Savagnin is a thick skinned, non aromatic white variety with high acidity and notes of citrus and apple.
It is also known as Traminer, not to be confused with Gewurztraminer (they bear little to no resemblance) though they are related. It is planted most widely in the Jura region of France, where it is either blended with Chardonnay or produced as a single varietal wine. It can be made into Cremant du Jura, Jura Blanc and Vin Jaune.
Savagnin can be produced in two styles. Ouillé wines are topped up in barrel as they age, ensuring that the wine has limited exposure to oxygen and retains its primary fruit characters. Sous Voile wines are left to age under a veil of flor, in a similar process to Fino or Manzanilla sherry. The finished wine however, tends to be richer, more powerful and more structured than either of those examples.
Vin Jaune or ‘Yellow wine’ is the most distinctive expression of Savagnin. It must be fermented to dry and aged sous voile for approximately 6 years, with no ‘topping up’ allowed. A portion of the wine evaporates over this time, and the finished product is bottled in 620ml bottles called ‘clavelins’. Vin Jaune is characterised by nutty, curry leaf aromas and saline minerality. They are deeply savoury and are incredibly long lived. Chateau Chalon is an appellation within the Vin Jaune category and is often said to produce the finest examples in the style.
Typically speaking oxidative or sous voile styles of Savagnin work well with comté cheese and charcuterie. Fresher ouillé wines work well with roast chicken or mushroom dishes but are fairly versatile.