Posted by: tomciocco | May 18, 2014


It might seem like a head-scratcher but it’s just the fact that 9o+ percentage of wines made worldwide are “segregated”. When making white wines, almost no region mixes in any red grape varieties. “How can you make a white wine from red grapes” you inquire? Well, nearly all red-skinned grapes yield white juice. Red wine is produced by a process called “maceration” whereby once pressed, the resultant juice and skins are left to rest together during which time the color from the skins leaches into the juice to produce red must (juice). Similarly very, very few red wine appellations mix any white grape juice into a predominately red grape blend.

That said, there are two regions that break this rule and both (in addition to this evening’s wine) are in France. In the former scenario (red grapes employed to make white wine), the world-famous Champagne region often uses Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier juice sans any skin maceration along with Chardonnay to produce white Champagnes. In the latter case, several Northern Rhone appellations like Cote-Rotie and Crozes-Hermitage to name a couple, permit minority percentages of white grapes like Viognier or combinations of Marsanne and Roussane to leaven the deep, inkiness of Syrah.

Tonight’s exceptionally traditionally-styled wine however takes the blending of red and white grapes to truly promiscuous, anything-goes levels. This wine is a blend of literally all of the grapes that are allowed to be grown in this northerly Alpine zone, namely Trousseau, Plousard and Pinot Noir for the red grapes and Chardonnay and Savagnin for the whites that are combined “field blend” style – that is more or less willy-nilly (but always with an emphasis on the red side) according to what varieties grew best in any given vintage. But the super old-schooliness doesn’t stop there. This very pale red/very deep rose` wine is also aged for three years(!) in large-sized, used and re-used…and re-used casks.

The long and the short of the results of the combination of three red and two white grapes according to vintage conditions, plus the long aging in huge, definitely not new oak barrels ultimately delivers a very rustic yet still remarkably refined wine that serves up a quite distinct variation on a theme of a wine with each successive vintage. Would that more things and places in this world availed themselves of the benefits of such an easy-going integration like this…

I matched this very cool and layered wine with a traditional appetizer of a Gruyere cheese salad in an onion, mustard, honey, chervil and parsley vinaigrette followed by a main course of pork chops braised, long low and slow with bacon, leeks, tomato and sage with a side of pan-roasted radishes.














Chateau d’Arlay Cotes de Jura Rouge 2008

Pale and translucent brick red color. Expressive nose of smoky sour cherry, strawberry, red currant syrup, fresh juniper berries, dill, violets, honeycomb, light caramel and Graham Cracker notes. The body of the wine is light and wiry with soft tannins, a spunky, juicy acidity framing gossamer but still complex flavors of cranberry, raspberry, blood orange juice, cinnamon, and pleasant herby/vegetal notes. Long, tartly dry and sophisticated finish.



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