Don't Call It Chardonnay

Recently, the Hollywood staff had the great pleasure of tasting with Jean-François Bourdy, the 15th generation of the Caves Jean Bourdy in Jura, who, alongside his brother, are the stewards of deeply traditional Juran wine. He told the staff, “Don’t call it Chardonnay. Call it Jura white wine.” This is not a domaine who’s trying to capitalize on current wine trends. They use onl old barrels (up to 80 years old), old techniques, and have a library of old wines dating back to 1865. This tradition, coupled with some of the best terroir in Jura, makes these wines truly exceptional.

Taylor Wilcox of Veritas Imports recently visited and sent back some wonderful pictures of this domaine, which, despite its deep history, is thriving and full of life. They are moving forward—in 2006 they were certified biodynamic. And currently, the 16th generation—and seventh woman—is getting ready to take the reins. Below is a visual story of Taylor’s travels.

Taylor: The actual vineyards you are seeing are Château Chalon. You can see that the terroir has a grey/blue hue in the marl—this what makes Château Chalon so special and rare. On the top of the hill is an old abbey that was completely destroyed during the French revolution sadly. It was here that Bourdy's family was given the recipe for the Gallant des Abbesses—Bourdy still has the actual recipe framed! It's from the late 1500's!

I think what makes them special is that they are traditionalists and genuinely one of the oldest domaines in the world—they have deep reverence for their heritage and would not dare make a "fresh Savagnin" and such. The brother DID convert the domaine to biodynamic farming after they took over from their father. Their dad was displeased about it but literally the day the he died he told the brothers that he really could see improvement and was proud they had taken the risk to practice this kind of farming.  

They have bought a few more parcels in Château Chalon recently but aren't using the grapes until the farming is up to par—vines experience great shock when you switch them to organic farming so you have to ease them into it.

In the cellar there is a family tree of all the family members who were the winemakers—dating back to the 1400's—what's really moving to me is that there are six women listed throughout the centuries who were the heads of the domaine. Laura is going to be the seventh. I did meet Laura, Bourdy's daughter—I don't have a pic!?! I can't believe it. She started at the domaine last year and will take over in the next two years. Jean-Francois Bourdy (whom the K&L Hollywood team met) helps run the domaine, but it's his brother, Jean-Phillippe, who is the winemaker. Laura is studying with him. Laura is going to bring a breath of fresh air to the domaine. She is serious about continuing on the legacy but she is very curious, and I won't be surprised if she adds new wines in the future.  She is experimenting with an all-Poulsard right now just to study it.

In the later pics—you can see I'm back at Château Chalon—but it's SPRING!  These pics are from when I was there just two weeks ago. They are burning old branches and the buds were just starting to bloom—it was magical.

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We are so pleased to welcome Taylor to our Hollywood tasting bar on Thursday to pour these benchmark Jura wines. Please join us! 5:30 to 7 PM $5.

- Kate Soto