A Guide to the Jura Through the Wines of François Rousset-Martin

By Anthony Lynch

     The Jura wine world is a fascinating, mysterious, and at times confusing one. The region’s recent surge in popularity on American wine lists lies in stark contrast with how strange its wines come across to the uninitiated, with many of its indigenous production methods and quirky winemakers requiring more than an introduction for one to fully savor their virtues. We firmly believe, however, that the pleasure at stake is well worth a slight detour to study the wild world of Jura, so we’ve put together a quick crash course to the region’s wines with a focus on a single producer to guide the way.

     François Rousset-Martin, the newest Jura vigneron to join our team, crafts a number of cuvées covering a range of styles, from the more conventional to texturally baffling wines laced with exoticism. With a creative artistry, François honors the Jura’s traditions while exploring the full spectrum of possibilities provided by terroir, grape, and élevage. He organically farms primarily Chardonnay and Savagnin on grey marl from the family vineyards beneath the stunning cliff-top town of Château-Chalon, then brings the wines to any of his many scattered small cellars dug out of the limestone bedrock. Each cellar, he reveals, is in a sense its own terroir: with variability in temperature, humidity, and native microorganisms, it can cause an entirely unique evolution in identical wines.

     This evolution in barrel will be the main determinant of the resulting style of wine. Jura tradition calls for aging whites sous voile, or under a fine “veil” of yeast that grows over wine in barrel that has not been topped-off (non ouillé) to compensate for evaporation. The voile effectively slows the process of oxidation, while chemical reactions between these microorganisms and the wine below give rise to a highly distinctive and complex set of aromas. Often hinting at walnuts, beeswax, oriental spices, cheese rind, and brine, wines aged sous voile can come as a shock to the unhabituated palate. Their textural and aromatic singularity naturally sets them in a category of their own at table, perhaps the best setting in which to gain an appreciation for such wines. High in umami, they truly shine alongside the Jura’s rich local cuisine. Wild mushrooms, creamy chicken dishes, or smoked charcuterie can be a revelatory pairing; a slab of aged Comté may be the epiphany.


     Many Jura producers also produce more conventional whites in an ouillé, or topped-off style, as is practiced in Burgundy—or for that matter, in essentially all the white wines we are accustomed to. This method preserves fresh fruit flavors without the rather rustic, often funky oxidative notes typical of wines aged sous voile. Rather than being limited to one style, François opts to have a foot in both camps: by manipulating the duration of sous voile aging and blending ouillé wines with non ouillé wines, he creates cuvées that combine attributes of both. Strangely enough, even some of his fully ouillé wines express what seem to be oxidative traits. “The voile yeast is so prolific in my cellar that it will often begin to grow on wines that have been topped off,” he explains. This uniquely Jurassic phenomenon endows his wines with a goût de terroir that no other combination of grape, soil, climate, and native microflora could achieve.

     With this guide in mind, explore the creations of Rousset-Martin for a mouth-watering adventure through the Jura’s wacky world of wine.


per bottle

2014 Côtes du Jura

“Mémée Marie” > 


2014 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay

“Terres Blanches” > 


2014 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay

“La Chaux >


2013 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Veine Bleue de Bacchus–Clos Bacchus” >


2013 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Cuvée du Professeur–Sous-Roche” >


2014 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Clos de Trus” >


2008 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Clos Bacchus Sous-Voile 7 ans” >


2005 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Sous-Roch Sous-Voile 10 ans” >


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