Arbois is the main wine producing region of Jura, in the east of France. Spanning 13 towns and vineyards, Arbois covers 850 hectares of wine producing land. Its wines are known for their wide range of colours, with reds often described as rubis (ruby) or corail (coral). The word arbois is derived from the Celtic term for “fertile soil”, probably due to the alluvial soils surrounding the Cuisance River.
The terroir is largely of marlstones and limestone, alongside soils containing sand and clay. It has warm summers and cold winters, effects of its elevation (around 350 metres above sea level) and the effects of continental weather systems. As such, grapes such as Savagnin, which are harvested late, are prone to early Autumnal ground frosts. For this reason, high trellising is often used for the vines, keeping the grapes away from the cold earth.
Alongside Savagnin, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Ploussard/Poulsard are also used to various degrees. Around 70 per cent of red wine in Jura comes from Arbois, along with 30 per cent of whites. Poulsard is the key red variety used here, and is used to colour rosé. Red grapes can make up to a fifth of white wines in Arbois. Sparkling wines are also produced here, using similar techniques to those used in Champagne.
The main region, Jura, is relatively small, producing just about one per cent of France’s total wine yield on 2050 hectares (down from 20,000 in the 19th century). It is also one of the oldest winemaking regions of the country.