A (famous) new name in Jura


14 April 2022 We're republishing this first report on the new outpost of Domaine Marquis d'Angerville to draw attention to today's review of the domaine's particularly exciting 2020s, in the process of being released. See also these subsequent articles featuring Domaine du Pélican.

18 February 2013 Wink Lorch, author of Jura Wine, writes:

The first barrels of Arbois wines vinified by Guillaume, Marquis d'Angerville, of Volnay are just going through malolactic conversion and there was an undercurrent of excitement as the Marquis and his oenologist François Duvivier (pictured left here) recently drew samples of the 2012s for an American importer and me to taste, the first outsiders to do so. Although the Jura estate includes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Volnay producer has never worked with the local Savagnin, Poulsard or Trousseau varieties before. What's more, they took over the vineyards only two months before harvest, so there were many unknowns..

Marquis Guillaume d'Angerville states that his ambition is to be a Jura vigneron and he has given his new estate the name Domaine du Pélican in a symbolic reference to the pelican on the Arbois town crest. Having purchased around 10 hectares in AOC Arbois in two separate deals, he plans to end up with around 15 ha, the same size as the Volnay estate. This is the size that François Duvivier, the d'Angerville régisseur for almost 10 years, says can be managed well with a small, focused and disciplined team drawn from the region.

After meeting and speaking with d'Angerville and Duvivier I was left with the impression of a technical and detailed approach to all aspects of the project, but d'Angerville describes his early experiences of Jura as 'emotional'. The story started with a bottle of Stéphane Tissot's Arbois Chardonnay, Les Bruyères 2005 served to him and his wife blind at the Paris restaurant Taillevent, a favourite haunt. The d'Angervilles challenged the sommelier, saying he had broken the rule that he should never serve them Burgundy – they actually thought the wine was a Meursault or from nearby. Impressed and intrigued, they made several incognito visits to the Jura, buying Tissot's and other wines to taste again blind. They became convinced it was worth buying in the region.

As d'Angerville knew little of the Jura terroir, he engaged the geologist Yves Hérody, a well-known advocate of biodynamic methods as practised by d'Angerville in Volnay, and based in the Jura region. They particularly wanted to find vineyards suitable for the two Jura white grapes – Chardonnay and Savagnin. Despite there being many offers, it took them from 2009 to 2012 to find a vineyard they wanted buy. Sites rejected were either too windy, too wet or too exposed. D'Angerville points out that the Jura has almost twice as much rainfall as Burgundy and although temperatures are not that different, there can be more wind due to the hilly nature of the terrain.

In July last year they signed a deal with François de Chavannes of Château de Chavannes in the village of Montigny-les-Arsures, literally around the corner from StéphaneTissot, Jacques Puffeney and several other prominent Jura vignerons. D'Angerville bought the Chavannes vineyards and took over those on long-term contract, a total of 5 ha, and also purchased the vinification equipment, renting the building from Chavannes.

Chavannes was originally from Jura but had left to pursue a career in films. On his retirement at 60, he decided to return, restoring the old family house and converting it into a rather plush bed and breakfast, as well as creating a wine estate. His model was Burgundy and from the start he used biodynamic cultivation methods. D'Angerville notes that the vineyard was in very good condition when they took it over. In addition, Chavannes had not stinted in creating an immaculate small cellar with a modern temperature-control system – better, says d'Angerville, than they have in Volnay. Chavannes has no successors interested in taking on the wine estate, and was saddled with high stocks too, having not marketed his wines well. Hence the sale.

There are four separate plots, all but one planted by Chavannes 12 years ago on land that had not had vines since before phylloxera, so was never touched by chemicals. The two main plots are Le Clos, close to the château, and Barby (known also as Le Barbi) not far away, both predominantly clay marls with gravel in parts. In all there is about 50% white grapes with both Chardonnay and Savagnin; the 50% red includes 1.5 ha of Pinot Noir, not a priority grape for d'Angerville. The aim eventually is to have around 75% white, and the red portion should comprise no more than half Pinot.

Just a few months after the first purchase, d'Angerville was offered another 5 ha on the edge of the town of Arbois on a single prestigious south-east-sloping plot named Grand Curoulet, next to La Mailloche (prized by fans of Stéphane Tissot's Chardonnays). This was being sold by Jean-Marc Brignot, a well-known natural wine producer, who has now left the area and who had first purchased the vineyard in 2004 from Arbois producer Robert Aviet, who was retiring.

The vineyard had not originally been organic, but over its life few chemicals have been used. Unfortunately Brignot's natural approach in the cellar as well as in the vineyard was, according to d'Angerville, 'simply to do nothing'. Hence the vineyard is in a poor condition, and also needs new drainage. Thus half is being grubbed up, but the other half, including old Poulsard and Savagnin vines, planted in the 1960s, can be rescued. Duvivier hopes to be able to get a decent crop in 2014.

In Volnay, all their vines are within about 2 km of each other, and the aim in Arbois is for the same. The important thing in biodynamic farming, Duvivier told me, is to be able to treat all their vineyards with, for example, a silica preparation, in less than two hours. Hence they are looking for a further 5 ha in the area between Arbois and Montigny, and also searching for a base, preferably an old Jurassien farm, for their own winery as the Chavannes winery is not large enough for the long term.

D'Angerville and Duvivier are cautiously optimistic that they will be able to bottle and sell their first wines from 2012 under the new Domaine du Pélican label. Certainly they will do this only if entirely satisfied that quality is very high. The wines are made using Burgundian methods, though d'Angerville seems eager in future to experiment with ageing sous voile (under surface yeast) as is traditional in Jura.

From barrel the reds showed an excellent purity of fruit and I particularly enjoyed a fresh and juicy Trousseau from Le Clos and another more intense one from nearby Barby – the village of Montigny is particularly prized for its Trousseau wines. Chardonnays showed good potential, with classic Jura minerality and elegance emerging, and we tasted a deep, rich Savagnin (topped-up rather than oxidative) again from the Barby vineyard, which Duvivier claims would be a grand cru if it were in Burgundy.

The plan is to sell the wines through the existing Domaine d'Angerville channels worldwide and it is obvious that no effort is being spared by the Marquis to build Domaine du Pélican into a top-level Jura estate. Like other visitors to Jura, he has fallen for the landscape, the terroir and above all the generosity of the people; unlike others he has the means at his disposal and a wealth of experience to create something special.

The Mâconnais-based négociant Jean Rijckaert should be credited with being the first modern incomer from Burgundy that I know of to make wines from Jura vineyards, too. Another interesting recent arrival is Emmanuel Laurent, previously oenologist for Antonin Rodet, who has taken over as technical director at Henri Maire under the new ownership of this large estate. Will others from Burgundy follow? There are certainly vineyards and even established estates available, but I've heard no solid rumours.

Wink Lorch is currently writing a book on the Jura wine region to be published next year. Her Jura-specific blog is at www.jurawine.co.uk

Good news for those of us in the UK is that the Jura vignerons have apparently just decided to visit London in the same way as they have systematically visited North America, as explained in Jura – the next small thing? – JR.