From the Autoroute des Alpes in eastern France, on which our buyer Marcel Orford-Williams travels at least a couple of times a year, you can see the beautiful vineyards of the Jura. In the south-west of this region is L'Etoile, a village whose name means 'star', thanks either to the ancient starfish fossils found in the soil here or to the five hills surrounding it in a star shape.
Nicole Deriaux is the third generation of her family to produce wines here since her grandfather first planted vineyards at this domaine in 1920 - she began assisting her father Jean in 1986, and her own sons are eager to be involved.
She manages the estate’s 9 hectares of vines with great respect for the soil. Most of the plantings are chardonnay, with just under two hectares of savagnin, but there are also small amounts of trousseau (also known as bastardo) and poulsard, two local Jura varieties.
All grapes are hand harvested before being transported to the cellars under the family home for a very traditional vinification process. Fermentation occurs in stainless-steel tanks before the wines are aged in barrels of various sizes and ages. The savagnin we buy is aged for four years, whereas the Vin Jaune - also made from savagnin - must spend seven years in barrels before bottling.
Nicole's Crémant de Jura is made in small quantities, using the Champagne method, from her young chardonnay vines. It undergoes both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, and spends at least 18 months ageing on its lees, before being bottled without dosage to ensure a completely dry style.