Jean Bourdy Chateau-Chalon 1990
Some of the oldest and longest lived wine in the world is from the Jura in the form of vin jaune, which competes with sherry for the title of world’s greatest ‘oxidized’ wine. In particular, in the cellars of Jean Bourdy you can find bottles of the famous Chateau-Chalon dating back for over 100 years.
Chalon and Bourdy
Chateau-Chalon is an AOC in the Jura from which is produced the best vin jaunes – the wine aged in oak for six years under flor (or ‘voile’ as it is called in the Jura). The appellation has increasingly gained in fame and desirability over the years, with particular interest in Scandinavia. As such, these have become quite expensive wines.
Jean Bourdy is probably the most traditional producer of Chateau-Chalon (the family has been in wine since 1475), though he is not considered by all to be the best. Personally, I find his wines compelling and, when it comes to the Chateau-Chalon, amongst the very best in France.
What distinguishes this vin jaune from both the ordinary and the very good is its supreme elegance. The flavour nuances are subtle – nuts (the Savignan grape is known to have a hazelnut note) and salt and the distinctive oxidative notes from voile aging. The mouthfeel is very fine and soft for what is often an aggressive wine. Older vin jaunes are known to show curry notes, but I did not detect these in this wine – perhaps it was still too young at 23 years. That said, this is drawn from the library collection and was housed in the Bourdy cellars until shipped into BC this fall via special order. The current release is from the 2000 vintage.
Ultimately, Chateau-Chalon is for the initiated only who want to experience an incomparable wine-style, which is distinctly regional and, in my opinion, quite different and more complex than most (though not all) sherry. This is not to decry sherry, which I love, but rather to say that vin jaune has an uncommon and inimitable age-worthiness and level of distinction.
Paired with Jura chicken dishes or (as I did), famously with the regional Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese (arguably the greatest cheese in the world), I cannot think of a more distinctive and utterly unique gastronomic experience.
Excellent to Excellent+
$425 from Sedimentary Wine (I believe the current vintage release is around $180)