Our third stop on the Jura route du vin is the A.O.C. of l’Étoile. Located approximately 5km from the main hub of Lons-le-Saunier (home of La Vache Qui Rit processed cheese), this second smallest appellation in the Jura obtained A.O.C status in 1937. Presently the total surface area planted to vineyards is only 75 hectares, or approximately 185 acres. It is small!
The origin of the name l’Étoile derives from one of two sources (depending upon whom you ask). Surrounding the town of Étoile are 5 distinct hills, thereby signifying the five points on a star, or in french, l’Étoile. Or perhaps the region got it’s name due to the tiny, star-like marine fossils which can be found scattered throughout the vineyards of the region. Who knows? Both stories seem to make perfect sense to me.
This is an appellation that has no shortage of traditionally styled, oxidative wines which make the Jura so distinctive in the world of wine.
In l’Étoile A.O.C. production of the types of wines are permitted:
Sweet Wine –Vin de Paille
In l’Étoile A.O.C. production of the varietals are permitted:
Red: Poulsard (Ploussard) –for vin de paille only
White: Chardonnay, Savagnin
Wine/Producer: Domaine de Montbourgeau
Composition: mostly Chardonnay –with a touch of savagnin from select parcels
Sub-Region/A.O.C. : l’Étoile
Geology/Soil: Limestone, Blue-gray Marl, Clay.
Importer: Neal Rosenthal
US Retail: $23
Domaine de Montbourgeau could be considered the poster child for wines from the Jura produced in the classic, old school style. The domaine is small, (the estate is merely 8 hectares in size) however big things can come in small packages. Vigneronne and present owner Nicole Dériaux crafts a range of judiciously oxidized and precise wines that possess tons of character and integrity.
Take this 2006 Blanc (the current release). Orchard fruits like apples and bosc pears are tempered by distinct notes of hazelnuts and delicate savory notes. All with a laser like precision and intensity that keep this wine incredibly vibrant and crisp. This is a food wine to be sure. Perhaps a classic cheese fondue, or roasted chicken with a side of Comté and sweet potato soufflé. Anyone?