The Savoie region of France – have you heard of it? Well, you’ve heard of the Alps mountain range and Savoie is nestled right up in there on the western side of the range. This means there is some top-notch skiing and boarding on offer, as well as all manner of chic resorts and luxury dining options to keep you in your best form on the slopes. Add this to your travel bucket list for the future!
But those dream vacation attributes aside, what does this mean for the wines of the region? Savoie’s location in the Alps gives this area some unique attributes for wine growing; there are many micro-climates influenced by the aspect of each vineyard, elevation, diurnal range and soil types. These allow for full ripeness of the grapes, all while preserving bright, juicy acidity and vivid flavors.
And what are these grapes? Savoie’s relative isolation in the foothills of the Alps means that they are working with some grapes which are only found in this area, such as the white Jacquère grape, making these incredible discoveries! In fact, Bibendum, the UK drinks business, identified Savoie as a region to watch in their Top Wine Trends for 2019: “Savoie…may be [one] of France’s smaller and lesserknown regions, but they’re big on personality, with many of the region’s producers crafting individual wines that unashamedly sing of their unique place.”
Here are a few recommendations to get your exploration started. Refreshing acidity is a key feature, making these ideal wines to pair with any upcoming holidays meals.
Lambert de Seyssel “Petit Royal” NV (SRP $20). Seyssel may be unknown to many oenophiles today, but the vineyards of this small appellation are regularly mentioned in documents dating back to at least the 11th century. Even Queen Victoria is said to have enjoyed the region’s sparkling wines during spa stays in neighboring towns. The “Royal Seyssel” label launched in 1901 by the Varichon and Clerc families, was considered for many years to be the best on the market, and the ‘royal’ is a nod to Victoria’s approval. Seyssel wines are made in the traditional method from Altesse and Molette grapes in a designated appellation, setting them apart from other sparkling Savoie wines.
Domaine Eugene Carrel & Fils Jongieux Blanc 2019 (SRP $13). Made from the Jacquère grape, this wine has been described as “drinking bottled mountain air”. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks, no malolactic fermentation and even the retention of a small amount of the natural CO2 in the wine all contribute to a zippy, refreshing taste reminiscent of the cool Alpine environment.
Domaine de L’Idylle Mondeuse Le Tithonien 2018 (SRP $16). Mondeuse is one of the main red grapes of the Savoie region and it has a peppery quality that many liken to Syrah wines, though Mondeuse tends to be lighter bodied. It proves to be very versatile and a great companion to many different foods, making it a favorite among sommeliers. Try it with a good roast dish, or something with a rich creamy sauce, reminiscent of Savoie’s famous raclette or fondue!