Perhaps the most famous grape to emerge from the Jura region in France, Savagnin is used to make dry whites, the sweet Vin de Paille and the remarkable Vin Jaune wines.
Vin de Paille is a sweet wine, made using Savagnin grapes that have been dried on straw mats over a period of several months. These wines show aromas of honey, spiced bread or fruit cake, candied fruits and also a slight nuttiness if made in an oxidative style.
Vin Jaune, perhaps the most famous wine to come out of Jura, is made in a style similar to Fino Sherry in Jerez, Spain. The Savagnin must is put into barrels, with plenty of room at the top, allowing oxygen to reach the wine. Over a period of years, a layer of yeast grows across the surface of the wine, much like Flor in Sherry, which imparts a distinct nutty character. Vin Jaune is made in the appellations of Arbois, Etoile, Cotes du Jura, and the highly regarded Chateau-Chalon. Best paired with walnuts and Comte cheese.
As a single varietal wine, Savagnin can be quite versatile. When made without oxidative handling, Savagnin produces light-bodied, elegant whites, with aromas of apple, blossom, ripe stone fruits and citrus. When produced in an oxidative style, the wines tend to show spice, yellow or brown apple, and salinity. Both styles match well with chicken and mushroom dishes, smoked fish or, of course, Comte cheese.