Savagnin, Château d'Arlay, 2004
When somebody asks me for my favourite wines, the ones of the Château d'Arlay allways come to my mind. A long time ago a visit to this castle made me discover the Jura-wines (we went for the interior and the birds of prey when my daughter was still very young and i was not yet into wine). The more I learned about them the more they started to fascinate me and the more I started to appreciate them, and today I cherish my last Arlay bottles, and if there is one domaine I would like to revisit to stock up it is this one.
The tradition of winemaking in this place goes back to the 11th century and the history of the castle reads like a novel. Today it is owned by the Arenberg family, but if you look at the titles of the Queen of the Netherlands you will notice the title "Baron van Arlay". It goes back to the Comte de Chalon-Armay, Prince of Orange, who lost his life on the battlefield in 1530. His titles went to his nephew René of Nassau and so the William the Silent, the founding father of the Netherlands, and ancestor of the actual royal family. The words "Je Maintiendrai" in the weapon of he Dutch queen come from this castle, which according to some sources would be the oldest wine-castle of France.
For a period however winemaking disappeared here, and in 1960 earl Renaud de Laguiche replanted them. Today there is 25ha of savagnin, chardonnay, trousseau, poulsard and pinot noir. Winemaking is extremely traditional, though a bit secretive. You can't find a lot of info on these wines, but they are absolutely very special. Almost all of them are made to cellar long and are often bottled only after three years of ripening in the vats of the castle. They are strange and sometimes unsettling, and the Corail, a rosé is one of the strangest rosés I know, but i love it (it gets quite old). There is a very interesting video on the castle here: http://vimeo.com/10083888
I opened this 100% savagnin today to go with a mushroom risotto, a very good combination. It's a 2004, only bottled in 2008, and bought in the castle's shop. Only 2000 were made, and on the castle's website there is no mention of it, so I don't know if they continued this cuvée. Every time I opened one of the four bottles i originally bought, I had a completely different wine, from "dry whiskey without the alcohol" when just bottled to something buttery, almost chardonnay like two years later and to something rich and slightly sweet that reminded me of a dish with roasted chestnuts that have become mellow and caramelised. It had an immensely long and interesting finish. I loved it, it's drinking history and enjoying it. One really should try this at least once in a lifetime...
I did yesterday, and enjoyed it !!