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I’ve been a huge fan of the wines made by Domaine de Saint Pierre since I first encountered them in the beginning of 2014. I remember it quite clearly: I walked into my friend’s wine shop and I spotted a big, fat bottle with a bright red label that was turned just enough to the side that all I could read was “Petit Curoulet.” I promptly asked what it was, and was told that it was a new arrival from the Jura. Enough said; I took it home for dinner that night. I opened it while cooking and it was showing reductive notes (the sulphuric aromas that are a sign of lack of oxygen in the winemaking process). No matter – many reds from the Jura do, so into the decanter it went. I revisited the bottle an hour later and it was singing with bright, crunchy red fruits and chalky minerality that screamed Poulsard (I would later find out that it was a blend of Poulsard and Pinot Noir). I was hooked, and immediately scoured the internet for what little I could find on the producer.
It turns out that the man behind the label was Fabrice Dodane. Fabrice was not a newcomer to the wine scene, having studied enology in Beaune before working several years at the cooperative in Pupillin. He started working at Domaine de Saint Pierre in 1989 as a manager and took full control in 2011. The estate covers approximately 6 hectares in the Arbois and Côtes du Jura AOCs with the vines planted in limestone and marl soils. Saint Pierre achieved organic certification by ECOCERT in 2012, having started conversion in 2002. All wines are fermented with native yeasts either in tank or neutral barriques; vinifications for the reds are done without the addition of sulphur. The whites are done flawlessly in both the traditional sous voile method as well as topped-up, or ouillé style.
Flash forward a few years, and a couple of meetings in New York with Fabrice, and his wines are staples on our shelves here at Chambers Street. They are clean, balanced expressions of their terroir, and drink almost too easily. The arrivals of the 2015 reds are a reason for excitement, offering pure, focused examples of Jura varietals for enthusiasts and novices alike. We also have new white arrivals in the form of Château Renard, a luscious, easygoing Chardonnay, and the Savagnin Sous Voile that spends around 6 years under a thin veil of yeast. We even have a little bit of the 2011 Melon a Queue Rouge (a distant, red-stemmed cousin of Chardonnay), the old vines of which were replanted after the 2011 harvest. All of these wines offer thoughtful insight to the terroir of the Jura, and are a testament to Fabrice’s deft winemaking ability. As with many producers, it’s always very satisfying to trace the progression of their wines over the course of multiple vintages. And given how great each subsequent vintage of Fabrice Dodane’s wines are, it is even more so. Tim Gagnon
A Vin de Liqueur made from Chardonnay with a bit of Trousseau, this is the first vintage of Larmes du Paradis that has been available to us, and we are very excited. Alternatively called Macvin in the Jura, this style of wine is made by arresting the primary fermentation with distilled grape spirit while there is still a fair amount of residual sugar in the wine. The result is a wine with deep golden color that shows aromas of warm golden raisin, fresh fig, hay, dried dates, sweet spice and a hint of cherry liqueur. Lots of depth and concentration on the palate, with excellent balance of sweetness and acidity; the finish is reminiscent of toffee candy with a hint of toasted walnut and an elegant salinity. This is great to have after dinner with cheese, but also makes for a great aperitif served well chilled. Tim Gagnon
Straight up Poulsard deliciousness! Lively, refreshing, and bursting with luscious strawberry, cherry, and red plum with a hint of spice, rosewater, and smoke. The palate is all about that classic, crunchy Jura minerality mingling with more bright red fruit and a mouth-watering acidity. This Poulsard is happily less structured than Fabrice’s Pinots, and is spot-on with appetizers like a mountain of charcuterie, but I have a feeling it’s going to be outstanding with everything at my upcoming Thanksgiving feast. Tim Gagnon
Made from 100% Pinot Noir, traditionally vinified in old, very large oak barrels, and with no SO2 added at any time – this is Arbois at its purest. The nose is a bouquet of spicy, floral aromas along with bright red cherry, grapefruit peel, blueberry, and brown spice. The palate is silken, with beautiful fruit and spice balanced by a touch of earth and piercing, chalky minerality. There is also a hint of salinity here, reminiscent of Kalamata olive that leads into the finish. Decant and serve cool with roast chicken, root vegetables, or charcuterie. Tim Gagnon
Les Gaudrettes is also made from Pinot Noir; however the grapes are vinified using carbonic maceration. The result is an invigorating wine rife with sappy red berries, white pepper, blood orange, cherry pit, and a hint of underbrush on the nose. More pretty red fruits and citrus shine through on the palate with a touch of salty minerals. Meatier tannins offer the wine a fair amount of structure, and more high-toned red fruits abound on the finish. This is an excellent vintage for this cuvee, and it is downright delicious. Tim Gagnon
Larger size = more fun. Les Gaudrettes is also made from Pinot Noir; however the grapes are vinified using carbonic maceration. The result is an invigorating wine rife with sappy red berries, white pepper, blood orange, cherry pit, and a hint of underbrush on the nose. More pretty red fruits and citrus shine through on the palate with a touch of salty minerals. Meatier tannins offer the wine a fair amount of structure, and more high-toned red fruits abound on the finish. This is an excellent vintage for this cuvee, and it is downright delicious. Tim Gagnon
The 2015 Château Renard is a home run. Chardonnay with a bit of Savagnin from parcels planted in clay and limestone soils made in the topped-up, or ouillé, style of winemaking. On the nose it is crisp and clean with delicate aromas of apricot, lime flower, almond skin, and tropical mango. The palate is much more intense with luscious, juicy green apple, cashew, sea salt, and tangy minerals. Long, textured, and a hint nutty on the finish, this would be perfect pairing with many different kinds of foods, especially roasted poultry. Tim Gagnon
In 2011 Fabrice Dodane of Domaine Saint Pierre took over from his estate's previous owner, whom he had worked with for nearly 20 years. He continually makes clean, precise, natural wines that are as delicious as they are accessible. Made from the obscure relative of Chardonnay called Melon-Queue-Rouge, this wine is raised ouillé (meaning "topped up" rather than aged in the traditional fashion under a veil of yeast). The wine is floral, honeyed, and quince-y with notes of tart green apple and crunchy green grape. For a white wine from the Jura, it's fairly fruit-forward and generous on the palate. This is the last vintage of this wine until 2018 (he had to replant the vines immediately after 2011) so don't miss this chance to taste something special. Tim Gagnon
A perfectly balanced wine made in the traditional sous voile style of the Jura. Aged for around 6 years under flor, it showcases succulent aromas of tropical melon, kirsch, orange rind, and salty toasted almond. The palate offers more juicy fruit in this warm vintage, but the fruit is punctuated by smoky, nutty flavors that mingle with exotic spice and framed by bracing acidity. Long and complex, this is a fantastic introduction to this style of winemaking. Tim Gagnon