Lulu Vigneron's Jura Magic
Tucked into Mountains of the same name, Jura flanks France’s eastern side on Switzerland's border. Gifted with rugged natural beauty, idyllic villages dot the landscape filled with some of the most hospitable folks you'll find anywhere in the world. Though near France's most famous epicurean regions, it has a food and wine culture wholly its own that is second to none. All of this is only accentuated by the generous and humble nature of those who call Jura home.
Although not originally from Jura, Ludwig Bindernagel and Nathalie Eigenschenck of Lulu Vigneron embody these traditions to the nth degree. Originally from Bavaria and Paris respectively, they met in Paris. Ludwig studied viticulture remotely while working as an architect in Paris, and ultimately decided to leave to pursue his passion for viticulture and wine production. In 2000, they took the improbable leap and purchased a winery with the intention of producing their own wines.
They also purchased a little hotel in the village of Poligny, and this is said without hyperbole, it is perhaps one of the most charming accommodations anywhere, filled with a lifetime of collected objet, each in its perfect place. Nathalie will cook you dinners and breakfasts that will stay with you forever. Her skills in the kitchen are only matched by her warmth and charm. If you can get Nathalie to sit and eat with you, she along with Ludwig will regale you with stories from their incredibly interesting lives. Both are intellectual powerhouses and often host raucous dinners with many of the area’s most talented and opinionated vignerons.
The original vineyard is about 2.5 hectares in Arlay, in the center of the Jura, and they have since expanded the estate to include vineyards at Poligny and Etoile and the legendary Château-Chalon. Their vineyards are all currently organic with the ultimate goal of becoming fully biodynamic. The soil in the Jura is very unique, with two marly layers and a calcareous stratus, which is rich in fossilized oysters. Each plot that Ludwig purchased was populated by very old vines as he prefers to work with older stock because of their ability to resist disease and produce grapes of exceptional concentration.
Ludwig works the vines every day, a testament to belief that the best wines are made in the vineyard. He has a completely natural approach to winemaking with a dedication and an affinity for making wine in the traditional style of the Jura. The fermentations are done at very low temperatures, lengthening the process for up to two years allowing the wines to achieve their potential complexity. Nothing is ever added or removed during winemaking and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered with a minute amount of sulphur. This is the first time we've offered Lulu wines in SF.
The two wines below are white and made from the region's traditional varieties, Savagnin and Chardonnay produced in a nonoxidative style. There is that savoury mineral edge, lazer-like acidity with layer upon layers of ripe and lush fruit. We were so excited to crack into these hence the empty bottles in the photo above. For those who already love wines from the Jura, these will be a delicious and familiar experience and for those who are just setting out to explore these mountain wines, there is no better introduction.
Lulu Vigneron,Côtes du Jura Blanc "BB1", 2016
A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Savagnin, this showcases the region's famous mimerality. Savory melted rock acidity is contrasted against warm and rich aromas and flavors of roasted apple, spiced pear, dried apricot and pepper. The driving minerality keeps everything fresh and is sustained through the lip smacking finish.
Lulu Vigneron, Côtes du Jura Chardonnay “Sous le Cerisier”, 2015
This is what makes Jura Chardonnay so delicious and unique in spades. Lush and layered with ripe tropical fruit aromas and flavours as well as an herbaceousness under the savoury mineral presence. Complex and opulent but with a dark mineral backbone that keeps it alive and fresh. Reminds us of some of the Chardonnay’s that Ganevat produces but for less than half the price.