Domaine Andre & Mireille Tissot Vin Jaune 2000

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IMG_4456I’ve written about the wines of Jura before, that old tucked away region in the eastern reaches of France near the Swiss border. Tissot, a fully biodynamic domaine, is now run by Stephane, the son of the winery’s namesake. The Tissot Graviers Chardonnay made my #2 wine of 2009 with its stellar combination of unique wine-geek flavours and approachability.

Vin Jaune, a special oxidized style of wine unique to the Jura, traditionally pairs with the famous cheese Vacherin mont d’or, also from the Jura region. This pairing was so good that I think I’m going to make it a Christmas Eve tradition. To understand how this wine tastes it is useful to look a little into the unique process that goes into creating it. The wine is made from late harvest Savignan grapes, a variety that is related to “Traminer” (aka Gewurztraminer). As the wine ferments in small old oak casks it is not “topped up” as traditional wine is, which allows an air gap to form in the barrel. Just like Sherry, a film of yeast forms on the wine and covers it (known as the voile), which partially protects it from oxygen. This is similar to Sherry’s “Flor”, although it is less thick and thrives better in a low alcohol environment. Thus, Vin Jaune can ferment with a yeast film at its lower 15-16% ABV. The wine ages for quite some time, and is not released until just over 6 years after harvest. Amazingly, this wine can age up to 50 years, and some claim it can last for 100.

This is an incredibly rare wine in the North American market, and few people will ever have the chance to drink it. We here in BC are lucky to have the opportunity to do so, even if it costs a sizable chunk of cash. In my opinion, the money is well worth it not just for the experience, but also for the sheer quality of the wine. The Sherry-like oxidation on the nose provides an enticing backdrop to the aromas of honey, flowers, apple, brown sugar, white chocolate and coffee. Really, you could sniff this for years and keep getting new aromas. Taste is optional!

But, of course it is an option I could not help but indulge in. The palate has that saline sherry quality from the oxidation, but the Vin Jaune has much more freshness than a fino sherry, and it reminds me somewhat of an old white Rioja with lemon and lime citrus zip. As the palate develops you will also detect caramel and nuts (like a fuller bodied oloroso Sherry). There is incredible mid-palate acidity that promises great ageability, but also great potential to pair with food. Balanced and long, the wine also tasted great with the Vacherin and cut through the funky flavours of the washed rind. This wine demands attention and slow appreciation and is an extremely engaging experience. Even though you get less then a full 750ml per bottle, this will take many hours to consume if you spend the requisite time necessary to appreciate each sip. The Tissot Vin Jaune is a wine geek adventure worth having, and one that I won’t forget for some time.

$95 / 500ml at Kitsilano Wine Cellar

The Vacherin was $40 at Benton Brothers Cheese


  1. Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune 2000 « Just Grapes - [...] and yet they marry perfectly, particularly when the Vacherin is very ripe. If you didn’t read last year’s post…

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