Jurançon is located in the southern portion of Southwest France, quite far from Bordeaux, but the sought-after sweet wines made here are notably similar to Sauternes cuvées. They have a similarly rich, honeyed flavor, although Jurançon wines are more floral than fruity. There has been some controversy over whether Jurançon wines are actually botrytized, and it has come to light that some of them may merely be late-harvested. Not surprisingly, the best are indeed botrytized by the Sauternes method.
Jurançon vineyards are in 25 villages and encompass about 2,000 acres. About 400,000 cases of wine are produced here each year, but this is a tricky figure, because only about 100,000 of these are sweet Jurançon. The remaining 300,000 are the much less well-known dry Jurançon Sec styles.
Although Jurançon does not have a long winemaking history, it was officially recognized in 1936, making it one of the first appellations in France to receive its AOC status.
Climate and Viticulture
Situated close to the southern border of France, in the foothills of the Pyrenées mountains, these vineyards benefit from a warm, rainy Mediterranean climate. The best vineyards are located on steep mountain terraces with limestone soils.
The grapes used in Jurançon are local grapes only: Gros Manseng, Petite Manseng, Petite Courbu, and Courbu Blanc. In general, these high-status wines are rich and honeyed, and offer up a bouquet of floral nuances, spice, and quince. The dry wines are more average, with citrussy flavors.
We list five producers who offer great Jurançon.
- Domaine Castera: Castera produces a powerful, intense, floral Jurançon Sec from Gros Manseng. Floral nuances and tropical fruit flavors characterize the Petite Manseng-based sweet wine, which should be aged for at least several years before drinking. The Privilege cuvée is varietal Petite Manseng, made from grapes harvested in late November; its flavors are of shockingly rich honey, spice, fruit, and white truffles.
- Domaine Cauhape: The dry wines here are all good, but the sweet wines are better: the Ballet d'Octobre and Symphony d'Novembre are named based on the month the grapes are harvested, while the Noblesse du Temps is the most idiosyncratic wine, with breaded notes of flowers and quince. This wine is said to be ageable for up to 20 years. The golden-colored Quintessence and Folie de Janvier cuvées have boutique prices.
- Clos Lapeyre: Both the balanced, citrussy Sec and the fresh, floral sweet wine are good here. The complex, delicate La Magendia and the candied, full-bodied Balaguèr are two cuvées with opposite styles.
- Clos Uroulat: Uroulat makes both a sweet and a dry Jurançon. The sweet wine is made from Petite Manseng and has acidic flavors of exotic tropical fruit. The fragrant dry wine is made from Gros Manseng.
- Domaine Larrédya: This producer is very solid. The dry and sweet wines are good, but higher up the scale the Les Terrasses has richer scents of fruit and truffle. The boutique cuvée is called Simon.
No subregions of note.