vin jaune labet

What is Vin Jaune (Yellow Wine)? Know everything !

If you leave a wine in the open air, most of the time it turns vinegar. But it can also, under certain conditions, develop a veil to protect itself. This layer will give it particular aromas and texture. This is the case of Vin Jaune (Yellow wine). Nicknamed “the Gold of the Jura“, as unique in its production as in the aromatic palette it offers, yellow wine is now recognized as one of the best wines in the world. What is its secrets? What is its origin? What is its price?… We explain everything to you!

vin jaune

“The legend tell us that the discovery of yellow wine was due to chance…”

What is yellow wine ?

The yellow wine, which takes its name from its atypical color, is a sailing wine produced only in the Jura on 4 terroirs: Arbois, Château-Chalon, CĂ´tes-du-Jura, L’Étoile. It can only be vinified from one grape variety: Savagnin.

How is yellow wine made?

To make yellow wine, Savagnin grapes are picked when ripe. After alcoholic and then malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged for six years and three months in oak barrels without topping. This is the particularity of this wine.

When a wine is aged in a barrel, the wood allows micro respiration and part of the wine evaporates. This is called the “Angel’s Share”. In most cases, the winemaker compensates for this loss by adding wine (this is called “topping”) to limit its oxidation. During the production of yellow wine, contact with the air is deliberately sought so that a layer of yeast develops and gives it its unique character and aromas. We then say of the wine that it is aged under veil.

The bottling of yellow wine

So after 6 years and 3 months, the yellow wine is bottled. In order to respect the specifications of the appellation, the winegrowers must imperatively use a bottle with the specific shape and capacity of 62 cl called a Clavelin. Why 62cl? This is what remains as quantity for 1l of wine after the famous share of the angels.

Why doesn’t vin jaune turn vinegar?

When a wine turns vinegar, it is the acetic bacteria (developing in contact with air) that are responsible for this phenomenon. Being a wine aged under veil, yellow wine develops a layer of yeasts including the famous Saccharomyces bayanus. These yeasts have the property of asphyxiating (depriving air) of acetic bacteria, thus preventing the wine from turning vinegar.

vin jaune tradition jura

History, legends and traditions of yellow wine from the Jura

The legend tell us that the discovery of yellow wine was (like that of sparkling wine) due to chance. It is said in the Jura that a winegrower would have forgotten in his cellar a barrel of Savagnin…. When he would have discovered the wine several years later, in order not to waste it, he would have drunk it. The charm and excellence of the yellow wine would have done the rest…

Louis Pasteur and le vin jaune

Louis Pasteur, a native of the Jura who discovered the existence of yeasts (before him, fermentation was seen as something rather magical and mystical), looked into the question of making yellow wine. His results were published in 1866 in “Studies in Wine“. Although many mysteries have remained unresolved, he was one of the first to highlight the relationship between the veil of yeast on the surface and the ability of wine not to turn vinegar.

La percée du vin Jaune

Since 1996, La Percée du Vin Jaune has been a Jura tradition consisting, on the first weekend in February, of celebrating the piercing of the first barrels after 6 years and 3 months of ageing. A large-scale wine festival, bringing together nearly 400,000 visitors each year. After this celebration, the wine is bottled in the famous Clavelins.

Yellow wine aromas & pairing

What are the aromas of a yellow wine?

Due to its unique process, yellow wine has a rich and powerful mouthfeel as well as a complex aroma, it’s definitely unlike any other wine. We often find aromas, mainly due to its breeding and its oxidative side, of nuts, hazelnuts, spices, curry, mushrooms, honey, almond, gingerbread, vanilla, caramel, apple…

Food pairing with Jura yellow wine

With its aromas described above, yellow wine goes very well with Comté, foie gras, poultry with cream, pan-fried mushrooms. And of course with all the dishes based on this beverage: rooster or trout in vin jaune…

Vin jaune Overnoy

What is the price of a yellow wine?

Depending on its quality and the reputation of the winemaker, the price range of a yellow wine is obviously wide. However, requiring a lot of time for its elaboration (more than 6 years), and given that a large quantity of wine is lost by evaporation, the price of a yellow wine is on average higher than that of other types of wine.

What is the best Jura vin jaune?

According to Napoleon III, the best yellow wine, and even in the world, is that produced in the controlled designation of origin Château-Chalon. For our part, if you want to taste an exceptional yellow wine at a more than reasonable price, we recommend the one vinified by Domaine Labet. It’s just sublime! But there is also that of Pierre Overnoy, of the Domaine Ganevat, of the domaine de la tournelle…