This Alpine region in eastern France was little known until recently. Its gorgeous wines are distinctive and immediately appealing.
By Eric Asimov
July 8, 2021
Places like Savoie exist all over historic wine areas, little-known cul-de-sacs that are suddenly embraced by the outside world, though the residents have been making wine there for centuries.
Then again, there’s only one Savoie.
This small, hilly protrusion in the Alpine foothills of eastern France juts into the mountainous region where Switzerland meets Italy. It produces some excellent red wines, but mostly whites that are as cool, crystalline and refreshing as a mountain stream.
I’ve consumed quite a few Savoie whites over the last few weeks, and the best of them, without fail, made me feel as if I were in breezy meadows among the foothills, under the distant glowering crags of the Alps themselves.
This transportive quality is a powerful feature of Savoie whites. The leading grapes, altesse and jacquère, are little known outside the region. Other important white grapes include mondeuse blanche, roussanne and chardonnay, along with a host of other indigenous grapes.
Straightforward and uncomplicated — these words don’t hold a lot of weight with many readers. Yet the world needs plenty of wines like this, intended simply for pleasure and refreshment when your mind is on other matters. This bottle epitomizes what the Apremont region is known for: light, fresh, floral wines made from the jacquère grape. Apremont wines can do a lot more than this bottle, but sometimes a wine like this is exactly what you want. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)
Another white with a few years of age, and again, this wine, tastes as if it has many years ahead of it. This one is made of roussanne, a Rhône grape that is known in the Savoie as bergeron. The wine is rich, ripe and round, with herbal, floral and citrus aromas, not unlike other Savoie whites. The difference is felt in the body, texture and opacity of this wine, which is so intriguing you keep sipping in an effort to reach the heart of it, even if you never quite get there. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant)