Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The memorable complexity of a 1982 Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune

If a good friend of yours has a 27-year-old bottle of wine and is unsure whether he should open it or not, don't linger any longer, invite him for dinner, cook something good to accompany the wine, and savor the moment!

In the case of my friend, the bottle was a 1982 Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune Fruitière Agricole de Château-Chalon, a wine from the Jura, a mountain range located between Burgundy and Switzerland. The wine is produced with late harvest Savagnin, a native grape of the region, related to the Traminer family. Like Sherry, The Vin Jaune or Yellow Wine is matured in barrels under a film of yeast on the surface of the wine, but unlike Sherry, it is not fortified. The wine ferments and ages in small 228 liters barrels that are not topped up. This creates a air gap above the wine permitting the formation of a veil (voile) of active yeast at the surface of the wine. Traditionally, Vin Jaune is bottled in special 62 cl bottles because at the time of bottling, only 62% of the original wine has remained after several years of barrel ageing.

Poularde aux Morilles et au Vin Jaune (Chicken with Morels and Vin Jaune) is the wine's classic pairing in the Jura but to tell you the truth, I was not ready to sacrifice a bottle of Vin Jaune just for that recipe. So on the website of a Jura producer, I found a chicken curry recipe that called for coconut, apple, banana, and tomato, and looked pretty tasty.

Chicken Curry with Coconut, Apple, Banana, and Tomato

The wine was extraordinary. It showed a deep yellow color and an assertive nose of dry fino aromas. On the palate, the first impression was silkiness and roundness. And then, the mouth was filled with rich flavors of walnut and almond, followed by more layers of multi-dimensional complexity. After a couple of sips, the wine would leave a lingering aftertaste of curry spice, just like my chicken dish. This was amazing!

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