When you spend 30 years of your life with a wine guy you learn a thing or two…. whether you want to or not. Red, white, champagne, rose. Got it! But Vin Jaune? Yellow wine? This I had to see. And taste.
The sommelier presented the special Clavelin bottle and poured me a glass. It was unexpected magic, reminding me of a sophisticated sherry.
He explained. This wine comes from the Jura region in eastern France; made from late harvested Savagnin grapes. Huh? No, I did not misunderstand his French. Nor is that a typo. The grapes belong to the Traminer family, just like those used to make Gewurztraminer.
The production starts in the typical way until the wine is between 12 and 18 months old when it is moved into old oak burgundy barrels. Then it is just left as a layer of yeast, called voile, forms across the surface. This usually takes 1 to 3 years. Then it sits some more. The wine cocooned below the yeast stops oxidizing and develops its unique color and taste.
It also evaporates. With most wine the barrels are topped up when this happens. Not so with Vin Jaune. By the time it is bottled, in the seventh year after the harvest, about a third will have disappeared. What remains is put into smaller bottles (620 ml vs the usual 750 ml size). Legend says the evaporated portion belongs to the angels. What is left belongs to us. Try it if you have opportunity.