Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot, Patchwork, Chardonnay 2018 | Arbois, France

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the Week – September 28, 2020

The Jura is a region in eastern France between Burgundy and Switzerland. Between Burgundy and the Jura is La Bresse, a flat area lying on either side of the river Saône. The vines start when the ground begins to rise to the east and towards a large limestone plateau. The climate is continental, long cold winters and hot summers but with more rain than in Burgundy.

The two wine regions, incidentally, are only about an hour’s drive away, but the feel is different. The Jura seems to be always greener, lusher, which would offer an explanation, surely, for the extraordinary array of cheeses. The land under vine occupies a very small area among the foothills of the Jura, amounting to about 5,000 acres, though prior to phylloxera it used to be 10 times the size. It is one of the smallest wine regions in France. The soil is limestone with overlays of clays of varying hues, which account for both the number of grape varietals used and for the complex nature of so many of the wines. Chardonnay and Savagnin are used to make white wines, for the red wines Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau come into play. We find the following appellations in the Jura region: Arbois, Château-Chalon, L’Étoile, Côtes-du-Jura, Macvin and Crémant du Jura.

The Chardonnay grape has a long history in the Jura region. It came to the Jura from Burgundy and is the most important varietal in the area, counting for 45% of the vineyards. Its success is explained by its adaptability to the harsh winters and the limestone clay soils which give the wines freshness and minerality.

Stéphane Tissot’s Patchwork Chardonnay is a blend of different vineyards, all over 25 years of age, a blend to take in both the clay and limestone terroirs that Stéphane’s Chardonnay vineyards occupy. The vineyards of the domaine are all farmed with organic and biodynamic practices, grapes are hand harvested, only indigenous yeast is used for the fermentations, no fining and only a small amount of sulfite is added to the wine before bottling.

This bottling is a perfect way to get familiar with the expression Chardonnay develops on the Jurassic terroir: a blend of beautiful, fresh fruit and smoky minerality. This is his entry level cuvée; it delivers a lot of quality and invites to try his single vineyard bottlings later on.

Origin: Jura, France
Varietals: Chardonnay
Sustainability: Organic and biodynamic (both certified)
Suggested retail price: $39.00
ABV: 13.91%

The Patchwork Chardonnay 2018 stands out for its citrus aromas and grilled, mineral notes in the nose. The wine is energetic and concentrated in the mouth, ripe and mineral with a touch of salinity and finishing with great freshness and intensity.

Suggested food pairings: Shellfish, roasted salmon, salads, pasta with fish or vegetables, cheeses – especially Comté since this cheese comes from the Jura.

> For more information, visit the Bénédicte and Stéphane Tissot official website.