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Wines from Savoie


#1

I just had a bunch of wines from Savoie during half-term and I was particularly surprised by a white grape - Apremont. I tried it from a couple of producers and all were surprisingly good.

Keen to hear your experiences with Savoie wines.


#2

Hi @NW3Andre,

I really like wines from Savoie too! The white you mention is made from a grape called Jacquère, which is one of the main white grapes used in Savoie.

TWS currently has this example, from a very reliable producer:

There was a lovely Cremant de Savoie on the list, also made from the Jacquère grape - alas! seems to have sold out:

Another fresh and floral grape from Savoie is the Altesse (aka Roussette), which you’ll find as ‘Roussette de Savoie’ on the label; you can find it in Bugey, or in another appellation called Frangy:

And this one, not from TWS but is just lovely:

They also use the Rhone’s Roussanne in Savoie, which they call Bergeron, but I haven’t found examples of it anywhere local to me as yet - so no idea what it tastes like in its Savoie expression.

There are some fab reds from Savoie too- my favourite grape is Mondeuse. This one is wild, spicy and yet light:

And I’m yet to try their other cuvee:

I believe @MikeFranklin has been a bit of a Mondeuse convert, so he might be able to give you more examples.

Enjoy! :slight_smile:


#3

An excellent reply from @inbar. I would only add for older members: I was put off by my experience of these wines when first skiing in the early 1980s, and didn’t try them again for about 25 years. But they are now greatly improved. So give them another try.


#4

Just back from a week’s ski-ing in Savoie.

Apremont has always been a favourite of mine, and the one I had this year was excellent. They are fragrant, refreshing and very suitable for a glass at lunchtime when ski-ing. I prefer it to Roussette although it’s decent too.

I tried Mondeuse for the first time a year or so ago, and I am converted. Posted last week about a lovely bottle we had one evening with dinner. Also had a half bottle of Swiss Pinot Noir at lunchtime one day, which was ok but nothing special. The local Gamay is very quaffable, but not in the same league as the Mondeuse. I think that is probably broadly similar to @MikeFranklin views, but he has managed a wider range of samples than me :slight_smile: .


#5

Oh, that’s interesting. I prefer Roussette as I find it a bit fuller flavoured than Apremont, which I find a little acidic. Not had any for some time though there is 1 bottle of Roussette downstairs awaiting its fate.


#6

Apremont can be a bit acidic, cheaper ones certainly, but I think in quite a nice way if the fruit is right. I quite like whites like that when up a mountain and you don’t want anything too heavy.


#7

I’m with you, @Andy999. Although I like them both, I definitely prefer the Roussette- I think it’s got more body and more perfume to it. Very versatile with food too. Should get some more in, come to think of it…!


#8

Just to confirm @Inbar comment that Apremont is a commune in Savoie and the usual local white grape is Jacquere. So comparing Rousette with Apremont is not quite valid!

Re the Savoie Roussanne I’m pretty sure I’ve seen plenty of it for sale around here. If I remember I’ll pick up a bottle for you to try when I’m next 'darn sarf" :smiley:

As @MarkC comments I am definitely a Mondeuse convert but sadly not so much a Persan convert. Also I’m afraid I’m not a white drinker so can’t really comment on the various whites. (a conversion project to embarked on possibly in the spring!).


#9

Ah! that’s very nice of you, Mike! :grinning: :+1:


#10

As my 3 months stay in Chamonix is now coming to an end and whilst here I have tried a number of Savoie red wines on which I have posted my notes in the various drinking threads, I though I’d give a little summary.

First I haven’t tried any whites so I can’t comment on them.

Persan
I tried several wines made from the person grape and whilst I really wanted to like these, they ultimately left me very unimpressed and feeling that, sadly, sometimes there might be a very good reason why a grape has been allowed to fall into obscurity.

Blends
I tried a number of blends that usually included persan and mondeuse. Sadly I found these lacked complexity and any great interest. They were typically easy drinking but uninspiring.

Gamay and Pinot Noir
There are a lot of Savoie versions of these and, whilst I lack much experience of either grape, I felt they might be better leaving these to areas more experienced in producing them. I was not impressed with the ones I tried.

Mondeuse
For me the mondeuse grape is where Savoie really shone. I tried four mondeuse varietal wines and only found one that didn’t impress - Domaine Celine Jacquet which was dominated by tannin (maybe a bit of aging might have smoothed it out but I’m not sure). My favourite was Chateau St Philippe Reserve du chateau, Savoie Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte (also at £16.22 the most expensive mondeuse I tried) and not even an Arbin, the most highly respected region for mondeuse; fruit forward, soft tannins and lovely pepper. The other two mondeuse I liked were Avalanche from Arbin by Fabian Trosset (a fairly big name in Savoie wines) and Terre Natale Domaine Saint-Romain from Jongieux (better known for it’s whites) both were less complex but eminently drinkable.

It’s been a fun and interesting exercise. I now have two TWS mondeuse in my basket and it will be interesting to see how they compare (I couldn’t find either of these in any of the shops I looked in). I have also a picked up a couple of bottles of the St Philippe and hope to pick up a couple of each of the other two on my way out.


#11

That’s a helpful summary Mike. I haven’t tried Persan and I’m not sure I will based on what you write! As you say, sometimes natural selection is there for a reason.

The local Gamays tend to be pretty one dimensional and at best are quaffable in volume up a mountain with a hearty lunch I think. At worst they can be quite thin and acidic. Only tried one PN (it was Swiss side of the border) and it was ok but unremarkable.

I had two decent Mondeuse whilst out there this year and I agree that it’s comfortably the best red wine grape in the region.

Quite a lot of the decent restaurants have strong Rhone lists, and I can see why, as there is quite a limited selection of good local reds in my view, and they tend to be dearer than many quite good Rhones on the lists.


#12

Sadly as was discussed briefly earlier (in this or another thread) most of the Savoie producers are small without economies of scale and their growing environment is not the easiest in the world. All of which rather conspires to make it hard for them to compete with the bigger hitters of the Rhone. But still I do feel the mondeuse at least gives them a unique niche.


#13

What an excellent overview, @Inbar! I missed this first time round.

I can’t resist relating a comment from a French caviste made to me several years Back concerning to this grape - “It’s a dual-purpose grape. If you have any wine left over, you can use it to de-scale your bathroom taps.” But @SPmember is right - things have improved a lot, though anyone tempted by the low prices asked for certain Savoie wines in French supermarkets might want to remember this.

It’s delicious. It’s especially worth looking for if you feel that N. Rhone Roussannes can be a bit low-acid and might benefit from having a bit more acid to balance things up.

And now for a mind-warping fact. Savoie is next door to the N. Rhone. In Savoie, Roussette is a kind of wine made from Altesse grapes as already stated. But in the N. Rhone area, Roussette is a synonym for Roussanne, Roussanne being called Bergeron in Savoie.

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#14

That’s good to know! :+1:

Lucky for me, @MikeFranklin got me one in Savoie, so I’ll have a chance to try it in the autumn! (Thanks again, Mike!! :grinning::grinning:)

Edit: just re-read this… For a moment I thought you were saying it was the same grape…? So is Altesse just another name for Roussane? Mind boggling! :thinking:


#15

No! Two different grapes sailing under the same name next door to each other.


#16

Phew! I did experience a moment of delirium! The local names in France are so confusing… I still have no idea why Cab Franc is called Breton in the Loire, for example.


#17

That’s the Loire for you - Malbec is called Cot on the Loire. I’m surprised it’s grown there at all, but it is.


#18

I don’t think the French are as bad as the Italian when it comes to different names. Sometimes a single village has its own name for a grape. I believe there is a village in Piedmont that has a local name for nebbiolo that is used on their bottle labels!


#19

You’re probably right about the Italians being even worse on this front. Nebbiolo is known as Spanna, and there might be one more alternative, but can’t quite remember. Sangiovese is also Brunello and Niellucciu in Corsica, but again - I’m sure it’s got other names… Unless these denote different clones? :thinking:


#20

If you look at almost any grape on wiki they all seem to have dozens of alternative names.