So, welcome 2013. I am looking forward to another year of exciting wines. New Year’s Eve and New Year wines provided a good start. My Champagne this year was a little underwhelming, a sweetish and unpoised 1999 Boizel, but made up for by a pretty nice 2010 Brut Nature Privat Cava (made by the Alta Alella winery which actually lies outside of the classic Cava zone), bone-dry, no-nonsense mineral and more than tasty for 14€ retail here in Poland.
As per my New Year habit I’ve also indulged on a top sweet wine: the deliciously complex if slightly low-acid Samuel Tinon Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonos from 2000. But the stunner of the day was definitely the Château d’Arlay Vin Jaune 1997.
I am a great fan of the Jura wines (who isn’t; a wine lover’s paradise, so distinctive), and I absolutely love their ‘yellow wines’, vin jaune which is aged in unfilled barrels for a minimum of six years and resembles absolutely no other wine on our lonely planet (unless you happen to drink amontillado sherry).
Vin jaune is a relict of ancient times, when wine was given a lot of time to mature, oxidation wasn’t considered a fault (rather a vaccination against something quite nastier: acetic spoilage, or turning into vinegar), and before the emergence of the ambiguous concept of ‘fruit’ that has completely dominated our appreciation of wine. Vin jaune is everything but fruity, and yet it remains one of the most flavourful, engaging and complex liquids we pour into our glasses. With its stunning panorama of spices, nuts, earthy and savoury notes, it is the perfect meditation wine, though also great with food – and it performs well where many wines fall short, such as with eggs, mushrooms and spicy foods.
Vin jaune has many a dimension, and the most compelling, for me, is time. We are used to drinking wines very young and even our robust reds tend to have a lifetime of years rather than decades. Vin jaune has more patience than any vin jaune drinker. This 1997 from the historical castle of Arlay is as youthful as jaune ever gets (in fact it tastes identical to the latest release, the 2005). It made me realise that the 1979s and 1976s I have in my cellar will be too young, too. In fact vin jaune, like madeira, is always too young. The fact that it is made from two pounds of grapes through roughly the same fermentation process that produces the Two Buck Chuck is eloquent of immensity of wine in itself. That’s the adventure that I wish to all of you for 2013, dear Readers.
Source of wines: own purchases.