No, straw wine is not a wine made from straw! Nevertheless, in the past, straw wine was a wine made from harvested grapes that were placed on straw racks that were left to dry in the sun. Letting the grapes dry in the sun is a technique called passerillage. This exposure of the grapes to the sun allows them to lose their volume in water and to concentrate in sugar. This makes it possible to produce sweet wines. The technique being particular and the wine unique, it is sold at a golden price. Straw wine is a Jura speciality.
Nowadays, few winegrowers still use this technique to preserve grapes on straw. Today the grapes are either hung on wires or stored on crates turned over in rooms that are dried and aerated. Sometimes the passing technique is used by stripping the leaves from the vine as the grapes grow in order to maximize their exposure to the sun. With these different techniques, the wine dehydrates and becomes sweeter.
The whole vinification process is slow. The harvest is late because the grapes are harvested when they are overripe, and the passerillage stage also lasts two to three months. Then the grapes are pressed slowly by small wooden presses and only when they have reached a desirable sugar content. The minimum is 306 g/l but often the grape reaches a content of 500 to 600 g/l. The pressing lasts twice as long as for other wines. Straw wines are made from different grape varieties, including pulse, savagnin and chardonnay. The fermentation of the wine lasts about a year and to finish the wine must remain at least two years in small oak barrels before being bottled. This nectar is put in 37.5 cl bottles for the so-called "Demi-Jura" bottle and 50 cl for the straw wine from Corrèze.
All these steps explain the slowness of the process and also the price of wine. The price is also justified by the low yield of dehydrated grapes. Dehydrated grapes make less juice because they have lost their volume of water, for 100 kg of grapes we obtain only 18 to 25 litres of juice.
After this long process, the wines obtain a beautiful straw colour, hence the name "vin de paille". It is a sweet and sweet wine. It develops aromas of candied fruit, honey, caramel and sometimes prunes! These are wines with a strong ageing potential of more than 50 years for the majority.
On the gastronomic side, straw wine is served quite fresh but not too fresh, otherwise its subtle aromas might not be revealed. It goes perfectly with foie gras or chocolate desserts.
Lou Dubois for Les Grappes