Feeling a little delicate today, I turn to my food bible, a wonderful hand-written gem of a recipe book, found in the barn recently. It dates from the 1890s and also serves as a paper apothecary, describing remedies for everything from blackheads to red-wine stains. Looking in the mirror, I have a tired complexion after all this “ bonne année” and booze. I flick through the dusty pages to look for some kind of feel-good facial. Here we are… a recipe for soft skin. I giggle as I read:
“ To be applied every morning onto both cheeks:
A small veal steak, the thinnest available. Leave one on both cheeks for an hour. Attach with a scarf, tied around your head.”
Ha ha! I decide that maybe I shall simply have a few days off from alcohol and drink lots of water.
The “apéro”, last night, started with a glass or two of “Vin Jaune”, accompanied by little pieces of Comté cheese, walnuts and hazelnuts.
Although I may regret my appearance today, I certainly don’t regret drinking Vin Jaune. It has a wonderful, glossy, golden-yellow colour .It surprises your nose and taste buds with an array of walnut, dried fruit and spicy, saffron aromas. This powerful combination perfectly complimented the nuts and cheese and prepared our palates for the meal to follow, a fragrant Moroccan couscous.
The particular nature of yellow wine comes from the strict production specifications, protected by the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). It must be aged for at least 6 years and 3 months, in a slightly porous, oak barrel. A layer of yeast develops on top of the wine and prevents excessive oxidation. This method (similar to Sherry making techniques), helps the wine to develop its mysterious, complex characteristics. When the ageing process is finished, it is bottled, (just to perpetuate its pedantic individual nature!) in an unusual bottle of 62cl.That’s right, not 65cl, but 62cl!Prices start at around 20€ depending on the vintage. Although it seems expensive, it’s quite a frugal drink, so rich and strong, that you can’t drink it quickly. It’s a great investment to celebrate special events coming up in 2014, or an unusual present idea. There is even a yellow wine festival, La Percée du vin jaune, so called because they literally crack open the barrel and taste the first symbolic drops of the year’s production. It is worth a visit if you’re ever in the region in February. 40 000 people attended last year.
Château Chalon in Summer, one of the 4 AOC areas and the birthplace of Vin Jaune. The other AOCs are Etoile, Arbois and Côtes du Jura.