Behind the French menu
Bryan G. Newman
Cotes du Jura 2006
The French department of Jura is set against the Massif du Jura, the Jura mountains, and borders Switzerland’s Canton of Vaud. The French Jura is beautiful but not often visited in the summer though it is a stunning place to travel through and a magnificent way to enjoy France without hordes of tourists. The French Jura mountains are the backdrop with beautiful lakes in the center, even its Prefecture, its departmental capital, Lons-le-Saunier, has only 20,000 inhabitants.
The Jura in summer.
Lac de Vouglans.
Photograph courtesy of Jura Tourism
The Jura wakes up in the winter when it offers some of the best skiing in France. The breathtaking mountains and valleys offering excellent resorts for beginners and on up to the Transjurassienne level with competitions reserved for the very best,
The Jura in winter
The French Jura is famous for many unique cheeses, sausages, wines and more.
The Jura’s famous wines include:
Arbois AOP: Table wines including reds, rosés, and whites and their unique Savagnin Ouillé white wine.
Côtes du Jura AOP: Wines with reds, rosés, whites, vin jaune and their unique Cotes du Jura corail, coral colored wine.
Crémant du Jura AOP: These are sparkling whites and rosés mostly aged for at least 12 months and at their best at when two or three years old.
Cremant du Jura
Franche-Comté IGP: Reds, rosés, whites, and vins mousseux, lightly sparkling wines, also with reds, rosés, and whites. The new IGP regulations replace the wines previously labeled as Vin de Pays de Franche-Comté
L’Étoile AOP: A white wine.
Vin Jaune AOP: The yellow wine made with the Savagnin grape along with its most famous appellation the Vin Jaune de Château-Chalon AOP. The Savagnin grape’s name in French comes from the word sauvage meaning wild, and that indicates that the vines and grapes originally came from wild vineyards.
Vin Jaune de Château-Chalon AOC
Vin de Paille AOP: The so called, straw wine.
Marc de Jura AOP – A 40% alcohol eau de vie made in a similar manner to Italian grappa using the left over grapes, leaves, and sprigs.
Macvin AOC Liqueur AOP:: A red, rosé and white liquer.
The Jura’s wine road.
When visiting the French department of Jura makes sure you take their Route Touristique des Vins, their wine road. This wine route identifies much more than the wineries where you may taste the product, it will also show you other agricultural products including its cheeses and sausages as well as covering some of the history and geography of the area. Take a map from a French Government Tourist Information Office in your home country or ask for one via email.
The Jura has an English language website
There is a French language website on the wines of the French Jura which is easily read using Google or Bing translate apps:
The wines and Liquors from the French Jura on the menus:
Vin Jaune AOC – The yellow wine from the Jura.
The most well-known and certainly the most famous of the yellow wines of France is the Vin Jaune AOP from the Jura. This is a very aromatic aperitif or dessert wine with a nutty taste similar to a Fino sherry. Despite the taste, and unlike sherry, it is not a fortified wine. Vin Jaune has an alcohol content of 13- 15% and is aged for a minimum of six years and three months in oak barrels; then it is bottled in a uniquely shaped bottle called the Clavelin which holds 62cl of wine. The bottle’s non-standard shape is accepted in the European Union but not in the USA where the wine must be sold in 750 cl and 1lt bottles.
Vin Jaune is usually left to breathe or decanted before being offered as an aperitif or digestif at 14 ºC. If you are visiting the department of Jura during the skiing season, then during the first weekend in February, the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, try not to miss their celebration of the newest Vin Jaune. This festival moves to a different village every year, and the Jura wine website and any Tourist Information Office will tell you where the celebration is this year or next. At these celebrations, apart from tasting the new wine, they also have cooking competitions for professionals and amateurs. This annual festival is called La Percée du Vin Jaune, the piercing of the yellow wine; when they first open the barrels that have been closed for six years and three months.
The group of vintners who organize the piercing has a French language website. Using the Google and Bing translation apps makes it readable in English:
Vin Jaune AOC and the Vin Jaune de Château-Chalon AOC on French menus:
Mousse de Truite au Vin Jaune – A trout moose prepared with the Jura’s yellow wine.
Volaille De Bresse Aux Morilles Sauce Château Chalon – The exceptional AOP chicken from Bresse prepared with wild morel mushrooms and a Château Chalon Sauce made from the yellow wine from the Château-Chalon AOP.
Demi-Poire Pochée au Vin Jaune Farcie a la Chèvre Fraîche – Half a pear poached in yellow wine and stuffed with fresh goat’s cheese.
Vin de Paille – Straw wine
Vin de Paille may translate as straw wine; however, that is not how this wine will taste. The name comes from the way the grapes are prepared. At harvest time the vintners pick the best bunches of grapes and lay them on beds of straw in well-ventilated rooms. The grapes are left until December when the grape juice and its flavor will have concentrated. The sweet, concentrated, grape juice is used to make the wine which is aged in oak barrels for at least three years to produce a sweet dessert wine with a 15 –18% alcohol content. The Vin de Paille may be on the wine list as a dessert wine, but it is just as likely to be in the kitchen flavoring a sauce.
There are other wines made in a similar manner in other parts of France, and they are also called a Vins de Paille but; the most well-known is this Vin de Paille from the departement of Jura. Vin de Paille from the Jura acquires its distinctive taste from the Savagnin grape
Vin de Paille from the Jura on French menus:
Barbue Meunière, Fondue de Choux Pack-Choï, Fumet au Vin de Paille – Brill, the fish, cooked in a meunier sauce served with bok choy Chinese cabbage cooked to a pulp and flavored with a fish stock made together with the vin de paille. Sauce Meunier is one of the simplest and best sauces for white fish. The name translates as a sauce prepared in the manner of a miller’s wife. In French cuisine, there are many traditional names like this that have no direct connection to a particular dish. The sauce is made with clarified butter, lemon juice, and parsley and often the Maître D’ will prepare this sauce at the table.
Vin de Paille grapes ready to be made into wine.
Ris De Veau Rôti, Sauce au Vin de Paille Mousseline de Carottes Jaunes – Roasted veal sweetbreads served with a sauce made with the vin de paille and accompanied by young carrots prepared as a very light moose. (The word mousseline comes from the original use of muslin fabric to make fine purees before the arrival of very thin metal sieves).
Velouté De Courge au Vin de Paille –A velvety pumpkin soup flavored with vin de paille.
Escalope de Foie Gras Chaud, Jus au Vin de Paille – A lightly cooked slice of fattened duck liver served hot with a sauce made from the natural cooking juices and vin de paille wine,
Macvin de Jura AOC – Not a wine but a liqueur.
Macvin de Jura AOC is a grape liquor produced in the Jura from an ancient tradition; however, when you check on the tradition’s history it is apparently so old that no one seems to be very clear about when it began! Nevertheless, to produce the liqueur the Savagnin wine and its must, the grape juice, are reduced in quantity by heating. Then in a manner similar to Pineau de Charente from Cognac, Pommeau from Calvados and Floc de Gascogne from Armagnac an eau-de vie, a young brandy, is mixed with the fermenting wine to stop the fermentation and that leaves a liqueur with 16% alcohol. Macvin reds and rosés are made with the pinot noir grape. A Macvin is drunk cold as an aperitif or as a dessert wine. The Macvin used in the kitchen is usually the white Macvin; when the red or rosé is used it will usually be noted on the menu listing,
Macvin Du Jura label.
Photograph courtesy of Fruitière Vinicole de Pupillin
Macvin AOC on French Menus:
Millefeuille Melon Et Pastèque En Gelée De Macvin Blanc – Interleaved slices of melon and watermelon served with a dessert jelly flavored with white Macvin.
Foie De Veau Poêlé Au Macvin – Calves’ liver lightly fried in Macvin.
A trilogy of Crème Brulees
Le Tournedos de Pintade au Macvin et sa Purée Maison – Breast of Guinea fowl flavored with Macvin and served with the house’s special potato puree.
Other products from the French Jura
The Jura offers fresh crayfish and fish from its streams, rivers, and lakes as well as poultry and pork products from local farms including their famous smoked sausage, the Saucisse de Morteau AOP.
Also in the menu listings will be the Jura’s many excellent cheeses.
The most famous cheeses from the Jura:
Comté AOP – The most famous of France’s the hard, yellow, cow’s milk cheeses.
Mont d’Or AOP – A mild cow’s milk cheese that is only available for about six months in a year as the cheese is only produced in the winter.
There are many local fresh cow’s milk cheeses that will be offered for breakfast or as a dessert in the Jura. The most popular is Cancoillotte, a gooey cow’s milk cheese that is served as a dip or a spread.
Jura in France and Jura in Switzerland.
The French department of Jura’s name confuses many first-time visitors as they’re set against the Jura Mountains that are shared by Switzerland and France. The French department of Jura borders the Swiss Canton of Vaud not the Swiss Canton of Jura, though it is not far away.
Before 31-12-2015 Jura was part of the region of Franche-Comté
On 1-1-2016 France reduced the number of mainland regions from 22 to 13; to cut red tape and taxes. The department of Jura is now part of the super region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.
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