Located in the sparsely-populated hills between Burgundy and Switzerland, the Jura is France's smallest designated wine region and also one of its least known but most complex, interesting and rewarding. Based just north of the wine-making capital Arbois in the hill village of Montigny-lès-Arsures, Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot is a family-run operation producing the full gamut of the region's wine styles. Brother and sister Jean-Christophe and Valérie Tissot look after the vinification and viticulture respectively and their wines have recently started to gain international recognition. Today sparkling 'Crémant de Jura' accounts for more than 25% of overall production and J-C and V make a textbook version, from pure Chardonnay that has a lovely creamy mousse and an elegant orchard fruit palate. They also cultivate the more traditional local grape Savagnin to produce a deliberately oxidative, sherry-like still, dry white wine that makes a perfect partner to air-dried ham or comté cheese. It is also the only permitted grape in the Jura's most famous product 'Vin Jaune' - a rich, yellow, long-lived, saline-edged speciality that is matured in casks for a minimum of 6 years and 3 months before bottling in distinctive 62 centilitre brown clavelins. The Tissots also produce some commendable red wines from native grape varieties. Their pale 'Poulsard' is not unlike a deep rosé, with delicate hedgerow-berry scents and flavours and the gentlest of tannins. Its' 'Trousseau' stablemate is denser and darker with more tannic grip and spicy undertones, making a fine partner to the local Morteau sausage.
If that weren't enough to contend with, Jean-Christophe and Valérie also make a modicum of heady, sweet 'Vin de Paille' from a blend of Savagnin, Poulsard and Chardonnay grapes that are loft-dried on beds of straw over winter. The resultant juice is matured in barrel for 3 years before release, transforming it into an unctuous nectar with a complex palate of candied peel, honey, nuts and raisins.