Vin Jaune France’s answer to sherry

Dear Wine Ladies,

I enjoyed reading about “green wine”, or Vinho Verde in last weeks column, but would now like to ask you about a “yellow wine” otherwise known as Vin Jaune. A wine we had never heard of until recently and found to be very interesting in flavor. What is Vin Jaune? Is this a place or a grape?

Bev

Dear Bev,

Great questions, all of them. To start, Vin Jaune is neither a place or a grape, rather a wine that comes from the Jura region in eastern France. It is typically deep golden in color, dry and very rich.

What differentiates this wine from other still wines is in the way it is made. Similar to Sherry, France’s answer to Spain’s top-quality dry Sherry, Vin Jaune is kept in a barrel, or aged, under a film of a specific yeast, known as the “voile” on top of the wine for a minimum of six years. Over time, the barrels are not topped up, leaving an increasingly larger space available for oxygen. The interaction between the wine, the voile and the oxygen, over time results in a dry wine, with a nutty flavor, a pale to deep golden brown and a minimum alcohol content of 11.5% (as determined by France’s wine regulations). Normally, oxygen is the enemy for still wines, but in this case, not so. These wines are typically very age worthy becoming richer and rounder over time, up to ten or fifteen years, developing notes of honeysuckle and caramel. They are often enjoyed after a meal, but within France are promoted to pair well with a variety of foods, with foie gras being one of our personal favorites.

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