Romancing the Jura: Vin Jaune ‪and Roast Chicken

Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬

Romancing the Jura is part of the Valentine’s edition of Wine Pairing Weekend ‪#‎winePW‬. Check out the other romantical recipes after my post. Santé! 

Since my move to Italy in 2013 we have done our share of road trips, and it seems those roads usually lead to French wine regions. I’m not complaining. In addition to good wine we get fantastic cheese, copious amounts of duck, delectable foie gras, and gorgeous scenery. I’m pretty smitten with France.

When Il Marito brought up the Jura I was skeptical. His selling point was its obscurity. “They make weird, oxidized wines,” he said. Really? We are hours from incredible French wines regions like Burgundy, the Rhone, Alsace, Champagne, and he wants to taste oxidized wine in an area no one knows about? I debated if this was the time to play the “I-moved-from-Colorado” card.

Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪

I’m glad I didn’t. The Jura is amazing. It’s romantic, beautiful, and endlessly enchanting. And, those oxidized wines? Wow. Just wow. I’m sort of obsessed. They are amazing to drink and incredible for cooking; it was an easy choice for my Valentine’s Day food and wine pairing post.

Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬

While we were there we had the famous Bresse Chicken in Vin Jaune sauce. Immediately I insisted I could make it (with a Piemontese chicken, natch). So, I did.

Light some candles, open a bottle of Chateau-Chalon Vin Jaune, and your romantic dinner is served. But, first, here are some details on the Jura and its wines. Let the romance begin.

Get to know the Jura

The Jura vineyards reside along the foothills of the Jura mountains. The small area spans 80 km / 50 miles in the Revermont region. It’s only abut 50 km / 32 miles from Burgundy, so the climate and grape selection are similar, but the winemaking styles are distinctly different.

Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬

The Jura is the birthplace to famed scientist Louis Pasteur, the namesake for pasteurization, developer of the rabies and anthrax vaccines, and the man who discovered the process for fermentation. He’s kind of a big deal in the history of wine.

The Pasteur Museum in Arbois
A statue of Louis Pasteur in Arbois. Check out Pasteur’s house, The Pasteur Museum in Arbois.

In addition to Mr. Pasteur, the Jura is also home to France’s mostly widely produced cheese, Comté, made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Kind of ironic given the region’s most famous resident is named for pasteurization.

Comté is a hard mountain cheese that is aged “in the silence and darkness of special caves” for four to 18 or 24 months. To wear the Comté name it must come from specifically delimited production zones.

Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬

The Jura Wines

The Jura’s le petit village of Arbios is a must stop on the area’s wine trail. If you can’t get in to see a producer you can visit any of the 10+ tasting rooms that are just steps apart. Arbois has an anchor in French wine making history as the first to be awarded the French AOC label.

The Jura has five primary grape varieties. Two whites: Chardonnay, Savagnin; and three reds: Ploussard, Pinot Noir, and Trousseau. For the purpose of brevity we’ll focus on the whites as that is where the wine making methods get interesting.

Did you know? In the Jura you taste the red wines first, then the powerful whites. The wine making style explains why.

In the Jura, Chardonnay and Savagnin are produced as a single variety wine or a blend in one of two styles.

Floral and refined as the region calls them, these wines are primarily Chardonnay done in a traditional aging method. Natural evaporation occurs during barrel aging, so winemakers ‘top-off’ to safeguard against air contact. These wines are refined and elegant with hints of minerality. When Savagnin is done in this style the wine shows exotic aromas.

Traditional and powerful is what to expect when you taste these wines in the traditional Jura wine making style. Winemakers don’t top-off the wine barrels facilitating oxygen contact with the wine. A film of yeast develops on the surface giving the wine its unique, intense flavors. Often, Chardonnay is blended with the Savagnin to add finesse to the more traditional Jura notes of the Savagnin. During our visit one producer explained that to make a good blend the Savagnin must be older than the Chardonnay. That means that the blends are often not vintage.

A secret of alchemy is how the region explains its powerful Vin Jaune. Named after its golden yellow color, Vin Jaune is made only of the Savagnin grape in a process similar to that of fino sherry.

Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬
Vin Jaune is in a 620 ml bottle; Every barrel liter equates to 620 ml after natural evaporation, which is why the Vin Jaune bottle is smaller.
Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬
Vin Juane, called the ‘gold of Jura’, gets its name from the golden yellow color.

After fermentation it ages in small oak barrels for a minimum of 6 years, 3 months; the winemaker does not touch the wine. By design the barrels are lightly porous and not airtight. The process results in the aforementioned natural evaporation causing that thin film of yeast to form over the surface; this protects against excessive oxidation. That yeast is responsible for the tastes of walnut, hazelnut, almond, and spice on the palate. Every barrel liter equates to 620 ml after natural evaporation, which is why the Vin Jaune bottle is smaller. The wine is best served at room temperature between 57F / 14C and 61F / 16C.

One of the most well-known expressions comes out of the teeny tiny village of Chateau-Chalon, where Vin Jaune originated. A wine with the “Chateau-Chalon” name on the label can only be a Vin Jaune.

Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬
Old Chateau-Chalon vines used to make Vin Jaune. A wine label bearing the village name can only be Vin Jaune.
Romancing the Jura: Roast Chicken and Vin Jaune ‪#‎winePW‬
Ancient Caveau door in Chateau-Chalon

There are many great recipes that incorporate Vin Jaune or Savagnin. Today, I am supplying you with Roast Chicken in Vin Jaune sauce.

Finish the meal with Comté cheese in true French fashion.

Let me know what you think of this recipe and Vin Jaune. I can’t seem to get enough of it, so despite buying at least a dozen bottles while we were there, Il Marito and I are planning an annual pilgrimage to the Jura to keep our supply stocked.

Bon Appétit and Santé! Val

Read more on the Jura:

It’s All About Romance Wine Pairing Weekend # 9. Check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the February Wine Pairing Weekend!

Roast Chicken with Vin Jaune

Course Main Dish
Servings 4people
Prep Time 20minutes
Cook Time 1hour (plus time for soaking mushrooms)
Passive Time 10minutes

Ingredients

1.7oz dried mushroomsMorels are typical of The Jura, but we used what was available – porcini.
50 ml hazelnut oil
4lbs chickencut into 4 pieces
2/3 cup Flour
1 onionthinly sliced
1 carrotthinly sliced
4cloves garliccrushed
150ml Vin Jaune
1.4oz butter
300ml pouring cream
chervil
steamed rice

Instructions

  1. Soak mushrooms in cold water until soft (1 to 2 hours), drain well, making sure there is no grit, set aside. I add a splash of wine to the water for flavor.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C. Heat a casserole over medium-high heat, add two-thirds hazelnut oil. Dust chicken in seasoned flour, shake off excess, add to pan, seal completely until golden (6 to 8 minutes), remove and set aside. Add butter and remaining hazelnut oil to casserole, add vegetables and garlic, stir occasionally until tender (5 to 6 minutes). Lay chicken pieces over vegetables, cover with a lid, bake 20 minutes, then remove casserole from oven. Remove and discard vegetables leaving chicken in casserole. Note: We save the vegetables to make stock with the chicken bones.
  3. Place casserole over medium-high heat, add Vin Jaune and reduce by two-thirds (2 to 3 minutes), add cream and mushrooms, simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cover with a lid, turn off the heat, stand for 10 minutes.
  4. Scatter with chervil and serve with steamed rice.

Recipe Notes
Vin Jaune is a yellow wine from the Jura in France. If you cannot find it, substitute with 100ml dry white wine and 50ml dry sherry.
This recipe was adapted from the July 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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