Jura / France
These are the fossil strewn, rugged yet green and inviting slopes of the southern-most part of the Jura wine growing region. Here, high cliffs tumble into tight gorge-like valleys leaving combes of limestone rubble and clay on the high slopes and deep grey, blue and red marls further down. There is also shiste here. This is white wine country for the most part, where an abundance of active limestone gives drive, length and purity to Chardonnay and Savagnin.
Peggy and Jean-Pascal Buronfosse both trained in agriculture, but it was Peggy who first realised it was through vines and viticulture that she would best be able to express her personality; vivacious and life-loving she is, in no uncertain terms ! They were living in Rotalier, surrounded by Jurassien stardom (Ganevat, Labet), so the call of wine was probably unavoidable.
She began working for a local producer, then eventually managed to take over her own tiny vineyards in the early 2000s. By 2013, they managed to develop their reputation and commerce to such a point that Jean-Pascal could quit his teaching job and move full time to work on the family farm.
Domaine Buronfosse is now roughly 4 ha of vines, predominantly white, all farmed by hand or with the help of their draft horse and a mini ride-on farm buggy (tractor is too big a word for this little tread-wheel-mobile). The vineyards are certified organic, but the work is much more than that in reality. Recent work has been on maintaining their very old vines (those which survived the rigorous conversion to natural farming) and replanting the lost souls.
Replanting is done according to what I believe to be the most important aspect of agriculture at the moment; co-plantation. By that, we mean not planting single clones of a grape variety, and not even planting a mix of clones, but actually planting different varieties all together, mixed, in the one field. The intention is to exponentially increase biodiversity (despite seeking to harvest a mono-culture) in order to generate a healthier farm ecosystem which requires less inputs, has more natural biological balance and protection from pests and disease. This creates a virtuous cycle; less inputs = healthier soils = healthier plants = even less inputs = healthier grapes = tastier wine = etc. etc. This can only be achieved through ultra rigorous hard work in the vineyard by hand over many years, of course.
So good. Some of the best natural Jura I have tasted in a long time and are everything you expect from the region.
The whites are rich and flavoursome, full of complexity and depth. The red wines are light, pure and fresh, sitting at 10.5% alcohol but with plenty of depth and fruit flavour. It has been a while since I enjoyed a wine from Jura as much as I have enjoyed these wines.
There were only 3 dozen of these wines available nationally. If you are interested I would move fast.
I’ve known Peggy and Jean-Pascal since 2012, and have shared some great bottles with them, and danced many a long night away by the bonfire along with the revellers of Jura’s epic wine festivals. I’ll also never forget the night when, along with a few other local vignerons and a wedge of hard cheese, we shared a Magnum of 1982 Coulée de Serrant. I’m so happy to be finally, again, able to work with Peggy and Jean-Pascal’s wines, and to share them with you. They’re just awesome people, and the wines embody their passion for life.