What Is Vin Jaune? A Unique Jewel In The World of Wine

Vin Jaune, translating to “yellow wine,” is a distinctive and extraordinary wine hailing from the Jura region of France. It’s a wine that challenges the palate and intrigues the mind, steeped in tradition and boasting a unique production process. Let’s uncork the story of Vin Jaune and discover what makes it such a special and often sought-after wine.

The Origin and Making of Vin Jaune

Vin Jaune is produced exclusively in the Jura region, located in eastern France, near the Swiss border. The key grape variety used is Savagnin, a relative of the more widely known Traminer grape.

The process of making Vin Jaune is unlike any other. After the grapes are harvested and fermented, the wine is aged in oak barrels. However, it’s what happens during this aging that sets Vin Jaune apart.

Vin Jaune is aged in barrels for a minimum of six years and three months, significantly longer than most wines. During this time, a crucial element of its production occurs – the formation of a yeast layer called ‘voile’ at the surface of the wine.

This voile layer, similar to the flor in Sherry production, partially protects the wine from oxidation. However, unlike Sherry, Vin Jaune is not fortified. The voile imparts unique flavors to the wine, contributing to its distinctive nutty and yeasty character.

Vin Jaune is bottled in a special 62-cl bottle known as a ‘clavelin’. This unique size reflects the amount of wine left after the extended aging and evaporation (the ‘angels’ share’) from a standard 75-cl bottle.

The Flavor Profile of Vin Jaune

Vin Jaune is renowned for its intense, complex flavors and aromas. It often displays notes of nuts (especially walnuts), dried fruits, spices, and an unmistakable yeasty, almost cheesy character. On the palate, it is rich and concentrated with a striking balance between acidity and depth, and it can age for decades, developing even more complexity.

Pairing and Enjoyment

Vin Jaune pairs wonderfully with the regional cuisine of the Jura, including Comté cheese, poultry, and rich, creamy dishes. Its intensity and complexity make it versatile with a wide range of foods, especially those with a pronounced umami flavor.

It’s best served lightly chilled, around 50-55°F (10-13°C). Given its intensity, Vin Jaune is often enjoyed in smaller quantities, much like a fine Scotch.

Vin Jaune is an interesting wine that speaks of its terroir and the unique winemaking traditions of the Jura region. It’s a wine that doesn’t just cater to the taste buds but also offers a rich historical and sensory experience. For those adventurous in their wine exploration, Vin Jaune presents an opportunity to delve into a wine that is both ancient in its methods and timeless in its appeal.

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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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