In 1936, Arbois wine was the first product to receive the designation « appelation d’origine controlée – AOC », the French equivalent of the European “Protected designation of Origin – PDO.’’ Arbois wine is a specialty of Jura, a department in the northeast of France. Vines in Jura benefit from a clay soil called “chailles,” which can be found under a layer of rock that dates back to the Jurassic era. Arbois bottle

 A Lasting Tradition

Arbois wine has an extensive heritage: testimonies from the Celtic era speak of its existence! In the 13th century, aristocrats from Jura and Burgundy popularized it among European royal courts. During the 19th and 20th centuries, wine supplies were deeply hurt due to wars and phylloxera, a pest that destroys grapevines. Nevertheless, people continued to produce Arbois. In 1858, the first society of viticulture of Arbois was established to protect and defend the unique production process. In 1936, Arbois wine was the first product to receive the title “appelation d’origine controlée – AOC.” The wine continues to be produced today.

 What Makes Arbois Wine so Special?

Arbois can be a white, red, or rosé wine. What makes it unique is that it can also be a vin jaune (a yellow wine) or a vin de paille (a straw wine), both of which employ two additional methods of production.

Vin Jaune and Vin de Paille

To produce a vin jaune, grapes are harvested when they are at their fullest stage of ripeness. Next, they are converted into white wine and put into oak barrels. The wine growers then let natural bacteria develop at the top of the barrels. This guarantees a smooth oxidation process which gives it its special taste, a combination of walnut flavor and what is known in French as goût de jaune (In English, literally “taste of yellow”).

The vin de paille is a sugary and smooth wine with flavors of candied fruits like prunes and oranges. Typically, it is difficult to produce such a sweet wine in a cold area like Jura. In order to do so, harvested grapes are kept for 6 weeks on straw in a dry and ventilated place. This process results in the grapes fermenting slightly while simultaneously raising the sugar level of the grapes.

Semillon_grapes_at_Château_Doisy-Védrines,_Barsac,_Sauternes

The Grapes Responsible for Arbois

Over time, wine growers have discovered grapes that are best suited for the Jura area and that give Arbois its particular flavor. Red, rosé, and white wines are made out of white Chardonnay, white Savagnin, Pinot Noir and black Poulsard varieties. The {vin jaune} can only be made out of white Savagnin, and the vin de paille comes from black Chardonnay, black Poulsard, white Savagnin, and black Trousseau varieties.