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Vin Jaune – France’s “Yellow Wine

Vin Jaune originates from the Jura, located to the east of the Côte d’Or next to the Swiss border under Alsace, and is the smallest wine district in France.   This area is dominated by the forested Jura Mountains and provides a geographical measure of detachment that allowed certain traditional wine styles and grapes to persist in the region. The vineyards of this region generally rests on Jurassic limestone (with plenty of fossils) and marl with clay along the lowest sites. Vin Jaune (or “Yellow Wine”), is made exclusively from Savagnin, a white grape that is primarily located in the Jura but there are some traces in Germany, Alsace, Austria and Australia. In France it is grown mainly in the appellations of Arbois, Côtes du Jura and L’Étoile and Château-Chalon, the latter AOC being reserved for Vin Jaune only.  

The region is the wettest wine region in France with an average rainfall of 1 100mm per year, however normally the late summer and early autumn are quite dry.  Grapes are picked when over ripe and even sometimes traces of Botrytis cinerea (or “Noble rot”) can be found. The wine is fermented dry in second or more filled barrels. It is produced in a similar fashion to Fino Sherry and gets it character from being matured in a barrel under a film of yeast for 6 years and 3 months, with no refill in the barrel and therefore no sulphur dioxide.  A bio film of yeast known as the “voile” forms at the top of the wine in the barrel, protecting against oxidation.

The difference from Fino Sherry is that Vin Jaune is not fortified and does not go through the Solera system. The final product is one of the driest white wines produced in the world.

Vin Jaune is sold in a specific bottle, called the “clavelin”.  It has a particular shape which contains 62cl wine. This amount corresponds to the volume of Vin Jaune obtained after vinification and aging for 6 years, from one litre of grape juice (after evaporation).

Ideally, Vin Jaune is served chilled, around 12°C, in a classic wine glass.

A few known facts about Vin Jaune:

  • Napoleon III liked it so much he called it “The Best Wine in the World”.

  • In 1994 a bottle of the 1774 vintage was tasted and received a score of 95/100 from the judges.

  • In the Jura red wines are usually tasted first, followed by the powerful white wines.

Domaine Rolet Père & Fils is a 2nd generation family owned estate, first created by Désiré Rolet in 1942 and taken over by his children, Eliane, Bernard, Guy and Pierre in 1958. The Domaine has approximately 60ha of vineyards and is the second biggest Domaine in the region.  36ha of the vines are located in the AOC Arbois and is planted with all the accepted cultivars: Poulsard, Trousseau, Savagnin, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Another 21 ha is located in the AOC Côtes du Jura and is planted with Chardonnay and Savagnin while the 3 ha in L’Étoile is planted with Chardonnay. 

Domaine Rolet Vin Jaune 2008:


The wine displays a lovely pale yellow colour in the small preferred glass.  A powerful nutty bouquet on the nose that is refreshingly clean and pure followed by a surprise on the palate, where it is powerful and dry, yet not acidic as expected with a very long aftertaste.

Restaurant Mosaic is the only importers of this wine in South Africa and pair it with our specially imported 36 month old Comté cheese.

Score 90/100