It’s a warm day in June and we meet Valentin in Les Trouillots parcel overlooking Poligny. At a slight 5’9” and with seemingly endless energy, Valentin bounds towards us after inspecting his apprentices’ work on his Chardonnay vines. After a cold spring, the vines are catching up for lost time, and luckily, Poligny has been spared the double whammy of the 2019 frosts. Valentin is unfortunately well-acquainted with frost. In 2017, a frost on the 16th week of the year (around April 20th) devastated the vast majority of his vines. The resulting blend of what remained of the Trouillots’ red grapes — “Semaine 16”— is a lush blend of all of the red wine grapes in the ‘Les Trouillots’ vineyard: Poulsard, Trousseau, Pinot Noir.
A zealous disciple of biodynamics, and specifically Masanobu Fukuoka, we walk amongst the sweet peas acting as “engrais vert” (green fertilizer) planted in between his vines. The plants won’t be plowed but simply rolled, and the resulting crushed plants will slowly release nitrates into the soil.
A brief question about soil composition leads to Valentin digging through the dirt to unearth a small boulder. We learned that the Trouillots slope, like much of this corner of the Jura, is on calcaire à gryphées (limestone with mollusk shells.) Gryphées are the gryphea, or “devil’s toenail” mollusk, that is typical of the Triassic and Jurassic periods.
The lesson continues at lunch and we delve into the prehistoric geology of the Jura. A friend and fellow Jurassic intellectual, Michel Campy, has released an in-depth tome of the soil types of the Jura: “Terroirs Viticoles du Jura” (so detailed that ‘Les Trouillots’ has its own page.)
Geology lesson over, we tasted through the red 2018s and white 2017s in the cellar. As is typical in the Jura, the whites are aged longer than the reds. All of his wines are straight to the point, slightly tense and vibrant, much like Valentin himself. This year, he’s added another feather to his cap, vinifying a “Poulsard Blanc,” a direct press Poulsard that Valentin had always wanted to make when he had an adequate Poulsard harvest.
After the tasting we found what was missing from 99.99% of French wine tasting visits: a good coffee. Valentin’s friend, a Belgian former coffee importer, has set up a coffee roaster in a shed on the outskirts of Poligny and just next to Valentin’s cellar. A perfect, fresh-roasted coffee in a shack in wine country? In Poligny, anything is possible.