François Rousset-Martin | A Savagnin virtuoso

Originally from the Jura, François Rousset-Martin grew up in Beaune where he developed a true passion for wine and for the vine. After studying biology and oenology, he took up his family’s domain in 2007, back in his native Jura, just a few kilometres south of Château Chalon. Upon his arrival, he started by working with the local cooperative whilst vinifying some of his produce himself. He quickly got a taste for this and left the cooperative in 2018 to craft his own wines from 10 hectares of vineyard.

François Rousset-Martin undoubtedly owes his passion for wine and the vineyard to his family origins: his grandfather always kept a few vines to vinify for the enjoyment of his loved ones. His father, who inherited this “bad habit”, moved to Beaune to work as a doctor at the famous Hospices de Beaune. This is where our producer’s interest starts to take shape. He spent many years kicking around the region, visiting some of the most beautiful villages – whether the northern home to fine reds like Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, and Chambolle-Musigny, or the southern land of delectable whites, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Meursault. Eventually, Dijon was his destination of choice to pursue studies in oenology and biology.

Diploma in hand, François knew all the theory for how to make a good wine but had little experience on the ground. He returned to Beaune, hoping to find work at a domain…and stopped his search upon learning that he could take up the family estate in the Jura, where he settled right in. He arrived in Nevy-sur-Seille in 2007, just a few kilometres south of Château Chalon, and this is where he has stayed. François started off with some rented vines before buying them little by little. At this stage, he was working closely with the local cooperative. “Back then, the cooperative cellar suited me. It was a comfortable way of life, I had a regular income, and I took very few risks. But by vinifying my own cuvée on the side, I got a taste for that aspect of things. I was working on wine that better represented me: there was no sulphur added and I let them age at length so they could develop a good complexity. The feedback I got from clients was very positive, with some considering my cuvées to be ‘rare’! In 2018 I took the decision to fully go it alone, leaving the cooperative cellar to vinify my 10 hectares of vineland.

At the domain, François has seven others working with him on a full-time basis. From his time in Burgundy he has retained an appreciation for single-parcel cuvées; these allow for the characteristics of a certain terroir to be put in the spotlight. And it should be said that he isn’t miserly when it comes to terroir, with a great range of parcels around Château-Chalon, Clos Bacchus, Puits Saint-Pierre, and Sous Roche. Of his 10 hectares, 7 are planted with Savagnin, a varietal this producer holds close to his heart, as much for its origins as for its aromatic prowess. The rest of the land is used for growing Chardonnay (2 hectares), Pinot noir and Poulsard. This brings the best of Burgundy and the Jura together on a single estate!

This producer doesn’t lay claim to a particular appellation – his wines are mainly produced as Vin de France or Côtes du Jura – nor does he use labels. Yet the eco-friendly principles applied throughout this work, especially since 2015, are reminiscent of those we would expect from a certified organic domain. Yields are controlled masterfully and the grapes are vinified separately in order to produce single-parcel cuvées. Ouillé (topped-up) wines are crafted here, which isn’t so in keeping with Jura tradition. After a long pressing, the juice is decanted into vats before being transferred to oak casks for fermentation; this process makes use only of wild yeasts. Since the 2015 vintage, no sulphur has been added to the wine. These cuvées are matured for a long time, at least two years, and François would like to extend this further. Today, between 40,000 and 50,000 bottles are released from the domain every year.

See the cuvées from François Rousset-Martin available at iDealwine