Franck Peillot Bugey Mondeuse 2014
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Located in the eastern part of the Ain department, which is better known for its poulet de Bresse (the only French poultry with its own AOC) and its freshwater fish, the Bugey is a series of low altitude hills forming the most southern tip of the Jura range. In distance, it is closer to Savoie than to viticultural Jura, so, if mentioned at all, it is often considered a part of Savoie.
Winemakers in the Bugey beg to differ. They feel that their region has a soil and a climate all its own, which produce wines found nowhere else in France (Cerdon being the less obscure example of Bugey’s originality).
Montagnieu is a village south of Cerdon, with premières côtes overlooking the Rhône valley, and most of its production is a white sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Roussette de Savoie, Gamay and Jacquère. The grape Roussette is called Altesse locally, and it survives in the Bugey in a few patches of old vines, for it is not as hardy, reliable and productive as others. Only two young winemakers in Montagnieu, Franck Peillot and Benoît Dumont, produce still wines exclusively from this grape. By law, the wine, Roussette du Bugey, can contain any white varietal, in any proportion. That’s why Peillot’s is labelled 100% Altesse.
Peillot, who took over his family estate five years ago, carries on the work of 4 generations before him. Although he makes a sparkling Montagnieu from Chardonnay, Altesse, and Mondeuse, he vinifies all of his Altesse old vines as a still wine. With low yields and high ripeness, he is set to revive the wine that Jules Chauvet (a Beaujolais négociant, eminent taster and writer who has inspired a whole school of “natural winemaking”, notably in Morgon) put on a par with Chateau Chalon, Chateau Grillet and Yquem. Exaggeration aside, the varietal is thought to be a cousin of the Hungarian Furmint of Tokay fame, and, even when vinified dry, it retains a fair amount of residual sugar. Peillot is also a believer in the quality of his Mondeuse grapes, and is the lone vigneron in the village who obtained the appellation Montagnieu Mondeuse with his red wine in the 1997 vintage.
On the foothills of the Jura Mountains, just east of the Cote de Beaune on the Switzerland border, the Jura wine-producing zone is recognized for its unique reds, as well as its particular and diverse styles of whites.
Though borrowed from their neighbor Burgundy, Chardonnay and Pinot noir have been growing in Jura since the Middle Ages. But here the altitude, topography, climate and clay-rich, marl soils support a different style of Pinot noir, not to mention its other deeply-colored, full-bodied indigenous reds, Poulsard and Trousseau.
Considering area under vine, growers here favor Chardonnay for its consistency and reliability; it comprises almost half of Jura's vineyard acreage. However, Jura Chardonnay is anything but boring; its many offbeat styles are part of what make region’s wines so distinctive. It is used for Cremant (sparkling), Macvin (a fortified wine), as well as fine examples at the quality level of Burgundy.
Jura also has a unique oxidative style for Chardonnay but is better recognized for its similarly-styled “vin jaune,” meaning ‘yellow wine,’ which is made from the indigenous variety, Savagnin. Vin jaune is made using techniques similar to those used to make Sherry.
For all of its wines, Jura favors a traditional, natural and often organic style in viticulture and winemaking.
One of the oldest and distinctive red grape varieties of Savoie, Mondeuse is showing great potential as global demand for this rare wine grows. Some of the best Mondeuse comes from the Bugey region or is sold as a varietal Vin de Savoie, often from a particular cru. Somm Secret—DNA profiling has confirmed that Mondeuse and Syrah are related. The two have a lot of common characteristics, namely a dense color with black fruit on the palate and herbal or spicy aromas.