We’re continuing the theme of Jura in France here. The sleepy little village of l’Etoile is located just north of Lons le Saunier – birth-place of Rouget de Lisle, the composer responsible, amongst many finer works, for writing La Marseillaise. It is also home to the cheese factory that invented and still makes the cubes of processed cheese whose finest virtue is their distinctive packaging – La Vache qui Rit. You will see a huge cow face logo up above you as you drive on the ring road around the town.
L’Etoile gives its name to a very small wine appellation in the Jura, which is only used for white wines, though in Jura that includes the famous yellow wine or Vin Jaune. The vineyards of l’Etoile are on a clay-limestone soil, but there are distinct, tiny, but visible to the human eye, star-shape fossils scattered around the soil – this area was a sea many millions of years ago – and the word in French for star is, you guessed it, l’étoile. Apparently the village is also so-named because of the five hills around it that form a star-like shape.
Chardonnay is the most planted grape variety and is used for the sparkling Crémant du Jura (a separate appellation) and for the simple white l’Etoile, which is usually made in an oxidative way matured in non-topped up barrels giving the flavours of apples and nuts combined with a searingly dry taste – you need rich creamy dishes to accompany this wine. The classic white Jura grape Savagnin is also grown and this is used for the famous l’Etoile Vin Jaune. Some deliciously sweet Vin de Paille can be found too made from a blend of these two grapes, sometimes with a touch of the red Poulsard variety, dried for several months before pressing.
Nicole Deriaux of Domaine de Montbourgeau makes ultra traditional l’Etoile wines, and another favourite wine estate that I mention in the ‘Around Lons le Saunier’ guide is Domaine Philippe Vandelle. It’s a fascinating area to explore on a wine tour.
Congratulations to entrepreneur and wine lover Leslie Haas Clanton of Richmond, Virginia who is about to tell me which of the 50 wine travel guides (2 on Rioja about to be live …) that she wants as her prize.
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