Virtual Vin Jaune Class with Domaine Rolet !

Touring the Vin Jaune Cellars with Cedric Ducoté!

June 7, 2021
Arbois, Jura

One of the most special wines to come from the Jura is the infamous Vin Jaune.  Left to age in a non-topped up barrel for a minimum of six years and three months, a very thin veil of yeast called the “voile” protects the wine from oxidizing.  

During this ageing period, the Vin Jaune develops complex aromas and flavours thanks to the yeasts that form this famous “veil” and produce metabolites such as ethanal and aromatic molecules including Sotolon, identified to give these unique notes of nuts, mushrooms, undergrowth, cheese, yeast, citrus, etc.

In the video below, Cédric Ducoté, General Director at Domaine Rolet, takes us into the 14th century Vin Jaune cellar Cave d’Aiglepierre, in centre-ville Arbois to explain the unique techniques involved to create this special wine.

What is Vin Jaune?

Vin Jaune is a wine made from 100% Savagnin grapes, a native Jura grape variety that belongs to the Traminer family and is generally classified as non-aromatic.

It has a thick skin and is resistant to diseases. A late ripener, it is the last grape variety to be harvested in the Jura. 

Its high acidity is stable: it is found in the musts and the wines produced.The acidity helps to preserve the wine’s aromas, gives balance and a very good length.  This is one of the factors that makes Savagnin wine perfectly adapted to this oxidative maturation under the yeast veil and to age in non-topped up barrique for so long afterwards.

After the wine is made and fermentation has finished, the future Vin Jaune is aged in oak barrels, which are not topped up for 6 years and 3 months. The barrel is filled to 98% in order to let a population of yeasts – also saccharomycès cerevisiae – multiply until they cover the surface of the wine. The veil – called “le voile” – forms and protects the wine from oxygen. These yeast can develop if the savagnin has reached a good ripen, of 13% alcool potentiel. 

Throughout this maturation – under an intact veil – the level of the wine decreases, and the wine becomes concentrated and charged with ethanal and sotolon, metabolites produced by these yeasts. Sotolon is an aromatic molecule, which develops aromatic notes of walnut, curry, fenugreek, cumin, undergrowth, etc. This is a very long ageing time and different yeasts strains will be present during the process. 

In a research study up to 54 different yeasts strains have been identified in the Jura depending on the location of the estate and the type of the cellar. We know today, that the “voile” producing the more complex wines are those which are thin and grey.

At the end of this minimum ageing period of 6 years and 3 months, the barrel of wine has lost about 38% of its initial volume, corresponding to what is locally known as  “angel’s share”. This calculation may be an explanation for the particular measure of the Clavelin – Vin Jaune’s unique 62 cl bottle –  corresponding the 62% of wine remaining in the barrique.

Domaine Rolet keeps the Vin Jaune under veil for a longer period of time to gain even more aromatic complexity.

As the Vin Jaune ages, the acidity becomes more integrated and less aggressive, and the aromas gain in complexity: notes of undergrowth, nuts, mushrooms, curry, cumin, fenugreek, dried apricot. 

It is a wine that can also be enjoyed young, so don’t hesitate to open it a little before a meal or an aperitif and remember that it should be drunk at room temperature, not cold!

Old Vintages of Vin Jaune

Vin Jaune is a wine that can be kept for a very long time. It is not unusual to hear that it can be kept for 100 years or more.

For the little anecdote the oldest vintage sold is a 1774. There have been several bottles of this vintage sold at auction (in 2011 for €57,000 and more recently in 2018 for €107,700).

Domaine Rolet, known for its Magnum cellar for ageing white and red wines in excellent conditions, also has some old vintages of Vin Jaune in Clavelin of 62 cl.

Available millésimes: From vintage 1983 to 2011.

Arbois Vin Jaune 2011

Colour: Deep golden yellow

Aromas: Chamomile, starfruit, lemon pith, roasted walnuts

On the Palate: Zesty lemon and white grapefruit acidy in the mouth, followed by rich flavours of toasted Hazelnuts, fenugreek and comté cheese

Domaine Rolet Vin Jaune Press

93 Pts, Wine Spectator : Arbois Vin Jaune 2011 
91 Pts, Wine Advocate : Arbois Vin Jaune 2011 
92 Pts, Wine Enthusiast : Cotes du Jura Vin Jaune 2011 
The Percée du Vin Jaune celebrates the release of this special wine at the start of February every year. For Clavelinage 2020, the next release of Domaine Rolet's Arbois Vin Jaune vintage 2012, took home TOP PRIZE, and for Clavelinage 2021, Domaine Rolet's Cotes du Jura 2011 took TOP PRIZE.

Food Pairings with Vin Jaune Wines

Regional Jura (French) Pairings:
Comté cheese (many cheeses!), gougères, white meat or fish with cream sauce and Vin Jaune (ex: coq au Vin Jaune), asparagus, toast with mushrooms, roasted duck, lamb sirloin, snails, risotto, walnut cake.

From the Sea:
Smoked salmon, caviar, oysters, scallops, crayfish, steamed mussels

International Pairings:
Sushi, tuna tartare, ceviche, Indian tandoori, Thai green curry, chili con carne, Peking duck, paëlla, moussaka, tajine 

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