The Jura is sandwiched between Switzerland and Burgundy, and its vineyard area is the first upland between the Bresse Plain and the Jura Mountains. The lower slopes have more clay to go with marl; the higher slopes have more limestone, much like Burgundy’s Côte d’Or on the other side of the vast plain (unlike Burgundy, however, the Jura’s vineyards have a treasure trove of tiny star-shaped fossils, scattered like star dust upon the ground.). The influence of the Alps ensures that Jura’s climate is decidedly more continental than Burgundy’s, and winters can be quite cold. Vines are trained high for added protection against frost. Harvest typically runs well into October.
This is an ancient grape-growing region whose wine was referenced in 80 AD by Pliny the Younger. The early 19th century supported close to 50,000 acres of vines. Largely because of the phylloxera epidemic, the total today is around 4,000 acres. The earlier century supported a far greater diversity of vines too—42 different kinds, according to one count—whereas today five varieties dominate. Chardonnay is the most important at 43% of the total vineyard surface, and came from Burgundy with its sibling Pinot Noir as long ago as the 10th century. Savagnin, a distinctive wine prized for vin jaune, accounts for 22% of the vineyards; Poulsard, aka Ploussard, adds up to 14%; Pinot Noir for 13%; and Trousseau for 8% (figures come from a census taken in 2000).
After enology school, Jean-Luc Mouillard established his winery in 1991, renting several parcels and planting several others. Today he farms twenty-five acres of vines in three appellations: Côtes du Jura, L’Etoile, and Château-Chalon. The bulk of the vines are in the AOC of Côtes du Jura for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Poulsard and Trousseau. The farming ethic is one of lutte raisonnée, or pragmatically sustainable. No herbicides or pesticides or chemical fertilizers are employed.
Two parcels, 2.35 acres. Trousseau is a Jura native and at some point in its history migrated to Portugal, where it is known as Bastardo. The Mouillard rendition is a lightly-colored wine of notably full, limestony flavors. Lighter years see this wine aged entirely in tank while riper years can see barrel ageing. Low yielding years can result in this being blended with Poulsard and Pinot Noir to make a red in sufficient volume named Rubis. In abundant years, production of Trousseau can reach 375 cases.