Domaine Mosse Magic of Ju-Ju 2014
If you’re a jazz fan, then the name of this wine will immediately mean something to you. Archie Shepp’s seminal 1967 album The Magic of Ju-Ju features Shepp’s free-form saxophone set against a frenetic African beat. The percussion side of it, which includes drums, bells and rhythm logs, has a furious rapidity and regularity, and it goes on for a solid 18 minutes and 37 seconds without respite, save for a couple of trumpets that appear in the last two minutes, as if to say “come on now, stop this”. It is something you probably either fall in love with and listen to again and again, for the rest of your life, or you listen to once, and chalk it up to experience. I’ve now listened to it twice though, so I am not quite sure which camp I fall in.
I have a feeling it is a piece of music that might sound very different according to your state of mind. Although, to be fair, this is perhaps true of all music. My chosen mind-altering substance (yours too I imagine) is derived from the Vitis vinifera plant, so if we need wine to fully appreciate Shepp’s unpredictable saxophonic wanderings there is surely no better choice than this weekend’s wine, my lone bottle of Magic of Ju-Ju. Rarely (well, I think ‘never’ is probably closer to the truth) sighted on British shores, but better known in France and the USA, this wine is made by the ever-popular René and Agnès Mosse, of Domaine Mosse.
Being based in St Lambert du Lattay on the banks of the Layon, just around the corner from Pithon-Paillé, René and team are best known for Chenin Blanc of course. They make pretty smart Savennières, but true Loire geeks will home in on the wines from their parcel in Bonnes Blanches, sold either under that name but also as Cuvée BB. And in previous incarnations The Magic of Ju-Ju has followed that theme, being an alternative expression of Chenin Blanc, but the 2014 sees a change in its origins. Indeed, it’s no longer Chenin Blanc (well, it is a little bit, but not much).
The 2014 Magic of Ju-Ju is a blend of 80% Melon de Bourgogne, from vines planted on a granite terroir, and 20% Chenin Blanc, these vines eking out an existence on a mix of clay, gravel and schist. The fruit is hand-picked (some is purchased after picking, but all come from organic vineyards), pressed slowly, and the juice is fermented by indigenous yeasts in wooden fûts. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation (not that it really feels like it) in same, followed by a seven-month élevage. There is a little residual sugar, which I did suspect from the texture of the wine, although it is just 3 g/l, and although it is mostly bottled in magnums and jeroboams (and why not?) this particular bottle was just that. All 750 millilitres of it. In the glass the wine has a pale, lemon-straw hue. The nose is very typical of Melon de Bourgogne, with a grapey flourish to start, but then piles of bitter citrus pith, juicy fruits with a touch of white pepper and more than a hint of musky pear skin. The palate is vigorous, with a lovely fruit flesh to it helped by that tiny residual, and zippy acidity too. It feels light-footed and vigorous, and I was surprised to learn it had undergone malolactic, having ascribed the juicy weight to the Chenin component. It is fabulously fresh yet also savoury and interesting, with a tangy, citrus zest finish. I don’t think it would be too difficult putting away a magnum of this. I might need longer than 18 minutes and 37 seconds though. 16.5/20 (25/1/15)