Spotlight on the Savoie:

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As we’ve watched the unusual wines of the Jura reach the heights of wine fashion, we’ve wondered when the Savoie would follow.

I’m compelled to dispel the notion that the Jura and the Savoie have anything to do with one another. The Jura is part of the Franche-Comté, while the Savoie is part of the Rhône-Alpes, and they share little geologically, historically, or viticulturally. When I went to the Savoie several years ago, I learned that one can’t simply pop down from Arbois for a quick tasting in Albertville where Jean-Yves Péron lives, and be back in time for coq au vin jaune. The only unifying factors seem to be that both regions are somewhat shrouded in mystery, and both are located east of Lyon. Despite the lack of any real connection between these places, I find myself observing that as the quantity of Jura wine available has dwindled (due to a combination of tough vintages and increased demand), I’ve been seriously impressed by the quality of the wine coming from the Savoie. While the winemaking traditions are totally different, I’d say the wines of the Savoie and the wines of the Jura scratch the same itch: a need for textured, fleshy, complex white wine, and woodsy, aromatic red. Attention Jura lovers: it's time to take notice of the Savoie!

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the wines of the Dupasquier family since first tasting several years ago. This moderately sized Domaine in the Aimavigne commune benefits from having vines in Marestel, one of only a few recognized “Crus” of the Savoie.  Marestel is an incredibly steep, south-facing slope giving wines that are quite ripe, mineral-driven, and age-worthy. To be called “Marestel,” the wine must be made from the Altesse grape, yet the beautifully sweet-fruited and rustic reds of Dupasquier have a sun-drenched quality that seems to speak of this unique terroir. All are fermented with native yeast, aged in old barrels, and spend a few additional years in bottle before release; these are classic, elegant wines that show the Rhône-ish character Savoie wines sometimes have.

We now turn your attention to the soaring and gorgeous wines of Dominique and Patrick Belluard in the Ayse Cru of the Savoie, between Geneva and Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, where Belluard is by far the most notable winemaker. From time to time likened to Robert Plageoles in Gaillac who replanted ancient, indigenous varieties, Belluard is credited with having saved the white Gringet grape, which dates back to Roman times and was once planted in great abundance in this part of the Savoie. Belluard has about ten hectares with half a hectare each of Altesse and Mondeuse. This is our first opportunity to welcome Belluard's Altesse to the shop. We are thrilled. The Domaine was founded in the 1940s and began conversion to biodynamics in the early 2000s. The wines are fermented and aged in concrete eggs, a technique that in this case – according to our palates – gives pure and delicious results. These are rich and intense wines from low yielding vines grown on south-facing slopes; they are exotic and unusual, and for those who had the pleasure of tasting the 2011s from Bellu, the 2012s are more chiseled and stony. Made in tiny quantities, they are hardly ever available. Grab them while you can!

Additionally we have a new vintage of Franck Peillot’s dreamy Altesse from Bugey, and an exciting skin-contact Jacquère and Altesse blend from our favorite avant-garde vigneron in the region, Jean-Yves Péron, and crunchy Persan from Nicholas Gonin in Isère... Santé! -Sophie    

                                                                                                                                                                                       

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Dupasquier 2010 Roussette de Savoie Altesse

This rich, earthy, and lightly oxidative Altesse shows exotic fruits on the note: green mango, mango peel, and papaya as well as flinty and steely mineral aromas. It's full, fleshy, and mouth-filling on the palate with sweet, ripe, yellow and orange fruit on the front palate and balanced acidity on the finish. An impressive wine, big boned but with a lovely balance of fruit, earth, and acid, it's a lush and sensual effort that shows especially well with a little bit of air and not too cold. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

Dupasquier 2010 Savoie Gamay

This Gamay is "in the zone" right now. Herbal (think parsley and celery leaf) with fruit seeds, a hint of funk, and tart, pure, high-toned red fruits on the nose, the palate is clear as a bell. The wine certainly has the juiciness, bright, singing acidity, and succulent red berry character of cool vintage Beaujolais, but with an Alpine freshness and sanguine, lingering minerality on the finish that's all its own. Trust us, you want to drink this wine ... tonight. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $20.99

Dupasquier 2009 Savoie Mondeuse

Located in the Jongieux sub-region of the Savoie, Dupasquier benefits from south-facing, extremely warm vineyards that give the wines great ripeness for a relatively cool climate. This wine is fermented in tank and aged in foudre with sulfur only at bottling. Though the Domaine is not certified organic, they do not use chemicals. With dark blackberry and black currant notes, and beautiful integration of fruit and tannins, it's a fairly structured wine, partly due to the ripe 2009 vintage. There's an herbal pepperiness that brings Syrah to mind, along with a fresh, woodsy, Alpine finish. We think it would make a very good choice for cellar-ing,and at quite a reasonable price. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • red
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  • $23.99

Belluard 2010 Vin de Savoie Ayse Brut Mont Blanc

Made from 100% Gringet, this sparkling wine is aged for a minimum of four years on the lees. It's lightly oxidative with orchard fruits as well as exotic, bracing green mango and mango peel on the nose, also lots of limestone, which carries through to the palate. With higher acidity than 2009, the wine is lush on the palate, with creamy texture, excellent balance, and firm, underlying stoniness. Once open, it doesn't last long! MSB

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  • white sparkling
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  • no discount
  • $35.99

Belluard 2012 Vin de Savoie Cepage Gringet "Les Alpes"

Our first vintage of Belluard's Gringet "Les Alpes" was 2011; the 2012 rendition could not be more different. While the '11 was lactic and creamy, the 2012 is all rocks and "clawed-from-the-earth" mineral flavors. From vines planted on clay-limestone soil, and aged in stainless steel and concrete eggs, this is a full-textured yet quite high-acid, saline wine with a finish like an Alpine stream. Not a fruity wine, the nose offers fresh herbs, yellow flowers, green olive, and rocks, and the minerality is so pronounced on the finish, it's almost like having stones in one's mouth. We really liked the 2011; we *love* the 2012. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $31.99

Belluard 2012 Vin de Savoie Cepage Altesse "Grandes Jorass

More honeyed and exotic than Belluard's Gringet "Les Alps," it's probably best to taste the two wines next to one another to experience the full glory. Sweet apple flesh, pear, mango, fresh cream, aromatic white flowers, Bellu's Altesse shows more fruit than the earthy Gringet. The ripe and honeyed character of the nose carries through to the palate, and there's a very resonant and powerful acid/mineral back bone. A glorious effort that must be tasted to be believed! MSB

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  • white
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  • $34.99

Gonin 2011 Isère - Balmes Dauphinoises Persan

This is a high-toned, aromatic, crunchy red wine from Isère in eastern France, a region better known for skiing than for wine. In fact the delightful Nicolas Gonin may be the only Isère grower represented here in the New York market. Gonin's vines grow in sandstone, sand, and clay. Aged in enamel tanks to preserve this rare local grape's fresh acid and vibrant fruit (and because Gonin professes himself to be "not a fan" of wood), this is a pure and zesty wine with flavors of cranberry and blackberry, a nice florality to the nose, and a mouth-coating wash of tannins on the finish. MSB

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  • red
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  • $22.99

Péron, Jean-Yves 2011 Vin de France Cotillon des Dames

Delicious orange wine without sulfur! This is a blend of Jacquere and Altesse. The two varieties are vinified separately with the Altesse undergoing more élevage, a week of carbonic maceration and two weeks of daily pigeage. The slight oxidation gives the wine lovely hints of honey and marmalade. Move over, Radikon, and make way for Jean-Yves Peron! MSB

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  • white
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  • $34.99

Peillot 2013 Roussette du Bugey Montagnieu Altesse

Where, exactly, is Bugey? Even the most committed wine geeks often do not know the answer to this question. Bugey comprises hills at the very southern tip of the Jura mountain range, but is, in fact, closer to the Savoie than to the Jura in distance (and the wines are more akin to the wines of the Savoie than to those of the Jura...) Interestingly, also, the vineyards of Montagnieu overlook the Rhône Valley and there is a certain ripe, Rhône-ish aspect to this Altesse in some vintages. Franck Peillot has long been a favorite of ours, and his Altesse (known also as Roussette), is lovely in 2013. Grown on limestone soil, the wine offers pretty honey and orchard fruits on the nose: floral pear, white peach and citrus while maintaining an underlying stoniness and minerality on the palate, and the long finish is like an alpine stream. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99