First, a few more photos from the Ardeche that I didn't have time to post yesterday.
On Saturday, April 10, we left the Ardeche and drove to the Jura. Our first planned stop was at the Cave de Sarras wine cooperative in the northern Ardeche, which we knew closes for lunch at noon. We figured we’d just make it, but there were several traffic delays after we got off the main road. We pulled into the parking lot at the Cave at about one minute before noon, and to our horror we saw that the metal grate at the entrance was just starting to roll down. So we missed it by less than a minute.
After driving out of Sarras, we decided to take another detour, this time to a village, which we knew wouldn’t close for lunch! We stopped at Perouges, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (Most Beautiful Villages in France), and took a brief stroll around the village. We then headed off to our gite in the Jura, in the tiny village of Brainans, arriving right on time to meet the owners. Brainans is a tiny village with a church high up on the hill overlooking the village. From the road outside our gite there is a good view of the church and its clock tower, with a vineyard between the church and the road:
We later drove to the nearby commercial center of Poligny, where we stocked up on some provisions. That night, we drank the Cremant de Jura from Domaine Boisson that was given to us by the gite owners. Most producers in the Jura make sparkling wines, with the AOC being Cremant de Jura. The Boisson Cremant, like many sparkling wines from Champagne, was made from a Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend, and it was a dead ringer for a good Champagne. Jura sparkling wines are rarely seen outside the region (although one, Domaine Rolet “Couer de Chardonnay,” is available in Maine), and the best rival most Champagnes at a fraction of the price.
We spent the next morning in Arbois, a modest-sized town that is the center of the Jura wine region, and stopped at the tasting room of Domaine Rolet Pere et Fils. We tried a full range of their wines, and bought a Vin de Paille and a Cote de Jura that was 100% Savagnin grapes. This Savagnin was made in the traditional oxidized, oaky style of Jura Savignans, not dissimilar to a fino sherry. After lunch at our gite we returned to Arbois via back roads along the Routes des Vins, visited the wine museum there, and went to 2 other tasting rooms: Domaine Andre et Mirielle Tissot, and Domaine Jacques Tissot. We both thought the wines of the first Tissot, now run by son Stephane, were rather bizarre and not to our liking. But we loved the wines of Jacques Tissot, and bought 3 of their wines: a Cremant de Jura Brut; a Vin de Paille; and an Arbois Savagnin “Nature,” which was a fresh and fruity wine made in the newer style of Jura Savignans, which emphasizes fruit and avoids oxidation and excessive oak.
For more info on Jura wines, here are some sites: