As a group, we went overnight to the Jura region of France, which shares a border with Switzerland. Here in the Jura region, we visited a town called Salins les Bains, which had a salt mine. You may ask, why is there a salt-water region in the middle of the country? This is because the land was once covered with an ocean, but after the ocean receded, the salt water was enclosed on a lower level and now is surrounded by mountains—very similar to Salt Lake City. The salt harvested from this mine was very important to preserve foods in the old times, and played a critical role in cheese production. After the advent of the refrigerators and ocean salt, the salt mine was put out of business, so today this mine works as a museum. We hiked into the salt mine and went under several passages to understand how the horses turned the wheels to pull up the water. The water was then heated (with a wood fire before coal was used) to drain off the salt crystals. Salt was worth a lot back in the day.
Next, we went to a biodynamic wine maker—the Tissot vineyard and winery. Here, the belief into winemaking is to use only the natural components, and let those natural components ferment themselves with the natural yeasts found on the skins of the grapes. One of such wines was called “Vin Jaune”, and was aged exactly for 6 years and 3 months. The barrel for this wine was actually covered with a sandbag, allowing only natural inhabitant yeasts to carry the process. The sandbag allowed a little bit of oxygen, so that the yeast were able to grow better in the interface of the wine and the barrel’s “air”. The flocculation of yeast here created a natural seal, from which the ethanol in the wine is allowed to evaporate, but the flavor of the wine intensifies. The wine tasted of licorice and was very unusual, yet tasty. It is not an easy wine to drink casually, but goes awfully well with a piece of aged comté.
The Salt Mine
Cart full of salt
Place where the salt water was heated