Wines of Jura and the French Alps with Wink Lorch: From Ski Resorts to Worldwide Sensation



What is it about wines from the French Alps and Jura that makes them so different from any other wine region in the world? How has climate change impacted wines in the region? How did their perception as “ski resort wines” negatively impact Jura and Savoie wineries?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with author Wink Lorch.

You can find the wines we discussed here.



One of you will win a copy of Wink Lorch’s terrific book about the wines of Jura and the French Alps.


How to Win

To qualify, all you have to do is email me at [email protected] and let me know that you’ve posted a review of the podcast.

It takes less than 30 seconds: On your phone, scroll to the bottom here, where the reviews are, and click on “Tap to Rate.”

After that, scroll down a tiny bit more and click on “Write a Review.” That’s it!

I’ll choose one person randomly from those who contact me.

Good luck!


Join me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live Video

Join the live-stream video of this conversation on Wednesday at 7 pm eastern on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video.

I’ll be jumping into the comments as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?

Want to know when we go live?

Add this to your calendar:





  • What sparked Wink’s interest in the French Alps and Jura?
  • Why is it important to distinguish between the French Alps and Prealps?
  • What’s the connection between Jura and Savoie?
  • Where exactly are Jura and the French Alps located, and what does the landscape look like?
  • How does Jura’s terroir compare to Burgundy’s, and what does this mean for their wines?
  • How did the historic Mont Granier landslide impact the region?
  • What was Louis Pasteur’s influence on the wine industry, and where can you visit to learn more about him while visiting the Jura region?
  • How do the mountains in the region impact the vineyards in Savoie and Jura?
  • How has climate change impacted the wine industry in the region, and should we be concerned?
  • What unique challenges face Jura and Savoie wine producers, considering their small production and export rates?
  • How did the historical association of Savoie wines with ski resorts affect their perception?
  • Why have Jura wines become popular with sommeliers in some trendy Manhattan restaurants?
  • What makes Jura wines so distinctive, and what challenges are they currently experiencing?


Key Takeaways

  • What is it about wines from the French Alps and Jura that makes them different from any other wine region in the world? As Wink notes, although the region produces wines like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the unique geography and geology make them nothing like their counterparts from other regions. Both Jura and Burgundy were once covered by the sea, which created the limestone and fossil-rich soils that define their terroir.
  • How has climate change impacted the wine industry in the region? Wink explains that climate change has had a big impact in these areas that used to be somewhat marginal in terms of even being able to make wine given the cold. About 50 years ago, in many vintages, the grapes didn’t fully ripen. These days, there’s never a problem with ripening, and there are new problems like more frequent spring frosts, unseasonably warm winters, etc. On the positive side, Savoie now produces some fabulous red wines, which was unheard of in the past.
  • How did their perception as “ski resort wines” negatively impact Jura and Savoie wineries? Wink observes a similar Beaujolais Nouveau effect of being cheap and cheerful 30 years ago. These regions produced very small quantities and often sold all their stock at the ski resorts in the area as French vacationers wanted to have a taste they were accustomed to. Unfortunately, many foreigners were disappointed and turned off from the region as a whole. This problem no longer exists as new generations have worked better in the vineyards, better in the winery, and are commanding better prices.


Start The Conversation: Click Below to Share These Wine Tips


About Wink Lorch

British wine writer, author and educator Wink Lorch has always worked in the world of wine: writing, editing, teaching and presenting tastings having started her career working for British wine importers. Based between London and the French Alps, over the past 20 years, she has become known as the English-language specialist of the wines of Jura and Savoie.

Wink is the author of two award-winning books: Jura Wine (2014) won the André Simon Best Drink Book award and was shortlisted for a Louis Roederer Wine Writers’ award; Wines of the French Alps: Savoie, Bugey and Beyond (2019) won an OIV award in 2020 in the category ‘Wines and Territory’ and was shortlisted for the André Simon Best Drink Book award. Both books were part-funded by Kickstarter campaigns and self-published under the Wine Travel Media name. Since 2023 Wink’s books have been distributed by the prestigious Academie du Vin Library.

Wink is a long-term member of the Circle of Wine Writers and is currently a committee member. As well as writing her own books, she is a regular contributor on Jura and Savoie to Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine, and to books by Tom Stevenson and Oz Clarke. She has written numerous articles for print and on-line magazines from Decanter to Wine-Searcher.

Wink worked freelance for several specialist wine book editors over many years; she was an interim editor for Wine-Searcher’s magazine in 2014-15 and edited the Circle of Wine Writers journal 2015-2017.

A founder member of the Association of Wine Educators in the UK, among many other wine education activities, Wink taught for the WSET at Diploma level 4 for over a decade on subjects from the Loire, through sparkling wines to wines from the Americas. Today, she is a regular speaker for wine clubs and corporate events, as well as presenting seminars and webinars for wine professionals around the subjects of her books.

Wink is currently working on a small companion volume to her first book, Jura Wine, which will be named Jura Wine Ten Years On. It will be published in summer 2024 and she has already run a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund its publication.




Tag Me on Social

Tag me on social media if you enjoyed the episode:


Thirsty for more?

  • Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
  • You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
  • The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on, and other country-specific Amazon sites;, and other country-specific iTunes sites; and



Wink Lorch (00:00:00) – Millions and millions of years ago. So you had the whole of that area of France was covered in the sea. So that’s why we have calcium and why we have fossils.

Natalie MacLean (00:00:12) – Which create the limestone.

Wink Lorch (00:00:14) – Exactly. The Jura mountains emerged many millions of years ago. And then much later, the French Alps, which are a young mountain range. There was this up thrust and they arrived. And then there were other gentle mountains that form the hillsides of Burgundy that we know today. So we’ve suddenly got this sort of dip in the middle. And these two the mirror images of Burgundy, of Jura. Over here, Burgundy over here.

Natalie MacLean (00:00:55) – Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean, and each week I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject.

Natalie MacLean (00:01:28) – I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle, please, and let’s get started. Welcome to episode 280. What is it about wines from the French Alps and Jura that makes them so different from any other wine region in the world? How did climate change impact wines in these regions? And how did their perception as ski resort wines negatively impact Jura and Savoy wineries? In today’s episode, you’ll hear the stories and tips that answer those questions in our chat with Wink Launch. One of you is going to win a copy of her terrific book about the wines of Jura and the French Alps. All you have to do is email me at Nathalie at Natalie MacLean dot com, and let me know that you’d like to win a copy. I’ll choose one person randomly from those who contact me. In personal news, I’m just back from Toronto, where I was chatting about rosé all day for spring on Citi TV’s breakfast television. Then that afternoon, I was on CTV’s The Social, where we explored trendsetting grapes and wines that you should try this summer.

Natalie MacLean (00:02:44) – And the next day I went to Hamilton to discuss floral scented wines on CHC Morning Live. I actually don’t repost the audio from these segments on the podcast, but you can find the videos and full transcripts of these topics on my website, and I’ll include links in the show notes. Meanwhile, have you read wine which on fire, rising from the ashes of divorce, defamation and drinking too much? If yes, well then, have you bought a copy for a friend? Please do that. If you’d like to support this podcast that I do for you on a volunteer basis to ensure it continues. You can order it for yourself or someone else from any online book retailer. Now, no matter where you live, it usually arrives in a day or two. And of course, the e-book is instant. The book itself is a fast read. Every little bit helps spread the message in this book of hope, justice and resilience. You can send a copy directly to a friend or family member and make their day when a gift arrives in the mail, rather than another bill.

Natalie MacLean (00:03:45) – I’ll put a link in the show notes to all retailers worldwide at Natalie MacLean dot com. Forward slash 280. If you’ve read the book or are reading it, I’d love to hear from you at Natalie at Natalie MacLean dot com. Okay, on with the show. British wine writer and educator. Winckler splits her time between London and the French Alps and Jura. She’s the author of two award winning books, Jura Wine and The wines of the French Alps, Savoie Bourgeois and Beyond. Both books were part funded by Kickstarter campaigns, which intrigues me a lot and are now part of the prestigious Academy Library. Winc is also a regular contributor on Jura and Savoie to Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine, and to books by Tom Stevenson and Oz Clarke, as well as numerous print and online magazines from Decanter to Wine Searcher. As a founder member of the Association of Wine Educators in the UK, Winc has taught for the West at the diploma level for for over a decade, and is a regular speaker for wine clubs and corporate events.

Natalie MacLean (00:05:02) – She’s currently working on a companion volume for her first book, Jura Wine, which will be named Jura Wine. Ten years on, it will be published in the summer of 2024, and she’s already run a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund its publication. Winc joins us now from her home in London. Welcome, Winc. We’re so glad you’re here.

Wink Lorch (00:05:23) – Thanks, Nathalie. Great to be with you here.

Natalie MacLean (00:05:26) – Awesome. All right, so let’s dive right in. What is it that first drew you to? Now, I know these regions are very different and we’re going to distinguish them. But generally what drew you to Jura and the French Alps in the first place?

Wink Lorch (00:05:40) – Well, it was very much the French Alps to begin with. I was very lucky in that as a child I was taking skiing mainly in Switzerland. Later on as an adult, I gravitated towards skiing in France. It was a bit easier, a bit cheaper and I already worked in wine. When I started working in the world of wine at a very young age.

Natalie MacLean (00:06:03) – How young were you, by the way?

Wink Lorch (00:06:05) – About 20.

Natalie MacLean (00:06:06) – Oh, okay. So you were legal, depending on what, the ages? Yeah.

Wink Lorch (00:06:11) – Yes. And I originally worked for wine importers in the UK, and whenever I went on a ski vacation, occasionally on the way up to the ski resort, I would see vineyards and I’d be going, wow, this really house here, what are they doing here? They’re very high and I really didn’t know anything more than that. And then just over 30 years ago, I invested in a small property in the French Alps and in Savoie. And that led me to discovering Savoie wine, because when I went, not necessarily in the winter, but if I went in the summer, I would always try and visit the nearby vineyards. And at the time, 30 years ago, these wines almost never left the region. so they were all sold to the thirsty tourists who were skiing in the winter, or just having a great time hiking or hanging around the lakes and the summer.

Wink Lorch (00:07:14) – So gradually I got to know them and then intrigued me because they tended to be made from unusual grapes, which among us who work in wine for a long time doesn’t love trying wines from a grape you’ve never heard of before. And they were light, fresh. I enjoyed them at the time. They weren’t high class wines, but I valued getting to know them and that was really about it for a while.

Natalie MacLean (00:07:45) – Let me just stop you there for a moment. Wink. Yeah. Having a home in the French Alps just sounds so romantic and so escapist fantasy. Like Peter. Mail in a year. Provence. Tell us what it looks like there. Paint a picture of the landscape. I mean, you’re driving and you’re seeing vines, so it’s obviously not all snow. And then you’re coming up to these. Well, you tell us, what is it like there?

Wink Lorch (00:08:07) – Well, where the area that I’m based in, albeit in a different home to formerly is a ski area. So these villages are not that remote.

Wink Lorch (00:08:19) – They’re ski resorts and so built up, but with drop dead gorgeous mountain views in the background and snow in the winter where I am based is not in the high Alps. Technically, it’s in what’s known as the pre Alps, which is a pretty important expression when it comes to wine as well, because the vineyards in Savoie are grown on the foothills of the preamps and not the foothills of the Alps. And the preamps is you have the same thing in South America. You have the Andes, and then you have what they call the pre cordillera. And these are lower mountain ranges that are actually geologically different. So coming back to the Alps, the preamps are limestone based and they’re older. And the big Alps where you’ve sort of got Mont Blanc and famous mountains like the Matterhorn in Switzerland and so on. They’re effectively granite based. And so there’s quite a difference when we come to talk about the wine. But yeah, in the views in the summer are very different to the winter. In the summer it is really Heidi Land if anybody’s heard of Heidi.

Natalie MacLean (00:09:39) – Heidi. Yes. She was always tending goats. That was a childhood story. She had various cheeses.

Wink Lorch (00:09:46) – Yeah, well it’s cows. Where I live is the heart of Revolution country, where Bashar is a soft cow cheese. And, it’s been made there for hundreds of years. this ski area that I’m in has got what we call real villages, rather than actually places built just for skiing. Well, which is what they did in the 1970s onwards, really for the ski industry. I’m actually in an area of real villages with a weekly market and cheese sales and farmer’s gorgeous hiking, and not too far from a fabulous city called Annecy. And Annecy, which has got a lake as well, is a beautiful place to visit. Everyone should go there once in the life.

Natalie MacLean (00:10:34) – That sounds beautiful. So while we’re talking geography, for those who aren’t familiar with exactly where the French Alps are and Jura by extension in eastern France, so they are along the border of Switzerland. But maybe you can paint a visual map of where we would find them.

Wink Lorch (00:10:51) – Absolutely. And also, this physical map might explain why Jura and Savoie used to be always linked together in wine books, and why magazines. These days, as they get better known, they’re beginning to be separated. I’m pleased to say, and I hope that I’ve been part of the driver for that separation. But so to picture it, you need to start with Geneva. So the city of Geneva in Switzerland is right on the border of France, and it’s at the western end of a big lake, which most of us English speaking people know of as Lake Geneva. But its technical name is Lake Lamont or Lake Lamont. So that runs from Geneva in the west to the east. And its northern and eastern shores are all Switzerland, and its southern shore is Savoie, or the upper part of Savoie in France. So try and picture Geneva in your mind and now go south and slightly west of there until you hit the city of Lyon. So Lyon is one of France’s most famous cities. It is, in wine terms, north of the Cote d’Azur area.

Wink Lorch (00:12:14) – So the Savoie wine area is a lot of little islands of vineyards because it’s a very, very small surface area of vineyards and they are interspersed between lakes, rivers and obviously they can’t be up those big mountains I talked about earlier. So there are many little islands spread out over a geographic area running south of Geneva towards Lyon, but not quite hitting Lyon, and then east over to the Italian border and the Alps, where Shamone is so Shamone. Mont Blanc is a pretty famous area as well. So there in these little parcels, obviously one needs a real map to see it. Jura, on the other hand, is not that far away in one sense, but it’s north west of Geneva. So before we were south and now we’re going north west of Geneva. So the Jura wine region is named after the Jura mountains. So the Jura mountains are an old range of mountains, that is a lower range of mountains in the Alps and runs down, forming a border between France and Switzerland on the east.

Wink Lorch (00:13:35) – So the Jura vineyards are on the lowest foothills of the Jura mountains, so west of the Jura mountains and west of them there is a big plane that’s called the Brest plane, and west of that is Burgundy. So Jura is closer to the vineyards of Burgundy, and the Savoie and alpine regions are closer to the vineyards of the northern Rhone. And indeed they have more in common with them as. And Jura has more in common with Burgundy.

Natalie MacLean (00:14:12) – Burgundy. And you once even said that. Is it Jura that is kind of like a mirror image of Burgundy in the way that the vineyards are planted.

Wink Lorch (00:14:21) – It is, in a sense, it’s more the geography or the geology of the area. And I had to do an awful lot of study, and it’s my weakest point. Geology and soils. When I was writing my books, I realized I had to have a chapter on the soils and the geology, and that was extremely challenging. And I sort of found geologists and soil specialists in the region to help me.

Wink Lorch (00:14:49) – And there’s a wonderful man called Michel Compy in the Jura who helped me in particular there, and he explained what happened. Now I’m hopeless on remembering figures as well, but we’re talking of millions and millions of years ago. So you had the whole of that area of France was covered in the sea. So that’s why we have calcium and why we have fossils. So if you think limestone of fossils.

Natalie MacLean (00:15:18) – Which create the limestone. Yeah. Okay.

Wink Lorch (00:15:21) – Exactly. It all comes from the fact that the area was covered in the sea. So Burgundy was as well. Burgundy and Jura is what I’m talking about at the moment. The Jura mountains emerged many, many millions and millions of years ago. And then much later, to the east of Jura, the French Alps or the Alps as a whole, which are a young mountain range. There was this up thrust and they arrived and they pushed. The Jura mountains westward, and they collapse into a series of plateau, and they created thereafter. There was this sort of dip, which is, I think also called the stone, which is the river graben.

Wink Lorch (00:16:08) – And then there were other sort of gentle mountains that form the hillsides of Burgundy that we know today. So we’ve suddenly got this sort of dip in the middle, and these two, the mirror images of Burgundy, of Jura over here, Burgundy over here. So what has happened is that both of them are known for very simple clay limestone soils. Except they’re not simple at all. They’re highly complicated, with all sorts of variations. But generally there’s more clay in the Jura and there’s more limestone in Burgundy. Huge generalization.

Natalie MacLean (00:16:50) – Herds. Okay, we’re into that here since we don’t have six hours on this podcast. But you were saying also that the wines or the vineyards of Jura tend to be planted facing west, whereas in Burgundy, you know, the Cote d’Azur you get southeast exposure, which is the coveted early morning sun. But is that also a facet of how the vineyards are planted in terms of being a mirror image that Jura tends to be facing west? I don’t know if it’s north west, but just west.

Wink Lorch (00:17:17) – Some of them are, but there are also, as usual in wine, it’s more complicated than that in that they’re not all just in one strip. There were little hills that broke off from the Jura mountains, and on those little hills you have some of the more famous vineyards, and they’ll be facing in all sorts of different directions.

Natalie MacLean (00:17:37) – Yeah, it’s amazing what’s happened, how the mountains in the hills have changed. You noted in one conversation there was or article, there’s a severe weather storm in 1248 and Mount Grenier. What happened to it? Something with the top of it fell off.

Wink Lorch (00:17:52) – Well, we have to move back down to Savoie for that. So I’m just going to park up Jura in order to answer your question, and we’ll move down to Savoie. So Mont Grenier is the northernmost mountain of a little pre alpine range. So a limestone range called the Chartreuse. And you’ll have heard of the monastery of Chartreuse and the liqueur that comes from there. And it’s all the same Chartreuse mountains, Mont Grenier, it is documented in church records.

Wink Lorch (00:18:28) – And otherwise we wouldn’t know this because 1248 there wasn’t that much publication about where the systems and so on. But apparently the month of November in 1248 was extremely wet. Massive rainstorms going on and on and on. Limestone is very soft. The mountains tend to have natural caves in them, and in this appalling weather in the middle of the night, the top of the mountain appears to have broken off, which then triggered a massive landslide. And this massive landslide buried everything in its path. And at the time they say about five settlements, small towns, villages, which would have been people living subsistence living, although the Alps were a crossroads. So I imagine there were travelers there. And so every single living being in the path of this landslide would have lost their lives. So all the people and all the animals and so on. And the landslide stopped just before this particular church or small monastery, which is how come they documented it. And for several hundred years nobody resettled that specific area. You know, there were rocks strewn everywhere.

Wink Lorch (00:19:57) – And then gradually by the 18th century. So several hundred years afterwards, they realized that they could it would be sensible to resettle it and that there was a certain amount of the debris that they could clear, and that if there was one crop that they could plant, it was vines, because vines can cope with a rocky surface. I mean, there was no way you could plant arable crops, and it wasn’t ideal for grazing cows either, because of all these rocks everywhere and no grass. So they planted vines. And the best known, not necessarily the finest area for vineyards, but the most densely planted area with these days are white grape called Chaka is in the foothills. Mom. Granny. Because mom granny still exists. And if I could be so bold as to show you the cover of this again, you could see my granny on there. So you see that vertical? That is where it fell off.

Natalie MacLean (00:21:06) – Wow, that is dramatic.

Wink Lorch (00:21:07) – And that’s why it’s that shape. And down under my fingers here, our vineyards.

Natalie MacLean (00:21:12) – And we’ll put a link in a picture of your book in the show notes. Wink for those who are listening only and aren’t seeing the video of our conversations. And so I was intrigued. The caves filled with water, the limestone caves filled with water and made the mountain very unstable as well.

Wink Lorch (00:21:28) – I believe so, and it’s still very unstable, although the experts that B say that there’s unlikely to be anything of the gravity of 1248, but in 2016 there were quite dramatic slides there. And of course these days they were videoed. If you can tap in French into YouTube, the word for landslide and just sort of play around in French and put in landslide among granny and 2016, you’ll find some pretty spectacular videos because there was one particular landslide that actually did cut off the main pass road that goes over there. It didn’t quite hit the vineyards or any of the villages. So, you know, there wasn’t any loss of life of anything like that.

Natalie MacLean (00:22:24) – Yeah. Oh, that reminds me of visiting Sicily and the lava flow coming right to a head before some vineyards.

Natalie MacLean (00:22:31) – And then they put up a Virgin Mary to statue, and it looks like she’s telling the lava to stop. That sort of reminds me a little bit of this church, Rose monastery. But that, as you say, is why we have the documentation. I don’t know if God intervened or if God caused the thing in the first place, or God has nothing.

Wink Lorch (00:22:48) – To do with it, I don’t know.

Natalie MacLean (00:22:49) – Anyway, that’s not for this podcast. But anyway, here we go. Now, another spot of history and I may be crisscrossing regions again. You can situate me because prior to this discussion, I had not read much at all about Jura and the French Alps. So you’re helping me and those who are listening to our conversation figure out the differences. But I wanted to just touch on another spot of history, and that is that Louis Pasteur made his home somewhere in this region. You’re going to tell me where in a moment, but just to I’m sure everybody’s heard of him. But he is the scientist who discovered pasteurisation, the partial sterilisation of a product like milk to make it safe for consumption, as well as the rabies vaccine and breakthroughs in wine and beer fermentation.

Natalie MacLean (00:23:34) – So where did he live? And is there a museum we can visit if we travel to the region?

Wink Lorch (00:23:38) – Well, Pasteur actually was born in the Jura, so he was born in a town called dull. But very soon after he was born, as a child, his family moved to Arbor. And Arbor is a beautiful little town which is the wine capital today of Jura, so we’re quite a way away. We’ve gone back up now to Arwa, and he spent his whole childhood there, and then he went for further education to bigger cities because he was so bright. He ended up in Paris. But what was interesting is that he had family in Shabwa, and he used to come back in the long summer vacation that the French have always been famous for, back in his day in the 19th century. And he was attached to a university in Paris, and he would get on a train, he would send his family on ahead, and then he would get on a train, and he would take his whole laboratory on the train, because he didn’t want to stop work.

Wink Lorch (00:24:44) – And he would set up a laboratory, a temporary one, in his vacation in the town of Shabwa, usually in a vigneron cellar. And he used the fact that there were vineyards there. There was also some very unusual wines being made insurer, which I hope we’ll get to talk about. Van John. So he used the fact that this was being made as part of his experiments, and it is said that he actually had his own vineyard, a small vineyard, and he conducted experiments in this vineyard. And the one that I love the most is that, I mean, he had a assistant, you know, he was pretty famous, but they went into the vineyard and just before harvest, before the grapes were fully ripe, and they decided to cover some of the bunches with the equivalent of cotton wool. And so, you know, there was no plastic in those days. But it’s like imagining if you put a plastic bag over. For a bunch of grapes, but there was no plastic, so he covered half of them of a certain row in cotton wool, and the other half he just left as they were.

Wink Lorch (00:25:59) – And then when the grapes were picked, the ones that had the cotton wool around them would not ferment because the yeast, the natural yeast on those bunches was not able to live, to breathe because the cotton wool was there, whereas the ones that were free, they fermented fine. And he did this to prove the fact that because at the time he was being disparaged and his theories were not liked and so on, and he used it to prove that yeast and bacteria and other small organisms could not exist without air present. I just find it amazing that. So in order to learn more about that, you can indeed visit. There are actually Pasteur museums in various different places. But in the Jura area there is the Maison de Pasteur, the Pasteur’s house, which is the old family house. And it’s recently had a refit because he’s recently had his 100th anniversary celebrated, or 100th anniversary of his, I should know death, I think, but I’m sure it’s not his birth anyway. So the Maison de Pasteur is something you can visit while in Iowa.

Natalie MacLean (00:27:19) – That sounds fabulous. Lots to do here, and we’ll get back to more tips on traveling there, because you are an expert in that as well. So let’s go back to the mountains. What effect do they have on the vineyards? Do they dictate the weather or heavily influence it?

Wink Lorch (00:27:32) – Certainly in Savoie in particular, where high mountains are closer, that’s what I really mean. The proper Alps are very, very close. And so they do have a big influence on the vineyards in that everything is more dramatic. So the rainfall will be heavier. When you do get hailstorms, they’ll be stronger. The valleys can actually get very hot. People think that this just cool climate area and the story, it’s not as simple as that. The summers can be very hot indeed. The vineyards tend to be on steep slopes facing mainly south in Savoie, and they are on hard rock, and so that can also reflect the sun. And so they’ll be pretty hot in summer. These days you don’t get much snow.

Wink Lorch (00:28:24) – I mean, climate change is being a huge factor in both Savoie and Jura. I know it’s a huge factor everywhere in the world, but in these areas that used to be somewhat marginal, which where 50 years ago, in many years the grapes didn’t properly ripen, whereas these days there’s never a problem with ripening. In fact, there are other issues and other problems.

Natalie MacLean (00:28:51) – What are the other problems that are coming up as a result?

Wink Lorch (00:28:54) – Well, the problems are that spring frost, for example, seems to happen more regularly than it did in that. I mean, it’s a worry even right now. I mean, it’s this February. The vines should be absolutely fast asleep right now in this part of France, and in fact, everywhere should be mid-winter, should be really cold. It’s been unseasonably warm. There has been very little snow. The ski areas are suffering with a lack of snow. Everybody’s already terrified that if this continues for the next few weeks, the vines will start to bud. Now, if they start to bud soon after, the leaves will start to form.

Wink Lorch (00:29:40) – If you then have got 3 or 4 leaves and April comes and we have a cold snap, that often happens, you can have potentially a loss of your whole crop in a bit of a spring frost. And this is what happened in 2021. And this is happening more and more frequently. And it’s much more dangerous than before because the vines are further advanced before the frost hits. So that’s one thing.

Natalie MacLean (00:30:11) – You know, that’s really interesting. Winc because in BC they just had an extreme cold snap and they say they’re going to have 97% crop loss. It’s incredible and devastating.

Wink Lorch (00:30:23) – Unfortunately, these desperate weather events are happening all over. And the other thing that happens that is more extreme than before is when they get hail storms. Both, both Jura and Savoie being not too far from mountains, are prone to hailstorms anyway, but in the past they would be very localized, just a small area somewhere. The hailstones. Would be sort of pea sized. And yes, there would be damage, but not nearly as devastating as today.

Wink Lorch (00:30:58) – These days there’s a risk that the hailstorms are with bigger stones for a start. I worked for a while for a news organization, for Wine Searcher, and we used to get feed from Agence France-Presse, and they would talk about in French, and they would write about the latest hail storms somewhere in France, in the vineyards. And they would use different words to describe the size of the hailstones. And they would say hailstones as big as pigeon eggs and go right, like, I know how big a pigeon egg is, but yeah, much bigger hailstones and much longer 20 minutes instead of three minutes and over a much bigger area. So these are some of the hazards. Then there’s drought problems even in these areas that are known for rain. And when the rain does come, it’s heavier and longer and therefore you have mildew problems. So the great side of climate change is that we’ve now got some fabulous red wines from Savoie and some fabulous red wines from Jura, if you can get them. But availability is very, very short.

Wink Lorch (00:32:17) – In the old days they were no good, now they’re great, but we can’t get them.

Natalie MacLean (00:32:22) – Yes. Well, yeah. You mentioned that production of this region is minuscule 0.2%, I believe, of all French wine, and only 6% of it is exported. So approximately how much is that? Like how many bottles or whatever do they produce a year?

Wink Lorch (00:32:37) – Okay. Well, just to clarify, the 0.2% Jura produces about point Asura and Savoie about the same size, about 2000 hectares or a little bit more. That’s about 5000 acres of vineyards in each. And then the French Alps has got some other little regions around. Bouygues is, and a few others that I include in my book, but altogether it’s still minuscule. So the production varies hugely. In Jura. It used to be that you would say there would be an average of 10 million bottles a year. That’s very, very little. I mean, there are big New world producers, wine producers out of Europe, wine producers that produce that one producer.

Wink Lorch (00:33:30) – So these days, with the difficult vintages that they’ve had, particularly in Jura, it can be as little as 5 million bottles. Exports in Jura have exploded and up at about 30%. Now in Savoie, the quantity produced is a little more than Jura because yields are a little higher. They haven’t had quite so many difficulties, but 12 to 15 million bottles a year, if anyone can picture that. And exports. I don’t have the latest figures, but they’ll be up at about 10% now. Something like that.

Natalie MacLean (00:34:10) – Oh, good to know. And so as you’ve said traditionally, these were wines were regarded as ski resort wines. In my mind, that conjures up something that’s best smothered with a cheese fondue or the equivalent of a traditional cruise ship food. But you said that these wines traditionally had a Beaujolais problem. What did you mean by that?

Wink Lorch (00:34:29) – Oh, did I say that? My goodness.

Natalie MacLean (00:34:33) – Yeah, in one conversation. That’s okay if you don’t recall it.

Wink Lorch (00:34:37) – Well, Savoie, we’re talking about rather than Jura, the two regions have really entirely different issues and so on.

Wink Lorch (00:34:45) – So the Savoie, which are the vineyards that are closest to famous ski resorts, like Val d’Isere, like Shimoni, like Maribel, Val Torrence, myself. So I’d throw a few in there, flan of Austria and my own ski resort. So I don’t want to tell anybody about La Grande. But on all of these ski resorts used to lap up all the wines that Savoie could produce more or less, and that is because they were frequented by mainly the French in the past. And the French are very loyal to their regional products. So when the French would go on holiday, they would always choose local wine, local food from wherever they went. That isn’t always the case of foreigners coming to France, who are sometimes looking for foods from home and drinks that they used to. So the. Problem that I would have been referring to that absolutely doesn’t exist anymore in Savoie is that 2030 years ago, the quality of Savoie wines was in many cases very ordinary and in some cases downright bad. And so what would happen would be that people on the ski holiday might say, well, we’ll have a Savoie wine then would be very disappointed in it and never buy it again.

Wink Lorch (00:36:19) – So they were sort of a victim of their own success, and they sold out easily because it’s a tiny, tiny region, but it pulled everywhere downwards. And that’s a little bit what happened in Beaujolais with the Beaujolais nouveau phenomenon again 30 odd years ago. But life is very different today. I’m very happy to say Beaujolais produces some fantastic wines and so does Savoie produce some fantastic wines, thanks really to new generations that see things differently and to have worked better in the vineyards, better in the winery and are commanding better prices and export helps to drive that. And so there’s an onward climb up the mountain, if you like, which is happening.

Natalie MacLean (00:37:09) – Well, yeah, absolutely. And you’ve noted that especially the wines of Jura have become sort of the darlings of sommeliers in high end Manhattan restaurants. Why? They’re I mean, I can understand that they’re probably very food friendly because they’re bright acidity and fresh. But why did New York City songs really glom onto the wines of Jura?

Wink Lorch (00:37:30) – Well, this really started about 12 years ago, really, I would say before my first book, which I’ll just show.

Natalie MacLean (00:37:39) – There you go. Another product placement.

Wink Lorch (00:37:42) – For sure, a wine. This book was published in 2014, ten years ago, which is why I’m doing a new 110 years on. So by the time that that book came out, Jura wines were very much present in the New York market. In fact, there was more selection of Jura wine in New York than there was in Paris. So why? It’s a very good question. I think it was a series of stars that aligned, first of all, all credit to a handful of US importers who had always been looking for European wines, especially French wines that were from smaller producers, had a stamp of authenticity, about originality and so on. So a few of them in their travels and realizing that Burgundy was going up in price and looking for something different, decided to take a look at Jura. And at the same time, the vineyards in Jura were beginning to do a better and better job, and what they discovered there surprised everybody as it surprised me on my first visits, because I discovered Jura much later than Savoie only 20 years ago, and I was astonished by the diversity of wines there that were nothing like any wines that I’d got to know anywhere in the world.

Wink Lorch (00:39:20) – And yes, Chardonnay is grown there. Yes, Chardonnay is the most planted variety, but with the noble exception of Monte Jura, the wines don’t taste like Chardonnay from anywhere else and really hard to compare. And there are also three indigenous. There’s Pinot Noir grown there too. After all, they’re close to Burgundy, but there are three indigenous varieties Sauvignon, trousseau and pulsar. And nobody had ever heard of these grapes and nobody understood the wines they were made from. And this presented a big challenge. But I think the New York market, and it’s not so much the high end restaurants that adopted this. It’s the more trendy restaurants and wine bars in South Manhattan in particular around sort of Greenwich and Tribeca. And around there there’s some very interesting wine stores, wine stores like Chambers Street that backed these wines. And that’s how it started. But there’s also something else that I don’t know whether I should dare say. I never know whether it was me who first said this or someone else. So if somebody is tuning in that said this first before me, I don’t know.

Wink Lorch (00:40:41) – But I do remember talking about this a long time ago. One of the curiosities was that the. Red wines were in particular enjoyed by switched on geeky wine drinkers in New York as long ago as 12 years ago. Now the red wines from Jura are very pale in colour. Crisp acidity, very low tannin, quite funky flavours, sort of funky, rambly, very earthy, unusual flavours. And I’m going to go back to the beginning, pale in colour. So at the time, about 12 years ago, there was these rumblings of people looking for something that was not exactly enjoyed by Robert Parker and his aficionados and his team. So these became the ultimate.

Natalie MacLean (00:41:43) – That being just for those who may not know, big US critic since retired. Wine advocate first to popularize scores out of 100. But yes. And he tend or people said he loved the big huge fruit bombs. But yes, I can imagine these would be almost the polar opposite.

Wink Lorch (00:41:58) – So these are diametrically opposite. So it was a little bit of that as well.

Wink Lorch (00:42:03) – It was a reaction almost. Wow. You know this is just the opposite. And then it snowballed from there. And then eventually people even on my first visits I said very rudely, very ignorantly, I said I didn’t want to try Chardonnay because there was so much Chardonnay all over the world that was mad. And it was disrespectful because there’s so much Chardonnay there. And then I discovered that their chardonnay was so different, and there were some really high quality Chardonnays being made there. And some of them can be compared with Burgundy. And although they’ve been going up and up and up in price from the Jura, the ones from Burgundy have been going up and up and up and up in price as well. And so there’s still a deal in comparison and quality wise. Endura. They’ve been going up and up and up as well. And so it’s a fascinating area. Unfortunately there isn’t enough to go around, especially from the trendy producers. So I would urge everybody to just keep looking at new names that you’ve not heard of before.

Wink Lorch (00:43:19) – And there are new names cropping up and being imported into every country of the world that loves good wine at the moment, but in minuscule quantities. And when I say minuscule quantities, importers are often given allocations of maybe 48 bottles of a particular cuvée of wine. So then they’ve got their string of customers they sell to. So they say to this restaurant, you can have three bottles they sell to this wine store, you can have three bottles.

Natalie MacLean (00:43:51) – Not a lot to go around. Right. So jump on it if you see these wines. Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with wink. Here are my takeaways. Number one, what is it about the wines of the French Alps and Jura that makes them so different from any other wine region in the world? Well, as Winc observes, although the regions produce wines like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the unique geography and geology make them nothing like their counterparts in other regions. Both Jura and Burgundy were once covered by the sea, which created the limestone and fossil rich soils that define their terroir.

Natalie MacLean (00:44:34) – Number two. How has climate change impacted the wine industry in the region? Wink explains that climate change has had a big impact in these areas that used to be somewhat marginal in terms of being even able to make wine, given the cold about 50 years ago. In many vintages, the grapes didn’t fully ripen. These days, there’s never a problem with ripening, and there are new problems like frequent spring frosts and unseasonably warm winters. On the positive side, Savoie now produces some fabulous red wines, which was unheard of in the past. And number three, how did their perception as ski resort wines negatively impact Jura and Savoy wineries? Wink says that a similar Beaujolais Nouveau effect of being cheap and cheerful was happening about 30 years ago. These regions produced very small quantities and often sold all their stock at ski resorts. In the areas French vacationers wanted to have a taste they were accustomed to. Unfortunately, many foreigners were disappointed and turned off from the region as a whole. This problem no longer exists as new generations have worked better in the vineyards, the winery and or therefore the wines are commanding better prices.

Natalie MacLean (00:45:50) – By the way, I wanted to add that the Chartreuse monastery that wink mentions is where the Carthusian monks started making the liqueur Chartreuse in 1737. This liqueur, which clocks in at about 55% alcohol, is a blend of 130 herbs and plants macerated or steeped in alcohol for about eight hours. Yellow chartreuse is sweeter than green chartreuse and has notes of honey and saffron, whereas green chartreuse is drier with aromas of lime and fresh herbs. In the show notes. You’ll find a full transcript of my conversation with wink, links to her website and books, the video versions of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube live, and where you can order my book online now. No matter where you live, you can also find a link to take a free online food and wine pairing class with me, called the five Wine and Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner and How to Fix Them Forever at Natalie MacLean. Com forward slash class. And that is all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean. Com forward slash 280. Email me if you have a SIP tip question, or would like to win a copy of the book on Jura wines.

Natalie MacLean (00:47:03) – Or if you’ve read my book or are in the process of reading it at Natalie at Natalie MacLean dot com. If you missed episode 80, go back and take a listen. I chat about the allure of wines from Provence, especially rosé with Jill Bath. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Jill Barth (00:47:22) – There is a preference for a pale rosé. I think that that’s the consumer’s idea that it embodies freshness and lightness. There also seems to be misconception that it’s going to be sweeter if it’s darker, and that’s not true at all. I’ve heard people I’m sharing wine with, and they’ll see a dark rosé and they’ll think, oh, I don’t like sweet wines, but it’s to do with the varieties of the grape and how long that juice has any amount of skin contact.

Natalie MacLean (00:47:48) – That makes total sense.

Jill Barth (00:47:49) – People do seem to like the light ones these days for, I think, reasons of aesthetics. Not necessarily that it influences the flavor as much as you might think.

Natalie MacLean (00:47:57) – Sure. And is there anything to the fact that if it’s a darker rosé, it’s going to be more full bodied? Did it get more skin contact, therefore more flavor? Or is that to a generalization that doesn’t always play out?

Jill Barth (00:48:11) – It probably doesn’t always play out, but it would hold true that darker skinned grapes that experience more skin contact during the winemaking are going to impart more of that color.

Natalie MacLean (00:48:26) – You won’t want to miss next week when we continue our chat with wink. If you liked this episode or learned even one thing from it, please email or tell one friend about the podcast this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in learning more about the wines of Jura and the French Alps. It’s easy to find my podcast. Just tell them to search for Natalie MacLean wine on their favorite podcast app, or they can listen to the show on my website. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a lovely wine from Jura. You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full bodied bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie MacLean. Com forward slash subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.