“Named after the grandfather of the current generation, the 2016 A Table Avec Léandre is sold as Vin de France, as it’s produced with eleven old grape varieties from the Jura that predate the creation of the appellation but that are nowadays very rare and not contemplated by the appellation of origin’s rules. All the grapes are found together in the vineyard in a young plot planted in 2011, and all the grapes were picked and fermented together. It has a nose of wild herbs, flowers and berries, full of character. This is very different and original, very precise and surprisingly sharp and focused, very unique for an unfiltered and unsulfured wine. 1,500 bottles produced.” 92 Points, Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate #234, Dec 2017
Domaine Pignier is an estate steeped in history dating back to the 13th century when Calthusian monks first started making wine in the village of Montaigu. After the French Revolution, the monks were forced into exile, and the estate was sold to the Pignier family in 1794.
The vineyard are located on the slopes of Montaigu in the Côtes du Jura appellation area which is about 40 km south of Arbois. The estate is in the hands of Maria Florence and her two brothers Antoine and Jean Etienne. The Pigniers are strongly rooted in Biodynamics – certified by both Demeter and Ecocert – and are one of the few properties to grow, dry and prepare the majority of all of their BD preps and tisanes at the estate, using rain water collected by large underground cisterns. They employ a crew of 10 people to fastidiously work the vines and apply the preps on the various parcels that total 15 Ha. This ratio of vineyard workers to hectares is more similar to the very top estates in much higher-rent appellations rather than the humble Jura.
The village of Montaigu, is perched on a rocky hill-peak and is bordered by two gorges, the Val de Sorne and Val de Vallière. These slopes are ideal for cultivating vines, as proven by geological studies that show a mix of clay and limestone in the soils. Being the only wine growers in the village, the Pigniers are ideally placed to tend their vines with biodynamic methods and preserve the numerous strains of wild yeast present in the environment. Characteristics of the local environment include a microclimate created by the gorges, the presence of protective slopes and thickets, and the considerable diversity of the surrounding flora and fauna. The vineyards sit at altitudes between 250m & 350m above sea level in the foothills of the Jura Mountains.
Given the efforts to produce high quality fruit in the vineyards there can be no question of excessive intervention in the cellar. They follow the Demeter Winemaking Standard of no added sugar or yeast, or any other winemaking additives, and little or no SO2. The wines are aged in oak barrels in the 700-year-old cellar. They only make wine from fruit that they grow themselves.
They produce a range of wines in both red and white, starting with the sous voile (under the veil) wines, in both Savignin and Chardonnay. In this traditional vinification technique found throughout the Jura, the wines are aged in barrel for an extended period without topping them up. After fermentation, a thin film of yeast, like the flor in Sherry wines, forms on the surface which protects the wine from oxidation and gives the wines their distinct nutty, Sherry-like aromas. The ultimate sous-voile wine, of course, is the Vin Jaune which is aged for seven years in their cool damp cellars which date from the 13th century (see pic at bottom of page). The Pigniers also make ouillé wines, aged in barrels that are topped up as in Burgundy and other regions, in both Chardonnay (called “A La Percenette”) and Savignin (“Sauvageon”). On the red side, they produce wonderful, delicately fruity and perfumed Trousseau and Pinot Noir, as well as minute quantities of Poulsard.
The vineyards are pruned very short, with yields on most vineyards between 25-28 Hl/Ha. The grapes are all hand-harvested, and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The white wines are fermented in mostly used, 228-litre burgundy barrels (5-10% new maximum), and aged for 12-18 months for the ouillé wines and 3-4 years for the sous voile wines. Bottling occurs without filtration. For the reds, the wines are fermented in tank, and then transferred to a mix of mostly used Burgundy barrels and 600-litre demi-muids. They are then transferred to tank after a period of 6-12 months to clarify naturally, and then (in general) bottled without fining and filtration.