Relatively unknown outside of France's remote Jura region, Savagnin connotes misguided ambition and failure in Australia. Recently, Savagnin was revealed to be the true identity of a grape variety that many producers had mistakenly planted as Albarinho. Lacking the commercial velour of Albarinho, some makers decided to rip their plantings up while others soldiered on with what they had, in many cases taking bottles off shelves for relabeling.
However Savagnin deserves recognition for reasons beyond this sad tale. After all, Savagnin is a grape variety that brings us the compelling and highly traditional wines of Arbois and its environs, where barrels are more often than not older, large formats that are left untopped. Volumes are mostly small. The wines are as original as any on the planet.
Here, oxygen imbues a rich golden hue as Savagnin liberates itself from its neutral carapace, to give wines of intriguing chamomile and curry powder aromas. They are brisk and textured, working wonders with the local Comté cheese. These iconoclastic wines reach their zenith as Vin Jaune, a style of wine that is as indestructible as it is rare and expensive.