Jura Wines

It is no wonder therefore, that while the Jura region has exploded in popularity in recent years, its charismatic winemaker, Fabrice Dodane of Domaine de Saint-Pierre is clearly a figure leading the charge. It is a gastronomic pocket-rocket region, producing some of the finest in French cheese, chocolate and wine. The parochial producers of Jura are no longer living in the shadow of France's better known regions and have now achieved a level of recognition rightly deserved. Jura is a proud bastion of exceptional wine making, style and unique terroir.


One of the smallest wine regions of France, Jura is not to be underestimated. Set on the eastern side of France, it is sandwiched between Burgundy and Switzerland. The wines produced in their small 1,850 hectares of vines are similar to the Swiss Jura wines but drawn characteristics of France to form a unique range of wines.

Stretching through the twists and turns of the Jura Mountains, the region is a narrow strip of land around 80km in length.


Historically loved by the Europeans for the distinct and unique flavours, Jura received a heavy hand from Phylloxera in the 1800s and lost 90% of its vines. Now working with only 10% of their capabilities the popularity and market share has dropped and winemakers are working hard to bring Jura back onto the map.

For many regions, they grafted to American vine stock and replanted quickly and efficiently. Yet for Jura, the traditional grape varietals of Ploussard, Trousseau, and Savagnin did not agree with the grafting process. It was decades of struggling to grow existing vines on sterile plots before stronger rootstocks were formed and the traditional vines could return to the vineyards on the mountainside.

Don't be fooled by its small and steady rise, the winemakers that persisted through the difficult times honed their skills and have now passed it onto their successors. With the existing producers being some of the most skilled and adaptive winemakers of the country.

Climate & Soil

A little known fact is the Jurassic Period was named after Jura, France due to the way the limestone mountains represent the geological developments that occured between 145 to 200 million years ago. Therefore, the soils on which the Jura vines are planted is primarily Jurassic period limestone and marl. The appellation, l'Etoile, was named after the star-like fossils hailing from the ocean creating limestone rich soils, distinct to the appellation.

Being on the Eastern side of France, landlocked and mountainous, the climate is warm and dry in the summers and extremely cold in winter (especially at the top of the mountains). Majority of vines are planted at low elevation, around 30 metres, upon south-facing slopes to ensure maximum sun is received. Few vines reach the heights of 1,350 metres due to the frost and inaccessibility.

High trellising is popular in the region for vine training, as it keeps the vines away from ground frost. The Savagnin grape varietal is highly susceptible to autumn frost as it takes longer to ripen to perfection for the creation of vin jaune.


This small region is host to five different and distinct grape varietals: Ploussard, Trousseau, White Savagnin, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

Ploussard, a traditional grape varietal of Jura, is a red grape accounting for one-fifth of the Jura vines. Primarily used for dry reds and sparkling rosés it is a popular wine within the Arbois and Pupillin communes.

The other red varietal with its roots in the region is Trousseau, yet it is slightly more troublesome to cultivate with its need for high levels of sunlight and warmth. Therefore, it is only found in the warmest areas of Arbois, accounting for 5% of total region plantings.

Named Nature by locals, White Savagnin is planted across all Jura appellations and is the key ingredient to the vins jaunes, the yellow wines of Jura that are extremely dry and age extensively.

More recently, Chardonnay has made its way into the Jura region and now holds almost half of the total plantings across all appellations. Locally it is referred to as Melon d'Arbois or Gamay Blanc, and is primarily used for making fresh and modern wines that Jura had been lacking.


Côtes du Jura

Regional appellation of Jura, first introduced in 1937 and remains the largest appellation in size. Production wise, it is currently second to Arbois with its outputs.

Extending a fair way south, this regional appellation contains all the communes that sit outside of the Arbois and L'Etoile catchments of the north.

Covering 105 communes across 80km from Champagne-sur-Loue to Saint-Amour, the Cotes du Jura wines can be red, white or rose. Hosting around 640 hectares of vines, the appellation also includes the famous vin jaune and vin de paille. As such a wide range of wines are produced in this appellation, the Jurassiens have begun classing their wines by hues rather than simply red and white, including coral and ruby in their descriptions.

The alternative colours reflect the ruling that white wines of Cotes du Jura can have up to 20% red wine grapes within them, and vice versa. With Ploussard having a very light pigment itself, aiding the exact colour of Jura rose wines.


The most bountiful appellation, Arbois, sits in the northern parts of Jura with 800 hectares of vines. While it produces the full range of wine styles, its fame and prestige comes from its red wines, with the town of Arbois being dubbed the regional wine capital. Rightly named, the Celtic origins of Arbois is one meaning 'fertile soil', likely from the rich alluvial soils around the Cuisance river.

Ploussard and Trousseau are championed here, with a small percentage of Pinot Noir also planted. For whites, the Savagnin and Chardonnay grapes are used. Due to the array of grapes, the similar terms for varying hues of wines is used here as well as the regional appellation.

As one of the first appellations introduced in 1936, Arbois claims to be the very first of all AOCs thanks to its alphabetised position. Since this establishment, Arbois has continued to thrive across its 13 communes, growing a reputation with the high quality wines of Pupillin (a small village within the appellation).


Covering only 75 hectares of vines, the appellation of L'Étoile includes the villages of Plainoiseau, Quintigny, Saint-Didier and L'Étoile itself. With such low production output the wine is rarely found in countries other than France.

Quite aptly, the five hills surrounding the village of L'Étoile sit in a shape resembling a star. The wines of the appellation are ones of fresh and minerally driven whites made primarily from Chardonnay. Thanks to the similar climates and soils, these Chardonnay somewhat resemble the fine wines of Chablis in Burgundy.

When not producing Chardonnay wines, Savagnin is also permitted in the L'Étoile appellation, used to produce the traditional Jurassien Vin Jaune. Then blended with Chardonnay, winemakers opt to make sweet vin de paille.

Red wines are not produced in this appellation.

Crémant du Jura

Home of the sparkling wines of Jura, Crémant du Jura was formalised in 1995. Bottles with this title represent the 18th century style sparkling wine originally sold as vin mousseux, under Jura's other appellations.

The appellation is one more in name than in location, as it covers the same areas as the Côtes du Jura appellation, the still wine equivalent. Stretching for almost 80km, over 105 communes, it starts with Champagne-sur-Loue in the north and ends with Saint-Amour in the south. Around 10 hectares of vines produce the sparkling wine of Jura, with its output being roughly 25% of all Jura wines.

The white sparkling must have at least 50% Chardonnay within the blend, the rest is made up of Savagnin. Percentages being up to the discretion of the winemaker. For the rosé sparklings, Ploussard and Pinot Noir must be at least 50% of the encepagement. With the wines made in the méthode traditionelle, aged in bottle with their lees for a minimum of nine months.

Macvin de Jura

A fortified wine appellation, producing late harvest vin du Jura with marc du Jura (brandy). Receiving its AOC status in 1991, it is the newest appellation of the region and only one of three vin de liqueur with such status.

Macvin wines have been made since the 1300s and can be made from all the grape varietals of Jura. In order to get the distinct flavours, the grapes are treated differently to other appellations with the harvest date being much later to increase the sugar content as much as possible. To form this fortified wine, Marc du Jura (pomace-based eau-de-vie) is added to the must towards the end of fermentation to halt the process and leave behind residual sugar. This presents a beautiful aperitif or dessert wine.


Hailing from the village of Château-Chalon, only white wines made from Savagnin grapes can be made here, specifically in the traditional vin jaune style. Known for its long ageing capabilities and dry nature, the vin jaune wines are not always labelled as such in this appellation as it is merely expected as soon as Château-Chalon is on the label.

Information Credit to: Jura Vins | Wine Searcher