Chateau d’Arlay Vin Jaune, Vin de Liqueur Macvin, et Vin de Paille 2002

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An incredible way to taste the Jura, aged white wines (that border on liqueurs), and most importantly the sensibility of Alain de Laguiche. The Chateau has been classified as an historic monument that carries a family tradition of wine making for centuries, honoring and elevating the taste of terroir into an almost ethereal experience. Their tradition is marked by the use of aging on subterranean lees, and southern sun exposure to the vines. Each wine is a world unto itself, with a quality that can seemingly only be described as uniquely personal. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to taste these wines side by side at Bar Vivant, in a city I didn’t know, while reading “The Third Policeman” by Flann O’Brian. It was a rare evening, all around.

From left to right, Vin Jaune to Vin de Paille, the progression went from a heavy mineral, slightly nutty, manzanilla-like character to deep, brooding maple, smoked cherry and straw butter. Concentrated, intense, powerful, but all totally different!

le Vin Jaune: 100% Savagnin. Traditional methods apply, where wine undergoes 2nd fermentation allowing yeasts to form a protective layer at the top of the barrel. Over a course of 6 1/2 years, this develops into the bouquet that is so characteristic of Vin Jaune (and quite similar to that of some sherries).

le Vin de Liqueur Macvin: Chardonnay (50%) et Savagnin (50%). Aged for 7 years in brandy casks followed by 3 years in old oak barrels.

le Vin de Paille:  Chardonnay (30%), Poulsard (20%), Trousseau (20%) et Savagnin (30%). Vine clusters are hand picked and placed on straw mats for 3-4 months. The drying process naturally concentrates the fruit, elevates the sugar level and reduces acidity levels. After a light pressing, the liquid is put into small barrels and aged for 3-4 years, with no sugar added.

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