west and Switzerland in the east, the region is characterized by a landscape of wooded hillsides and the twisting topography of the Jura Mountains.
Jura's vineyards cover just over 4570 acres (1850ha), forming a narrow strip of land measuring nearly 50 miles (80km) from north to south. The total acreage is steadily increasing, but still represents less than one-tenth of the area under vine here two centuries ago, before phylloxera decimated the region's vineyards. Jura's wines are sold under five core appellations, the most quantitatively important of which are Arbois and Cotes du Jura.
Five main grape varieties used in the region's wines – three traditional and two more-modern imports. The first of the local varieties is Poulsard (or Ploussard as it is known in the communes of Arbois and Pupillin), a red grape which accounts for about one-fifth of the region's plantings. Poulsard is used mostly in dry reds, but also in sparkling rose wines. Trousseau, the other local red variety, requires high sunshine levels to mature properly and covers only the warmest 5% of Jura's vineyards. It is grown mostly around Arbois, where it produces a small quantity of varietal wines. White Savagnin (known locally as Nature) is used in all of the region's appellations and is responsible for the idiosyncratic vins jaunes ('yellow wines').
Savoie is a wine region in the far east of France, in the mountainous areas just south of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and the border with Switzerland. The region's location and geography have very much defined its character, which is fragmented, hilly and slightly Swiss. This is evident in the fresh, crisp white wines made here, as well as in the region's wine labels; many bear a white cross on a red background – the flag of both Switzerland and Savoie.
The distribution of growing areas for the region's two main appellations, Bugey and Vin de Savoie, perfectly demonstrates the degree to which the region's vineyards are fragmented by the mountainous terrain. Vin de Savoie wines come from more than seven entirely distinct pockets of vineyards, separated by towns, mountains and lakes. The fragmented vineyard areas of Bugey are no different.
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