Our little secret, the Jura, is over. It's hard enough that now the wines of JF Ganevat are impossible to get hold of. It's aggravating as hell that a bottle of Overnoy-H is as rare as hen's teeth. But now is even a more esoteric genre of wine going to become the next big thing, only because so far it has been so undesirable it's safe from counterfeiting?
This morning, the news came into my in-box that a 1774 bottle of Vin Jaune was going to be sold at Geneva. The bottle was front and center, it was the prize on the same page as DRC and Mouton.
I've seen some oldish Chateau Chalon up for sale in the past (all well under $1000 a bottle),with the biggest drop coming in from Los Angeles. But their surfacing are the bargain bottles geeks hope to find, you know the runts that the others throw back into the river. This kind of prominent advertising is a first. Of course the staggering age helps.
But whether someone else is going to dump a lot of dough for an old bottle of Vin Jaune, a wine people don't know about, is questionable. Most assume the Jura is a distilling island off of Scotland, not the independent-minded region nestled between Dijon and Switzerland, north of the Alps, separating the Rhone and the Rhine, a region that has been ignoring the international markets and styles, mostly because they themselves have been ignored.
Christies never mentioned in that release that another 1774 from the same producer went for 57,000€ at the annual Percée du Vin in 2011, even though they're projecting it will go for the same amount. Wink Lorch has a very nice report of that sale, as well as in this season's World of Fine Wine. Nice trivia: there are seven more bottles. She also mentions that the wine was assumed to be VJ, because back then, Vin Jaune was a perjorative and the wine was referred to as Vin de Garde.
They might have not mentioned it because like the rest of the world, they might not actually know what the wine is. According to the press release and their site,
"This extraordinary bottle of Vin Jaune is probably the oldest unfortified example of what is to be still an astounding wine and another true rarity for wine lovers and connoisseurs.”
Vin Jaune is not fortified.
Maybe they know that and needed an editor to bring out the meaning of that sentence. Perhaps they mean that it is the best example they know of the long aging ability of an unfortified wine. I'll allow that, but just in case they don't, Vin Jaune, otherwise known by some as the crack, is a highly addictive taste, made from the spectacular grape, savagnin--harvested late. From there, it is made like any wine, sur voile, left unattended so, like sherry, develops a layer of yeast on top which both protects the wine from spoilage and also transforms the fresh fruit flavors into nutty, secondary ones. Unlike modern sherry, the wine is pure grape. By law, the wine may not be sold until six years and three months after harvest.
One of the recent one's I've loved? Domaine de la Tournelle 2002. I see the 2003 is around, as yet untasted. Given the heat of that vintage, I'll be quite curious to give it a go.
I'll be watching this with interest. While it is expected to go for $70 or so, the 1945 Mouton and the 1959 La Tache--with the high risk of fake involved--are expected to go higher.
Yet, I'm banking on the fact that few other than Paris-based collector François Audouze, has the money or the desire for this, status-free, except -for -its -age bottle, and without the frenzy of the Percée behind it. I bet it is picked up for a relative bargain. Or so we can only hope. Because if it flies, if collectors start to know the geography of a region most critics ignore, who knows what will happen in the ploussard market next.