1 December 2016

From shadow to light

In 1939, Henri Maire inherited 2.6 hectares of vines and went on to gradually assemble a huge estate that was almost overshadowed by the branded wines created by this Jurassic giant, which enjoyed huge success in the 1950s, such as the legendary Vin Fou.

The Henri Maire story is a journey that began in 1632 when a certain Mr Maire in the Jura was recorded as having vine and cellar.

Today, it’s another family – the Boisset family from neighboring Burgundy – that is continuing this trajectory, opening up the Henri Maire estates to the world, whilst preserving its heritage intact. The renovation of the company’s long-standing boutique in Arbois was the first confirmation of this.

But one should take a closer look at the Henri Maire estates because long before it became a brand, this name was an estate and a “winegrower par excellence,” as he himself said. 

Henri Maire’s five estates in Arbois, Pupullin, Château-Chalon, and L’Etoile, cover a total of 280 hectares, of which part is still to be planted. A single strategy governs their cultivation – to bring out the best of the vines through rigorous plot selection along with strict clonal and massal selections for high-quality replanting.

The work in the vines is all about respecting nature and the soil. The earth is turned over along every other row, with the soil double-dug to aerate it after it has been compacted by rain; plants are allowed to grow between the vines, such as clover which, by competing with the vines, encourages them to adapt their mineral and water intake, and helps control growth and yields; and pruning is adapted to each varietal.

The Henri Maire estates are all in the Arbois appellation and grow the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Savagnin, Poulsard, and Trousseau appellations:

  • The Domaine du Sorbief, which also produces the Arbois-Pupillin, Château-Chalon, and Etoile appellations
  • The Domaine de Brégand, which is organic
  • The Domaine de la Croix d’Argis
  • The Domaine de Montfort
  • The Domaine de la Grange Grillard

Further along the process, the winery and the cellar have also enjoyed significant investments to improve quality in a similar way to the vineyards.

The Jura is one of France’s best-preserved winegrowing areas, and one of the smallest with Jura appellations covering just 2,000 hectares. The wines grow on marl, clay, and limestone in the shadow of the valleys and the slanting mountain light. Indigenous varietals like Poulsard, Savagnin, and Trousseau, along with their Burgundian cousins Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, give rise to a range of different expressions, and that is what makes the Jura unique. It is a region that produces wines that are lively, floral, elegant, suave, intense, luminous, fruity, smooth, full-bodied, unique, generous, and sweet...

The brand’s graphic identity has been redesigned to fit with this spirit, to respect the past and show faith in the future. The colors illustrate the passage from shadows to light, with brown for the shadow of the earth, the vines, the barrels, and the beneficial darkness of the cellar. Then lighter tones for altitude, the shimmering bubbles of Crémant, and gold for the noble oxidation that comes over time.

The traditional illustration of the biou* carrier symbolizes the perpetual metamorphosis from working in the vines to working on the wines, and moving from shadows to light. The new packaging will be launched in early 2017.

*The biou is a giant bunch of grapes carried in a procession in Arbois on the first Sunday of September to herald the harvest.