Welcome to Jura, France. Rolling, subalpine, not-quite-Swiss-but-nearly. If you are a cow, in Jura, you may be lucky enough to make Gruyère de Comté cheese. But you must have your very own 0.76923 Ha of pasture, at least. That’s right 1.3 cows per/ha, 1.4 is right out, forget it, no cheese. You must also be a Montbéliarde cow or a French Simmental cow (or a hybrid of the two). If you are a Jersey cow, soz. Or a Fresian? No. A svelte Murray Grey? (quietly my favorite) Nope. I'm just listing cows now... the point is, vive les AOC.
The appellation controls in Europe are a guarantee of quality at a particular value level. At a higher level it protects precious organoleptic ideas about place and cherishes them. Granted Europe has had roughly 800 years of figuring out what works well and where, and it mostly works well for the consumer, but is it valid for Australia? Maybe with more time. It'd certainly stop us doing things strange things like planting grapes in deserts and pumping vast amount of water from one big river onto them.
Jura has a few interesting local grapes permitted in is AOCs, the most special perhaps is Savagnin ('sah-va-nyan') not to be confused with Sauvignon. It is used in the unique 'vin jaune' or yellow wine which is made similarly to flor sherry, where a yeast film (voile) grows over the wine's surface in the barrel to impart it's nutty aldehydic aroma, backed up by the rapier-like acidity of the grape itself (without a fortifying spirit). Louis Pasteur lived in Arbois so it seems appropriate for him to be in a place rich in yeast films. The local red varieties Trousseau and Poulsard (Ploussard in the village of Pupillin) are also worth trying. (The former being the more gutsy and coloured of the two is also used in Portugal as a Port wine variety under the doppelganger 'Bastardo' because it's an absolutely back-breaking stubborn mule of a variety to grow).
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are permitted too. But it's Chardonay's noblesse that is really elevated here and while different to Burgundy it really can be just as special, just as complex and particularly lip-smackingly energetic. Fabrice Dodane's Chardonnay les Brûlées is exceptional. A good excercise would be to try this wine alongside a top notch white Burgundy and a top notch Chablis to see three very different faces of Chardonnay from the most exceptional terriors. None of which would be blousy, bulky or buttery. Fabrice's tipple is adrenally racy.
Fabrice acquired the Arbois based Domaine de Saint Pierre in 2011 and expanded it to 6 hectares of plantings (not a lot). The Arbois villages containing the vineyards are sweetly named: Vadans, Mathenay, Arbois and Pupillin. This Chardonnay is from Mathenay specifically. He produces organically and biodynamically and all that but so does just about everyone in Arbois. He uses no sulphur dioxide in most instances or very little when he deems it necessary (this wine has a bit). He makes very traditional fully oxidative vin jaune (6 years and three months in barrel so very very nutty), semi-oxidative Savagnin (a little bit nutty) and a more contemporary style of reductive* Chardonnay (this wine, not nutty). It's quite a wide angle point of view for a single producer with such a small holding but all wines are very respectful to their terroir and appellation's heritage. All are fascinating drinks.
Some notes - Cordite, dried limes and flowers on the nose. Apple skin. Green nectarines. Fruit Tingles. Super super saturated flavour on the palate, very persistent, even, centred, succulent and morish. In Arbois they say - "Arbois wine: the more you drink, the more it goes right!". Funny what alcohol does..
* Reductive means the opposite of oxidative, so atmospheric oxygen is excluded from the entirety of the process. Oxidative handling is the opposite and need to be controlled, it's mostly not desirable in wine but when managed carefully and slowly it can work in some styles of wine leaving it with a very nutty and drying sensation that tends to pinch the back palate. It's a very difficult balance to achieve.