Field Trip: 36 hours in the Jura

by Megan Jones

Hey winos,

Megan here, with a belated write-up of our flying visit to the Jura. Belated coz I’m still coming down from cloud nine – I’m a relatively new Jura convert (realistically, I’m relatively new to being a convert to any wine region in particular. Previous conversions include: boxed wine), but since it popped up on my radar it’s quickly established itself as one of my fave regions ever. So to get to take a trip there just a few months after I found out it existed? Dreamy.

The aim of our trip was to source some banging new producers, because we’re essentially indefatigable in our efforts to keep bringing you guys the best of the best. But at time of print said producers remain confidential. What a tease! But I know you’re gonna keep reading anyway, you can’t help yourself.

Day one started at a slightly more civilised hour than other trips Dan’s sent me on, presumably because Dan himself was coming on this one and didn’t want to have to get up at 4am. We flew into Geneva and picked up our electric hire car – otherwise known as the bane of our life, which I’ll get to later – stopped for a quick French Maccy’s [*reminisces in Parisian*], then drove through the mountains to Rotalier, where we paused for a brief, longing stare at the road signs pointing us towards some legendary producers (Buronfosse and Ganevat, anyone?), before heading on to our final destination, Arbois.

After an early test of my self-taught French in the form of attempting to find the Air BnB (impressive that we managed to struggle with this in a town that small) we headed out to the only bar that was open. France doesn’t believe in Sundays. Keen to flex his own blossoming French, and to live as the locals do, Tom asked a patron what he was drinking and then ordered three of them for us. The less said about those drinks the better. Let me just say, if someone offers you a ‘Monaco’, run the other way. Dan took one sip before declaring it undrinkable and heading back inside to their much more palatable wine fridge, and we worked our way through a Savagnin from Fumey Chatelain on a little patio overlooking an even littler river. Dan then bestowed upon me the great honour of choosing the next bottle – an honour accompanied by crippling anxiety, since every other time I’ve chosen a bottle, Dan has laughed in my face – but it was hard to go wrong in that fridge. I grabbed the Léon Chardonnay from Bottes Rouges, which coincidentally is arriving on the website today, and parked it next to fat tranches of Comté and Morbier. Flex. Bottes Rouges has seven hectares across seven different vineyard plots, with soil varying from limestone to heavy clay and loam. All native yeasts, often no fining or filtering, and minimal sulfur. Just how we like it. Shop the whole lot here. Unfortunately we spent a bit too much time hacking away at the cheese and by the time we were down to the dregs of the Bottes Rouges, the only restaurant in Arbois was stacking its chairs on its tables and looking at us, running towards them waving our arms and yelling ‘S’il vous plait!’, with pure loathing in their eyes. They gestured to the unstaffed supermarket next door, which resembled nothing so much as a Japanese capsule hotel, with single ingredients in individual glass cases. Like, one banana in a glass box, one onion in another glass box, a box of eggs in another glass box. Entirely flummoxed as to how to get this robot supermarket to sell us anything, we went back to the restaurant and managed to wrestle three frozen pizzas and a rhubarb flavoured beer (impulse purchase) from their resistant hands, for the princely and presumably hiked-up-for-idiot-tourists price of €39. Overall, a successful first day.

Within five minutes of leaving the house on day two, we managed to run into the bartender from the previous evening, the couple who had the dubious pleasure of sharing our table (and told us, sternly, to have a good evening when they left), and the woman who worked at the pizzeria – in other words, everyone we’d managed to piss off the night before. Love small town life. Perhaps determined to make up for the sad culinary offerings of the day before (remember that French Maccy’s?), Dan directed us to a local bakery, where we picked up some pains au chocolat before driving over to our first stop of the day, which is… confidential. For now. Suffice to say it’s something we’re very excited about, and that you should be very excited about too. Your lives are about to get a lot more delicious.

Top secret mission accomplished, we headed to our next appointment – not one, incidentally, that we had remotely planned. While we were cruising down the street at 3mph trying to find our accommodation, we’d spotted a sign for the Hughes-Béguet cellar – a five minute walk down the street. There was a sign on the door with Patrice’s phone number on, so we texted him. Can I just say, not how I thought anything worked in the wine world. I didn’t know we’d just be cruising around, Whatsapp-ing people in broken French, asking if we could come and taste some of their wine, but apparently that’s how it’s done. Which is awesome. In any case, we rolled up to Patrice’s that afternoon and stood around awkwardly while he paced up and down on the phone. Tried not to eavesdrop, and then when I did all he was saying was ‘yes yes yes’ or ‘no no no’. So no top secret tea on Béguet to spill, sadly. When he got off the phone he turned around and said, ‘So! Why are you here?’

I love the French. After that slightly lukewarm welcome he took us down into the cellar and proceeded to take us through his entire range, siphoning stuff straight out of stainless-steel tanks and into our glasses, telling us about the origins of his labels (something about a bear, and a gun? Should have taken notes but my hands were full of half empty glasses). They say to never meet your heroes, but I can’t say I agree, after that afternoon. Legend even gave us two bottles to take with us – slightly stressful since we’d already been to the most unbelievable wine shop in town and picked up three bottles (of stuff that’s essentially impossible to get in this country – remind me again why I don’t live in France?) for that evening. Laden down with liquids, we staggered back to the Air BnB and spent the rest of the afternoon packing them away, while Dan made Chicken in Vin Jaune, aka, chicken in wine sauce. Even I was starting to hit my limit.

The next morning was spent, atmospherically, in the car park of a supermarket while we charged Dan’s nemesis, the electric car, which would only charge in approximately 1% of the thousands of electrical charging points decoratively scattered around Arbois, as we found to our detriment that morning. There were a lot of miles between us and our return flight, so we all sat in the car twiddling our thumbs for an hour before it was revved up enough to make it to Geneva airport. Even with the extra hour, it was still a close call. We watched the battery percentage frittering away as we scaled the vertiginous hills, all pretending to be enjoying the gentle jazz on the radio while silently panicking. Pretty sure we coasted into the airport on fumes, as it were. Electric fumes. Or something. We still had some wine to kill so Tom swigged it down from the bottle (sorry, France) and we toddled off back to Blighty. Essentially a perfect 36 hours. Although you won’t catch me buying an electric car anytime soon. Or investing shares in ‘Monaco’.

À la prochaine!


Leave a comment