Against a backdrop of limestone and clay, Pascal Clairet wears a statement we can support.

Swoon-Worthy Arbois Wines from Domaine de la Tournelle…

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Had there been doubt in my mind that a recently tasted lineup of wines from Domaine de Tournelle was truly outstanding, it dissolved when one of my employers exclaimed of the 2006 Ploussard de Monteiller “this makes me want to drink wine.” The praise simply doesn’t get higher. Certainly my praise could not have been higher; it was the finest five bottle set of Jurassian wine I had come across in some time. And such accolades before we had seen the prices (!), which, to say the least, are incredibly reasonable. Not to overemphasize the point, but as a retail buyer, these are wines one purchases on the spot, because one’s own need (and one’s boss’ need) to drink them suddenly becomes of supreme importance.

As winemaking couples go, we observe straight away that Evelyne Clairet plays as significant a role at the Domaine as Pascal. The year before last when I tasted with the Clairets at the Dive Bouteille in the Loire Valley, it was Evelyne who poured the wine and gave me the technical information. The couple does not have a long history of winemaking in the Jura; Domaine de la Tournelle dates back to a notoriously challenging vintage: 1991, when Pascal began to lease vines in Arbois. Things didn’t get fully underway until the late ‘90s, when Evelyne gave up her job as a winery technician in the Rhône, and both sought oenology degrees, along with advice from the regional pundits such as Pierre Overnoy. The Domaine is now seven hectares, a house, cellar, and bistro in the downtown of Arbois. We’ve heard great things about the bistro, but have thus far not succeeded in our attempts to dine there - fingers crossed for the next visit.

In the vineyards, the Clairets have been farming organically since 2000, with certification as of 2007; they are in conversion to biodynamics. Great attention is given to picking and sorting, with all harvesting done by hand, a rigorous post-harvest sorting, and a gentle de-stemming. At seven hectares, Domaine de la Tournelle is the maximum size for a one man - or, in this case, one couple - show in the Jura. In the cellar, the methods are best described as “hands off,” with native yeast fermentations in vat, minimal temperature intervention (meaning the juice is naturally kept cool during fermentation by the ambient temperature in the cellar), and aging in neutral barrels. The Clairets’ sulfur regime varies from wine to wine, with none added to the Ploussard “L’Uva Arbosiana,” a young drinking Ploussard that is fermented carbonically. The couple tests each wine before deciding how much sulfur to add by leaving it exposed to oxygen for two days. The wine’s deterioration over 24 hours lets them know whether sulfur is needed or not, and when they can work without it, they do! There’s generally no more than 20mgs of sulfur added to any of the cuvées.

These wines are delicate and high-toned, the whites structured and high in acidity, the reds lacey and pretty, but by no means lacking depth. As you peruse the offer, please pay special attention to the 2006 Ploussard de Monteiller, which hints at maturity and is drinking beautifully now, also to the Clairets’ lovely Trousseau from the well-regarded Corvées vineyard in Arbois. Santé! -Sophie    

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Tournelle 2007 Chardonnay Terre de Gryphees

If Fleur de Savagnin shows the austere and mineral side of the Clairets' white wines, Terre de Gryphées shows the pretty side. The nose offers orchard fruits and fennel seed, and there's a lactic quality to the wine that gives it richness and balances its high acidity. Lightly oxidative, while this wine is more accessible than the Savagnin, it's no less interesting and makes a super partner for the cheeses of the region. -msb

 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

Tournelle 2008 Arbois Fleur de Savagnin

Pascal Clairet of Domaine de la Tournelle broke his leg in numerous places at the beginning of the 2007 harvest, leaving his wife, Evelyne, to oversee the harvest and vinification. He loved the resulting Savagnin and praised the vintage for being ideal. The wine spends some months under the traditional veil of yeast, but not as long as many "sous voille" Savagnins, meaning that the voille flavors are relatively mild. The complex and compelling nose offers orange peel, quince, anise, and almond flesh along with penetrating minerality and high acidity. If you like to taste earth and stones, here's your wine! -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $32.99

Tournelle 2008 Arbois Trousseau des Corvees ARR 7/3

In "natural" wine, we sometimes find that process can overshadow grape variety and/or terroir. The Clairets' make what we would consider "natural" wine, yet varietal character (and terroir) seem to shine through so vividly. This is classic Trousseau, with dark, velvety, flower petal notes on the nose, sweet, high-toned berry fruits, balanced by a hint of funk, and blackberry fruit and seeds. The finish is all purple flowers and licorice. In general, the 2008 vintage was challenging for Jura growers, especially for red wines. The Clairets truly seem to have triumphed in spite of the obstacles of the vintage. -msb 

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

Tournelle 2006 Arbois Ploussard de Monteiller

Those of you who fell in love with the '04 Ploussard de Monteiller will be delighted with this new vintage of the wine. Those who have no experience with the Domaine will love this wine. It's drinking so well right now. Super pale in the glass, the wine is beginning to show evolution on the nose with notes of leather, dried leaves, and flower petals. The palate is soft but structured with an earthy, mushtoomy hint and the nervy, piquant quality that gives these cool climate wines their charm. Decant, chill, and enjoy! -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

Tournelle 2010 Arbois Ploussard L'Uva Arbosiana

From the same vineyard that gives us Tournelle's "Monteiller" comes this carbonic maceration Ploussard, made for quaffing young and quenching thirst. A perfect summer red, this wine is abounding with red currant, sumac, blood orange, and pomegranate. It's an all around tangy sensation. You'll sense some reduction upon first opening so give it some air and a chill before drinking. -msb

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99