The wine writer Jon Bonné once cited the phrase “the world’s happiest wine” as what finally sold him on the delicious mousseaux (sparkling, often Gamay-based wines) from the alpine appellation Bugey-Cerdon, recently a real sommelier’s sommelier-selection on NYC wine lists. To this end, a few weeks back, we did a feature on Gregoire Perron’s (La Combe aux Rêves) delightful high-elevation wines from Journans, a tiny village essentially within Bugey-Cerdon, though more generally, within the South Revermont, an area of far Eastern France where this week’s producer – Peggy and Jean-Pascal Buronfosse – also happens to operate.
Among other places in researching Domaine Buronfosse, I went to Bertrand Celce’s much-celebrated (necessary exploring, if you want to dive into natural wine) blog “WineTerroirs.” Early in his profile on Domaine Buronfosse he used the phrase: “Happy wine, to be sure.” Happy wine! There it was again. What did this mean – for a wine to be happy? And why was all this seeming joy hidden in the forests of the South Jura Massif? Perhaps there was some elated quality to the air or the soil – I could imagine some description: an ineffable mix of altitude, clarity, and commitment, but that sounded bullshitty. Instead, Bertrand Celce seemed to capture what I thought I felt with a simpler question: “[This] is a place I’d consider settling in: nature not far away, gentle people, what else do you need?”
To make Happy Wine, it seems to me, is to capture something true and endearing – to craft an intimate thing and to invite another into that intimacy. Aren’t we our happiest when entrusted to share in something a friend holds dear (sans pretense or preciousness)? Surely happiness braids with generosity. In this case, Peggy and Jean-Pascal bring a year spent in their miniscule (pop.: ~170) settlement La Combe-de-Rotalier – a village which contains its farms and courtyards and seemingly-ancient fountain literally at the center of the hamlet (i.e. its farms are in the town) – to you under the disguise of 750mL of delicious wine. Such generosity would belie that they are essentially natural wine icons (now going on over a decade), and that their sleepy old town also happens to be home to names like Ganevat and Labet, or here also known as neighbors. Such accolade-earning esteem, by all accounts, actually has nothing to do with what gives us delight. And so Maybe in its place, a bottle of Buronfosse seems so nearly to say, we can be just that happy thing. Jura Wines as fine as they come.