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I’m an unabashed Arbois enthusiast.

Screen shot 2010-07-22 at 10.56.18 AMEver since I uncorked a bottle of Philippe Bornard’s Pupillin de Gringlet, my palate, my enthusiasm and my cellar of Trousseau has been expanding dramatically. There is something special and innately familiar about the wines from this sleepy, off-the-grid region on the eastern border of France, near Switzerland.

Until recently, I’ve been focused on the Trousseau varietal. Then I was introduced to Stephane Tissot and this remarkably bright and refreshing and rich bottle of old vines Poulsard, the lightest of the reds from the region after Trousseau and Pinot Noir. This bottle is well…a dream and quite wonderful.

Never tasted Poulsard before? No matter. Don’t understand biodynamic wines? Not necessary. Don’t care about anything but taste…a non-wine geek? Perfect, prepare to be blown away.

Natural wine makers come in all shapes, from the lunatic fringe to the academic. I’m drawn to taste as the arbiter of value and natural as simply the guidelines to discover terroir. Stephane Tissot is the epitome of this approach.

Born into the wine world of Arbois on his parents vineyard, Domaine Andre et Mireille Tissot, he traveled the world to understand where he wanted to take his craft and his interest in biodynamic farming until he took over his family plots in Arbois and Cotes du Arbois in the Jura wine region.

His vineyards are 100% organic and biodynamically farmed since 1999 with Demeter certification. No fertilizers. No pesticides. Hand harvesting in small baskets. Indigenous grapes and yeasts and no added sulfur. Yields are kept at rigorously low levels—Stephane plants 12,000 rather than 6,000 vines per acre to let the grapes and the wine extract every mineral that the soil has to offer.

Technical. Impossibly rigid technique but unbelievably remarkable and accessible wine.

This Poulsard tastes clean and fresh…and the smell and the flavors are crisp, like a straight-from-the-garden-salad. There is a light richness to this wine, smooth tannins with ripe fruit, replete with berries but easy on the palate. Honestly, slightly chilled in a large goblet to relish in the color and aroma on a warm afternoon…Perfect!

I tasted the Tissot ’06 alongside the Arbois ’06 Poulsard “M” form Jacque Puffeney, the master of Arbois and the ’04 Ploussard de Monteiller from Evelyn and Pascal Clairet. Both remarkable Ploussards from great winemakers.

The “M” from Pufffeney was more mineral, deeply focused and layered. The Clairet’s Plousard was much lighter, salmon colored, wildly floral with faint fruit undertones. I like both of these wines very much…but the Tissot is more approachable and fulfilling and for the newbie to Poulsard, I would start with the Tissot then try the others.

It is remarkable that three organic Ploussards from the tiny village of Arbois in a quiet spot in eastern France can be so uniquely different…and wonderful. These winemakers understand terroir…from one vineyard and hillside to the next. They are not manufacturing a taste to define the grape, they are discovering it.

I strongly recommend this Poulsard from Tissot. At $20 a bottle, this will better your day, broaden your palate and open up a passion for these great wines from the Jura.

Available from Chambers Street Wines. Ask for Sophie Barrett, the Jura Queen, for info and recommendations.

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