When it comes to delightful pairings, Ivan and Jura's wines are akin to a cat blissfully surrendering to the allure of catnip. Watching Ivan with a glass of Jura is a pure joy – his usual sharp acumen giving way to sheer, hedonistic pleasure. Yet, his love for these wines transcends mere sensory delight; it's rooted in a deep passion enriched by stories and experiences from this unique wine region. Each sip seems to whisk him away, not just to Jura's rolling hills and lush vineyards, but to a place of personal nostalgia, a realm he's always eager to share with fellow wine adventurers.
I first encountered the Jura region through Ivan. Back in 2020, when Sabotage was merely a budding idea and Garage was yet to be born, Ivan and his team initiated 'litnyky' – vibrant Friday evening gatherings on the Yellow Place's summer terrace. Far from a typical terrace, this makeshift street bar, offering an eclectic wine selection, drew in passersby with its magnetic atmosphere of music, laughter, and late-evening chatter. Their mission was simple yet pioneering for Kyiv – to introduce the uninitiated to the world of natural wine, an array of offerings ranging from the perplexing and appalling to the downright brilliant.
It was in this convivial setting that I first tasted Jura and, more specifically, a Buronfosse - "[Se Kwa Sa?]", a whimsical phonetic play on the French "C'est quoi ça?" or "What is that?". When Ivan beckons to a Jura tasting, especially one showcasing wines from the winery that inspired his Telegram channel, it's an invitation you simply can't refuse.
Jura, often overshadowed by Burgundy yet a mere 50 miles from the Côte d’Or across the Saône river valley, is an intriguing wine-producing region. It's weathered numerous challenges: railway developments that shifted wine consumption in southern France, world wars, and unpredictable weather, all leading to its vineyard area dwindling to a scant 800 hectares by the late 1950s. Yet, a renaissance is afoot, with vineyards now covering over 2,000 hectares – a stark contrast to Burgundy's 28,000 hectares.
Adversity here has bred distinctiveness. Largely untouched by industrialization, Jura's winemaking has preserved its unique flair, now re-embraced and revered by connoisseurs. The region boasts superb Chardonnays, on par with the finest from Burgundy (take, for instance, a Tissot bottle that so captivated Guillaume d'Angerville he launched Domaine du Pélican in Jura), versatile Savagnins ranging from zesty, delicate types to robust, oxidized Vin Jaune, and lighter yet profound reds like Pinot Noir, Trousseau, and Poulsard, echoing their Burgundian cousins yet with a distinct Jura twist. A truly enchanting region demanding exploration.
And who are the Buronfosse? They're the exemplary tale of city slickers yearning for rustic tranquillity, swapping urban chaos for country serenity to cultivate vegetables, care for animals, and forgo the relentless bustle. Initially, winemaking wasn't on Peggy and Jean-Pascal Buronfosse's agenda when they moved to La Combe de Rotalier in 1999. Jean-Pascal took up teaching, while Peggy, leveraging her agricultural expertise, joined Jean-François Ganevat's vineyards – a legend now enshrouded in controversy in Ukraine due to ties with moscow's oligarchs. In 2000, Raymond Pageault, a venerable local vigneron, entrusted his vineyards to Peggy, thus planting the seeds for their quaint wine domaine.
Peggy gradually phased out herbicides, embracing organic farming by 2007. By 2013, Jean-Pascal left teaching to devote himself entirely to the domaine. Today, the couple nurtures around 4.5 hectares of land, growing not just Chardonnay, Savagnin, and Pinot Noir, but also a host of lesser-known indigenous varieties.
Their story is compelling, but tasting their wines is where the true intrigue lies. Buronfosse wines are marked by a pristine and elegant style, free from any 'funk and rock 'n' roll'; yet still carrying a distinct character. I deeply respect winemakers who practice minimal intervention yet achieve such discipline and clarity. It's all too easy to mask flaws under the guise of 'naturalness'. Buronfosse's journey is fascinating; from their earlier, somewhat reductive and untamed wines to today's embodiment of elegance and finesse. While not revolutionary, their wines are irresistibly tasty and captivating – the kind you'd happily savour again and again. To me, wine is, foremost, a culinary delight, and I treasure wines that excel in both approachability and enjoyment.
With that introduction, let's dive into the selection Ivan curated for our tasting.
Buronfosse Circumstantia MMXXI NV
This wine secured the 🏅 6th place in our wine tasting lineup.
A Chardonnay blend from 2020 and 2021, organically grown in 0.27 hectares of clay-limestone soil. The 23-year-old vines yield a wine aged in neutral oak for up to 18 months, with no fining, filtration, or added .
It presents a slightly reductive, yet richly perfumed nose, featuring salted nuts, ripe yellow fruits, floral hints, a dash of spices, and a distinct iodine character. Although ouillé, intriguing flor-like qualities linger. The palate is fresh and rounded with a pleasing bitterness, citrus zest, and a reminiscence of sea water, all underpinned by a pronounced mineral backbone.
Buronfosse Chardonnay Les Ammonites 2020
This wine secured the 🥉 3rd place in our wine tasting lineup.
Chardonnay from 23-year-old vines grown on 0.27 hectares of clay-limestone soil. Hand-harvested and organically farmed, it undergoes spontaneous fermentation and 18 months of aging in neutral oak, ouillé style, with no fining, filtration, or added .
This wine offers a straightforward yet engaging bouquet, reminiscent of white chocolate with a marzipan core, complemented by almond, lemon, and a distinct seawater note. More pronounced than the Circumstantia, it boasts a creamy texture. The palate is dynamic and approachable, highlighted by pronounced nutty flavours and a delightful mouthfeel. It concludes with a salty finish, albeit slightly off-dry, making for a long and engaging aftertaste.
Buronfosse Ephémère 2021
This wine secured the 🏅 8th place in our wine tasting lineup.
A "mysterious" 100% Chardonnay with no confirmed details beyond the grape variety.
This wine unveils a reductive bouquet, marked by raw pumpkin seeds and hay, conveying a slightly nervous character. Notes of salted nuts add complexity. On the palate, it's fresh and juicy, predominantly flavoured with lemon, yet remains straightforward. The finish surprises with a hint of gunpowder, adding depth to its fresh, long, and easy-going nature.
Buronfosse Ephémère 2020
This wine secured the 🏅 7th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Another enigmatic 100% Chardonnay, with undisclosed specifics.
The wine features a generous bouquet, brimming with honey and baked pears, accented by chamomile. It's round and slightly off-dry, offering a straightforward yet delicious profile. The finish brings in a subtle mineral touch, enhancing its easy-going nature.
Buronfosse L'Hopital 2020
This wine secured the 🥈 2nd place in our wine tasting lineup.
Savagnin from 70-year-old vines spread across 3.60 hectares of clay-limestone soil. The wine is organically farmed, hand-harvested, and undergoes spontaneous fermentation in neutral oak, aged sur lie for 18 months without fining, filtration, or added .
This wine boasts a beautifully salty bouquet, intermingling with yellow fruits, raw cashew, white cherry, and a hint of vanilla. Medical notes add an intriguing layer. On the palate, it impresses with good acidity and great structure, carrying through the salty essence. Flavours of lime mingle with delicious pine nuts, creating a harmonious, persistent and flavourful experience.
Buronfosse Varron Savagnin 2018
This wine secured the 🥇 1st place in our wine tasting lineup.
Biodynamically farmed Savagnin from 10-year-old vines on 0.37 hectares of clay-limestone soil. Hand-harvested and spontaneously fermented in neutral oak, aged ouillé for 18 months, with no fining, filtration, or added .
This wine immediately surprises with prominent flor aromas on the first nose, layered with nuts, yellow fruits, herbaceous notes, green apple, citrus, and a curious hint of curry. The palate is graced with good acidity and a pleasing bitterness, creating a complex, delicious, and persistent profile. It's a demanding wine, offering subtler pine nut notes in the finish, intertwined with lime and a pronounced salty character. Overall, it's a great, complex wine in splendid condition, showcasing both intensity and finesse.
Buronfosse Pinot 2022
This wine secured the 🏅 4th place in our wine tasting lineup.
A blend from two Pinot Noir parcels, hand-harvested, sorted, destemmed, and aged in oak barrels for 9 months. (Further details are not available.)
This wine captivates with an elegant bouquet, brimming with red flowers, hibiscus, and an assortment of red fruits, complemented by a subtle hint of blood. It's a quintessential, clean expression of cool-climate Pinot Noir. The palate is juicy and quaffable, underlined by a pleasant minerality and a pleasant pencil lead finish. Vibrant in character, it has well-structured tannins, suggesting a touch of youth. Velvety notes enhance the experience, resulting in a focused and juicy profile.
My personal appreciation for this style may slightly colour the score.
Buronfosse [Se Kwa Sa?] 2022
This wine secured the 🏅 5th place in our wine tasting lineup.
A blend of Poulsard, Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Gamay, Béclans, Enfariné, and Tinturiers, biodynamically grown on 0.70 hectares of calcareous clay and marl soil. The 70-year-old vines produce a wine that's spontaneously fermented in neutral oak, aged 10-12 months, with no fining, filtration, or added .
This wine reflects a discernible shift in style, a change that I find quite appealing, moving away from its previous eccentricity.
It's not overly complex, yet it possesses an irresistible deliciousness and charm. Subtle brett nuances initially present soon give way to a bounty of ripe and dark fruits, red flowers, and a compote-like richness. The palate is fresh and delightful, supported by good tannins and a long, neat aftertaste. Its mineral backbone adds a refined structure, making it a well-balanced and enjoyable wine.
- Domaine de Buronfosse. Zev Rovine Selections.
- Domaine Buronfosse. Wink Lorch.
- Peggy & Jean-Pascal Buronfosse (Jura). Wine Terroirs.
- Parr, R., & Mackay, J. (2018). The Sommelier's Atlas of Taste: A Field Guide to the Great Wines of Europe. Ten Speed Press.