Vin de Paille
40% Chardonnay, 40% Savagnin, and 20% Poulsard from 17 year old vines planted on gravel/marl soil. “Paille” means “straw” and refers to the straw mats the grapes dry on. In Germany it is called strohwein, or straw-wine. This type of wine was much more prevalent in the 19th century but today is a rarity. It can be found in Hermitage from a few top houses like Chave as well as in the Jura, where the potential alcohol must be higher. Berthet-Bondet makes a small amount of it and it is superb. The blend of Chardonnay, Savagnin and Poulsard grapes that goes together to make this special wine varies from year to year depending on the harvest and condition of each variety. In the same way, the length of time that the grapes are left to dry, on racks in the drying room, before pressing will vary depending on the initial amount of juice in the grapes. In recent years the drying period has been about 3 months. After developing for 18 months in barrels and 18 months in tanks, the resulting wine has structure, and varies from 14 to 15% alcohol and 100 to 110 grams of residual sugar per liter. The wine has developed a rich flavor with a bouquet principally of dried fruits and jams (apricot, quince). It can be kept for more than 20 years and should be served chilled (8ºC).
About the Producer
In 1985, Chantal and Jean Berthet-Bondet took over a domaine that had not been producing wine for 50 years, and brought it back to life. In 2017, their daughter Hélène succeeded them, helped by her husband and two children. The vineyards spread on 15 hectares, 4.5ha of Savagnin in Château-Chalon and 10.5ha of Chardonnay, Savagnin, Trousseau, Poulsard and Pinot Noir in Côtes-du-Jura appellation. A new plot of Chardonnay was planted in 2022, using for the first time massal selection and young plants from the Bérillon nurseries. The vineyard is off to a magnificient start. Château-Chalon possesses the noblest terroir in the Jura region. A composition of limestone and red and gray marl confers both power and great finesse to these wines.
The classic wine of the Jura is the “vin de voile,” a technique otherwise practiced only by Spanish sherry producers. During barrel aging, casks are only partially filled with wine. This provokes the formation of a film of yeast on the exposed portion, protecting the wine from oxidation and giving it a unique flavor of dried fruits and nuts. Also, the logic of the aging cellar is the opposite of that for classic wine-making. Like a sherry cave, these cellars are dry and well ventilated, with enormous variations in temperature. Interestingly enough, this region of France remained a Spanish possession until 1660. Bondet also produces non-oxidized whites, and reds.
Bondet uses indigenous yeasts, except for the Crémant. By precaution Hélène prepares a "pied de cuve" to start the fermentations of the various cuves. This is made from a small quantity of grapes that ferments spontaneously. She verifies with the lab that these are the right yeasts before incorporating them into the cuves. Selected yeasts are used for the second fermentation of the crémant.
Farming practices: The domaine is certified organic since 2013. The wines are vegan (when fined, which is rare, it is with bentonite).
Vintage notes for 2022: The vineyards managed to escape spring frost and the season went well until the summer, during which the extreme drought was detrimental to certain plots. Triggered by the hydric stress, the vines shut down. The rains that happened at the end of August saved the vintage. The vines resumed their ripening process and yields were good. This relatively generous 2022 harvest was welcomed with great relief after the very low yields of 2021. However, the vinifications are difficult and some of them are taking a long time.... so there is still work to be done in the cellar and we will have to be patient before seeing some of the wines in bottles!
Photos of the domaine