It is only straightforward to buy the usual suspects; Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Rhône, Alsace, Champagne and Vins de Pays. All those regions that make up south west France and Provence get left out, as do Corsica and Jura – let alone Savoie. As a result I have only tasted about half a dozen wines from Savoie in my life, and can barely remember most of those.
I have very happy memories though, of a few bottles of the wild strawberry infused vermouth from Chambery that I enjoyed in my youth.
Savoie appears to be a very interesting region, it is in eastern France near Geneva and Lake Annecy, which always looks so seductively beautiful in the photographs and seems to be a fascinating place to visit. Also, it uses grape varieties that are little known elsewhere – something that always grabs my attention.
The example that I tasted came from the Cru village of Apremont contained within the Vin de Savoie appellation – there are 18 such Crus now including Crepy. The wine was made from the Jacquère grape that my ancient copy of Vines, Grapes and Wines declares to be ‘dry, light, tart and half way between smoky and low key.’
It goes on to say that its ‘strong suit is blameless neutrality.’
Well, obviously a lot has happened in the 24 years since that was published, because the wine did not fit any of those descriptions, so either wine making in Savoie has improved beyond recognition, or this particular wine bucks the trend – or I really, really wanted a glass of wine.
I must get a new copy of Vines, Grapes and Wines.
100% Jacquère grape
The nose was quite floral with soft pear notes.
The palate was a surprise actually, it was textured and soft with a slight spritz giving a very lively, refreshing and attractive feel – making it seem much crisper than it was.
It was not crisp though and not bone dry either, but it really was delicious and drinkable, light white, dryish wine with a big flavour of apples and melons – what’s more the alcohol is only 11.5%.
It was very well balanced with enough acidity to keep it fresh, a good depth of flavour and a little hint of some minerality for elegance.
This was not a great wine, in many ways it was pretty simple stuff, but it was such a pleasure to drink that the bottle emptied with alarming speed.
It was a delicious aperitif and went with pesto very well indeed, and I can see it being perfect with a wide array of softish cheeses, actually I think it is very food friendly and will go with a wide range of dishes.
Waitrose £7.99 a bottle (£7.59 online) – 86 points, remember this wine makes up for its lack of complexity with the pleasure it provides.
Give it a go, this is a lovely accessible wine that gives a perfect introduction to Savoie, it has certainly made me want to hunt out the more complex and hard to find wines from the region. I feel a trip to Savoie coming on…