Presse 2014

Meet the winemaker: Philippe Vandelle of Domaine Philippe Vandelle, Jura… 11 February 2014.
BW: What is distinctive about your style of winemaking – what are you trying to achieve?

PV: We have a very distinct style of winemaking in Jura and the vinification is very different for the whites and reds. For the whites, we use a classic, temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts, before the unique ageing process in old barrels. We never use new oak. The reds, which account for 10% of our total production, undergo a short fermentation (around 10 days) to preserve the delicate aromas of trousseau and poulsard.

BW: Your family has been making wines for a long time – seven generations. How has the approach to winemaking changed during that time?

PV: That’s right, our family has a long history of winemaking. The approach has changed very little: we produce wines in a traditional way and this is very much the style of our wines.BW: How was this year’s harvest?

PV: Overall, I’m very pleased with the harvest, although the yields were much lower this year. We had a poor spring, which meant the vines struggled during flowering, but the weather was superb during ripening and harvest.

BW: Some of Jura’s grapes will be unfamiliar to people in the UK. How would you describe them?

PV: Savagnin – The grape is quite small and it ripens quite late, so we have to be patient – the 2013 harvest took place on 20th September. To make vin jaune we have to wait for the grapes to reach maximum ripeness.

Poulsard – poulsard produces quite small fruit, too, with a thin skin. It has similarities with pinot in aromas.

Trousseau – trousseau produces much bigger berries and the wine is a very pale red, or even a dark rosé. It has a delicate floral aromas, with red fruits.

BW: There seems to be some similarities between wines of Burgundy and Jura. How do they compare as winegrowing regions?

PV: We share a similar sedimentary soil as Burgundy – a poor marl which makes the vines bury deep into the rock formation. And of course, we use Burgundy barrels. Jura is slightly cooler, however, benefiting from the cool air from the surrounding mountains.

BW: Can you explain the difference between the vin jaune method and that for producing fino sherry? How does it affect the finished product?

PV: The wine spends six years ageing in barrel. During this time, we never top up so the wine begins to concentrate as it evaporates from the barrel. Also, we don’t add any spirit to the wine to stop the fermentation.

BW: What is your favourite food pairings for your range of wines – what would you have them with?

We have some fantastic poultry in the region. Chicken in a cream sauce is a wonderful pairing. And the comté is a must-try, of course.

BW: Jura wines are well known for their ageing potential. What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar?

PV: That’s true. I’d say vin jaune really starts to show it’s best after 10-15 years. We have some vin jaune in the cellar from 1893.