You can sideline focusing on Jura’s Vin Jaune and Savagnin, Poulsard, and Trousseau if Jean-Marc Brignot’s Vinibrato wines move beyond their tiny production cult status stage. Think Gamay from Beaujolais, and Pinot Noir from Burgundy instead.
There was a time in French history that Burgundy and Jura were joined at the hips. Only 72 miles separates Malamboz, Brignot’s Jura base, and Saint-Romain, the source of his Pinot Noir. Just a bit over 100 miles separates Brignot from Gamay, sourced in Beaujolais from Morgon to Chiroubles. Until now, the Jura’s Sherry-like Vin Jaune and proximity to Switzerland compared with Beaujolais’ and Burgundy’s respectively successful traditions with Gamay and Pinot Noir offered unscalable walls of separation between the vinous regions. But then, evidently, Brignot’s own local Jura vineyards failed and he set out to conquer the divides.
It is fair to say that Brignot is part of a hidden natural wine cognoscenti; small winemakers experimenting in wineries and garages with uber-natural approaches to coaxing the essence of fruity goodness from wine grapes. I wonder how many winemakers there are right now going undiscovered with their tiny experimental productions and disconnect from world markets? Brignot took the unconventional route, bringing non-Jura varieties back home to play with, that is now making enough noise so the right sellers and buyers can’t fully escape it.
My connection to wines like this, Matteo and Kerri at the Wine Bottega in the North End of Boston, slip these products into my orders on a regular basis. It’s a demonstration of the value in supporting great wine sellers like them. This time, Matteo insisted I try the full set of Brignot’s Gamay and Burgundy wines he was able to secure from Zev Rovine. Truth be told, I have never tasted Gamay nor Pinot Noir quite like it. While I am still spinning from sheer pleasure, I wonder if these wines could ever establish mass appeal. They are so very different, offering Pinot Noir with exquisite crispy citric character and wild gamey Gamay (gamey gamay…repeating to reiterate this is not a typo), from the way palates have been trained to appreciate these varieties. The wines are for open minds, willing to get closer to what happens to the fruit with carbonic maceration when you ferment and age full cluster Gamay with stems and really do nothing else to help it along. For those willing to transcend the divide between wine making establishment and the natural cognoscenti, it is possible to embrace a kaleidoscope of flavor, aromatics, and texture that occur when you let the fruit just become what it intended to be in the hands of simple winemakers.
At the time of writing, I have only tasted the Envol de la Fille (Flight of the daughter) Gamay and the Sun Of A Beach Pinot Noir. I want to drink lots more of both.
$35 **** Envol de la Fille, Gamay, Morgon, Beaujolais
Wild animal and truffle aromatics that stay pronounced while you nurse the bottle throughout the evening. Rich black cherry fruit dominates, but in a very light style. The delicate nature of the wine in your mouth is in direct juxtaposition with the bold fruit core and the heavy duty aromas that you might expect from stinky Burgundy or saddle leather southern Rhones. A monumental new expression of Gamay for me.
$ ***1/2 Sun of a Beach, Pinot Noir, Saint Romain, Burgundy
The wine is ONLY 10% alcohol. Drink up! It smells like a cross between sweet pink grapefruit, strawberry sucking candy, and earth. The wine is light and bright, like a really watered down version of grape jello, and has a bit of murkiness to it. There is caressing acidity that neatly aligns with the fruit. The finish is pure pink grapefruit and citrus. I had a funny thought about a baking analog drinking this wine. I thought if most Burgundy is a chocolate brownie, then this is the macaroon version. That may not make a lot of sense to you now, but try the wine and see if it fits.
These wines, never intended to be made in Jura, are magical. But beware; if you were raised on California Cabernet or big Syrahs and that’s what wine means to you, these could be strange enough to your palate that they will defy what you ever knew about wine. But hey, what’s so bad about that in a magical life of continual wine discovery and learning?
More Reading: Great post from Sophie’s Glass on visit with Brignot and Wrap up on Paris tasting including Brignot