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Croix & Courbet

Pristine Jura from Two Talented Winegrowers

For those new to the name, David Croix is something of a big deal in Burgundy. At the age of 24 (then a precocious talent and working at Comte Armand with Benjamin Leroux), Croix was offered the top job at the historic négociant Camille Giroud. It was a remarkable achievement for such a young vigneron. As his profile rose, Croix came to be known as un homme sérieux in Burgundian circles, a conscientious and gifted winegrower and winemaker, with a maturity well beyond his years. By 2005 he was hand-picked by Becky Wasserman to manage and turn around the underperforming Beaune estate, Domaine Duchet, which had recently been bought by a group of investors. That estate became Domaine des Croix and is an underperformer no more. 

Before all this, Croix could be found in Dijon studying for his Diplôme National d’Oenologue. It was here that he struck up a friendship with Damien Courbet (the son of noted Jura grower Jean-Marie Courbet), a bond that lasts to this day. As Croix went to Pommard, Damien Courbet took a different route, working in South Africa, California and other regions of France before returning to his family domaine in 2003. Based in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hamlet of Nevy-sur-Seille, Domaine Courbet was established in 1869 and today comprises 7.5 hectares of vineyards. Roughly half of these are located on the slopes directly below Château-Chalon, with the balance of the vineyards located nearby in the communes of Domblans and Menétru-le-Vignoble. No sooner than he arrived, Courbet ushered in an organic regime in the vineyards (today the domaine is certified biodynamic) and realigned the winemaking ethos along more traditional, non-interventionist lines. 

Croix and Courbet agreed to start with three different expressions of Savagnin ouillé (‘filled up’), the emphasis being on purity and terroir rather than flor-aging notes. The Côtes du Jura is a blend of Arbois, Passenans and Château-Chalon, and their two single vineyard wines come from vines in Arbois and Château-Chalon respectively.

Croix’s home in Beaune lies just over one hour’s drive from Courbet’s domaine. Over the years, the two growers and friends started talking about a project together in Jura, presumably under the influence of one too many glasses of Courbet’s Château-Chalon (which, we are told, is one of appellation’s finest). The venture finally came to fruition in early 2019 when Courbet, seeing quality grape contracts increasingly hard to come by, said to his friend: “it has to be now or never”. As Paul Wasserman writes, “David had always had a soft spot for Jura wines, and the opportunity to purchase impeccable, organically farmed (either certified or in conversion) grapes from great terroirs was too good for either of them to pass up.”

The style of the wines hinges on purity and tension, so don’t come here looking for overtly nutty Savagnin sous voile. The wines are made in Nevy-sur-Seille, with both men overseeing harvest and vinification (Croix visits at least once a week). The winemaking is strictly artisanal, with reliance on native yeasts and, because Courbet believes that as a varietal Savagnin is “more robust than Chardonnay,” this allows the pair to keep sulphur doses to the bare minimum. The wines are raised in large-format oak or concrete eggs depending on the source. It may have taken us a little time to find a Jura producer we could all get behind—but then, you’ve heard the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare…

Currently Available

Croix & Courbet Arbois En Chemenot Savagnin Ouillé 2021

Croix & Courbet Arbois En Chemenot Savagnin Ouillé 2021

100% Savagnin (ouillé). The Arbois lieu-dit of En Chemenot lies just east of the village (Domaine des Cavarodes produces a Poulsard from the same site). This north-facing hillside plot at 350 metres elevation sits on blue and grey marl. The Savagnin was planted in 2004, and the vineyard is managed using organic and biodynamic methods. Courbet is delighted with the quality coming from these vines (a portion of which is also used for the Côtes du Jura blend). The winemaking here was similar to the Côtes du Jura—hand harvest, natural yeasts, low sulphur, etc. This cuvée was vinified in cement egg tank (90%) and a one-year-old barrel. Croix likes the tension and minerality the egg brings to the density of this vineyard’s fruit. And tension is again the word. On the nose, there’s lifted green pear and ginger spice, honeysuckle too: really inviting, leading to a linear palate draped in citrus, pithy and saline nuance. Then, there’s a cool hint of fresh cucumber, pink salt, and some classy lees again. Long and driven, it’s a wine that loves air (and food). Give it a good decant. It was (by the way) pH 3.1 after malo! Again, any seafood, Comté or other hard cheeses, or roast chicken and grilled pork chops would make for terrific matches. 

Croix & Courbet Arbois En Chemenot Savagnin Ouillé 2021

Country

France

Primary Region

Jura

People

Winemakers: David Croix and Damien Courbet

Availability

National

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