Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Jura, small eastern French wine region between Burgundy and Switzerland that produces an extremely wide range of wines relative to its extent, made from five main grape varieties, some unique, and including such unusual wine types as vin jaune, vin de paille, and macvin du jura, as well as a certain amount of marc du Jura. Since the late 2000s the region has caught the imagination of sommeliers and wine amateurs worldwide.

Although this was once an important wine region, with nearly 20,000 ha/49,400 acres of vines in the early 19th century, there were only about 1,900 ha of vineyards planted in 2014 out of a possible 11,000 ha for the appellation. Most vineyards are on west-facing slopes at elevations of between 250 and 450 m/820 and 1,476 ft on the foothills of the Jura mountains east of the Bresse plain. The chief town is Lons-le-Saunier, although arbois is deemed to be the wine region’s capital. Although it has a certain symmetry with the côte d’or on the other side of the Saône, the geology is quite different with various colours of clay-rich marl from the Triassic and Early Jurassic geological epochs. To limit soil erosion especially on steeper slopes, today many vineyards are partially grassed down. Vines were often traditionally trained with bended canes, but most today are in double guyot, relatively high off the ground. The climate here is even more continental than in Burgundy and winters can be very cold. There is significantly higher rainfall too.