The department of Jura lies in eastern France, in Franche-Comté between the Burgundian Côte d'Or and Switzerland.
Only five varieties of grape are penuitted Ior the prod uction of AOC (guarantee of origin) wines. Chardonnay, imported in the fourteenth century from neighbouring Burgundy, represents about 45% of the vines planted. This is an easily cultivated grape that usually ripens fully without difficulty around mid-September, containing plenty of sugars and therefore potentially a high level of alcohol, that produces very floral, fruity, and generous French wines.
The Savagnin (15% of the total) is highly regarded locally. This is a native vine and this local variant of the Traminer produces the finest wines to come from the Jura, the famous vins jaunes. This late ripening grape is often harvested as late as the end of October.
The Pinot Nair was also brought from Burgundy, but in the fifteenth century for French wine. These grapes ripen quickly and are full of flavour but are virtually never used on their own but in combination with the Poulsard to impart more colour and body. Trousseau (5%) is also a native variety which thrives well on warm sandy soil in the northern part of the Jura. This vine blossoms fairly late and produces very colourful and concentrated juice. Trousseau wines(French wine) reach an unprecedented level of maturity after being laid down in a cool cellar for ten years. Unfortunately this wine is extremely rare and little known. If you get the chance to taste it you should certainly do so.
Finally, the Poulsard (20%), a native vine with grapes that impart a fine pale red colour to their wine that contains many fruity and unusual aromas. Poulsard is used to make light red wines but also for roses such as the famous Pupillin Rosé.
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The vineyards of the Rhone extend from just below Lyon as far south as Avignon straddling both sides of the river but not continuously. In the north, the vineyard belt is rarely more than a few hundred yards wide, while in the south the vineyards stretch out into the widening valleys.
The northern vineyards are hot and rocky and all the famous red wines are produced from the Syrah grape, while in the south where many of the wines are blended there have been enormous improvements in the past few years.