Domaine de la Touraize, Zeste de Savagnin Arbois (2020)

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André-Jean (“A-J”) Morin is the eighth generation of Morin to tend the vine in Arbois, beginning with his ancestor Etienne in 1704. A-J obtained organic certification in 2016 and biodynamic certification in 2019, and his approach in the vineyards is rigorously labor-intensive: not only is harvest conducted by hand, but nearly all vineyard work is performed manually. A-J even de-stems his reds by hand, using an old local tool known as a crible (famously employed by Pierre Overnoy in Pupillin): a wooden plank with grape-sized holes over which the harvested bunches are rolled back and forth until the fruit falls through.

André-Jean’s approach in the cellar is adamantly non-interventionist: he never adds yeasts, never chaptalizes, never adds sulfur before malolactic fermentation is finished, never pumps the wines, never fines, never filters, and keeps sulfur additions between 10 and 20 milligrams per liter. Despite a relative absence of controls, however, A-J’s wines are unfailingly clean, precise, and expressive—a reflection of his exacting, fastidious working regimen. Contrary to the majority of our imports from the region, most of Touraize’s white wines are topped-up in barrel, offering a bare-knuckled minerality uncomplicated by oxidative notes yet still humming with telltale Jura salinity and power.

A-J began his “Zeste” project by happy accident; a batch of 2018 Chardonnay had elevated volatile acidity in barrel, so he added some skins upon which a younger wine had just finished fermenting, and the wine corrected itself. He loved the results, and began producing a Savagnin which employs skin-contact but which A-J adamantly resists classifying as an “orange wine.” The Savagnin for this bottling is destemmed by hand via crible (his other whites are pressed whole-cluster) and undergoes semi-carbonic maceration with no pump-overs or punch-downs. It then spends two winters in a single 12-hl terracotta jar on its fine lees, and is bottled without fining or filtration. Showing salty grip on the palate but without overt tannins, “Zeste de Savagnin” is explosively spicy, with notes of poached pears on an impressively concentrated palate.