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The wines of Emmanuel Houillon (Domaine Pierre Overnoy), Arbois, France

These are remarkable wines. With their distinctive flavours, they aren’t for everyone; nor are they cheap. But they are alive, and full of interest. They hail from the Jura, a mountainous and beautiful region that is part of France, but abutting the border with Switzerland.

A word about the name. These wines used to be labelled Pierre Overnoy, but Emmanuel Houillon took over Pierre Overnoy’s domain when Overnoy retired. Houillon makes wines in the same way: totally naturally (and bravely), without the addition of sulphur dioxide (the almost universally used preservative in winemaking). Of course, vineyard are also managed naturally, and there are no additions or unnecessary manipulations in the cellar. The result of this oenologist’s nightmare are actually rather wonderful.

[Wines are stocked by Les Caves de Pyrene in the UK.]

Emmanuel Houillon Poulsard Arbois Pupilin 2004
This is made from the Ploussard grape (known locally as Poulsard), which is a red variety. The wine is pale coloured. It has a supremely elegant, subtle, spicy palate with soft, smooth complex flavours and some earthiness. Pure and expressive, this is a multifaceted wine. 92/100 (£12.29 Les Caves de Pyrene)

Emmanuel Houillon Chardonnay/Savagnin 1999 Arbois
A remarkable wine. The nose is savoury, tangy, smoky and herb tinged. The palate is complex and minerally with high acidity and a lovely earthy, nutty complexity. There’s a long, mouthfilling finish. Thrilling but odd. 93/100 (£19.54 Les Caves de Pyrene)

Wines tasted 04/07
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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