Savagnin: The Distinctive and Diverse Star Of Jura

Venture into the world of Savagnin, a grape variety that’s a true hidden treasure in the wine universe. Savagnin (not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc) is a white grape variety native to the Jura region in France. It’s the backbone of some of the most unique and intriguing wines in the world, including the famous Vin Jaune.

A Brief History

Savagnin’s roots can be traced back to the ancient Traminer family of grapes, with a history that spans centuries in the Jura region. It has been cultivated under different names and clones, but it’s in Jura where Savagnin has truly made its mark, expressing the terroir’s distinctive characteristics.


Savagnin is a late-ripening variety, known for its ability to withstand harsh conditions and its susceptibility to noble rot, which can be advantageous in certain winemaking styles. The grape is renowned for its high acidity and potential for long aging.

Flavour Profile

Savagnin wines are notable for their rich, complex flavor profile. They often exhibit flavors of green apple, citrus, and nuts, with a distinctive earthy or mineral undertone. When aged, they develop deep, nutty, and sometimes oxidative characters that are highly prized by connoisseurs.

Different Styles of Wines

Savagnin is incredibly versatile and is used to produce several distinct styles of wine:

  • Vin Jaune: Perhaps the most famous style, made by aging the wine under a layer of yeast, similar to Sherry, resulting in a unique, nutty, and complex profile.
  • Traditional White: Fermented without the yeast veil, these wines are fresher, showcasing the grape’s natural acidity and fruitiness.
  • Dessert Wines: Savagnin can be used in sweet wines, especially when affected by noble rot, adding depth and complexity.

Winemaking and Maturation Options

The winemaking process for Savagnin varies greatly depending on the desired style. For Vin Jaune, the wine is aged in barrels under a layer of yeast for several years, leading to its distinctive character. In contrast, fresher styles might see shorter aging periods in stainless steel or neutral oak to preserve the grape’s natural flavors.

Important Regions

  • Jura, France: The heartland of Savagnin, where it expresses the full range of its potential, particularly in the Arbois and Château-Chalon appellations.
  • Switzerland: Known as Heida or Païen in some parts, producing crisp, aromatic wines.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Savagnin pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes, thanks to its versatility:

  • Vin Jaune: Excellent with rich, creamy dishes or traditional Comté cheese.
  • Traditional White Savagnin: Pairs well with seafood, chicken in creamy sauces, and vegetarian dishes.
  • Dessert Styles: Complement sweet wines with fruit desserts or foie gras for a luxurious experience.

Savagnin is a grape variety that offers a journey into some of the wine world’s most unique and captivating styles. From the nutty depths of Vin Jaune to the fresh, vibrant traditional whites, Savagnin is a testament to the diversity and richness of French viticulture. For those willing to explore beyond the usual white wine offerings, Savagnin presents an enchanting array of tastes and experiences. So, uncork a bottle of Savagnin and prepare to be whisked away to the picturesque landscapes of Jura.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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