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2011 Royal Seyssel

Lambert de Seyssel

2011 Royal Seyssel Lambert de Seyssel - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

In the Alps of Savoie, the town of Seyssel is home to a long tradition of sparkling wine production. Its local grape varieties, Altesse and Molette, are ideally suited to the mountainous limestone terroir, giving a refreshing vin mousseux of character and nuance at a fraction of the price of Champagne. Seyssel’s sparkling wines must be produced in the méthode traditionnelle and aged for at least nine months before disgorgement; the Royal from Lambert is aged on its lees for three whole years. This provides a delightful richness of flavor, fine bead, and unrivaled aromatics. Floral notes dominate—iris, violet, and alpine wildflowers come to mind—while the succulent texture recalls fleshy white fruits. At five years of age, secondary notes like honey, brown sugar, and an inviting muskiness have also emerged. A tasty treat all on its own, this unusual dry sparkler will stand up to pretty much anything you put on the table.

Anthony Lynch

Vintage: 2011
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: 50% Altesse, 50% Molette
Appellation: Seyssel
Country: France
Region: Savoie
Producer: Lambert de Seyssel
Winemaker: Gérard Lambert, Olivier Varichon
Vineyard: 20-50 years
Soil: Clay, Limestone
Aging: A liqueur de tirage is added to launch the second (sparkling) fermentation and the bottles are stocked sur latte for three to four years
Farming: Lutte Raisonnée
Alcohol: 12.5%

More from this Producer or Region

About Savoie

Fifteen or twenty years ago, there was little buzz about the wines of Savoie, the Alpine region hugging the Swiss and Italian borders. In fact, most wines from Savoie were some combination of overcropped, thin, searingly acidic, and painfully rustic; even the best examples rarely made it out of the local mountain resorts, where they were served as an après-ski to wash down many a melty croque-monsieur.

But all that has changed, and today Savoie produces a number of top-quality wines in all styles, from simple thirst-quenchers to wines of substantial gravity. Kermit sought out some of these wines early in his career, having imported the spritzy, mineral whites of Apremont and Chignin in the late 1970s.

With vineyards at the foot of the Alps that occasionally climb to higher elevations, Savoie is defined by its mountain-influenced climate and extremely rocky terrain, with abundant limestone. Thanks to a diversity of indigenous grape varieties, quality-oriented growers with the choicest parcels—steep and well-exposed—can craft anything from crisp, low-alcohol whites from Jacquère to deep, gamey reds from Mondeuse. More serious whites are made from Altesse as well as Bergeron, the local name for Roussanne, which the Romans planted on the slopes of Chignin around the same time as they introduced it to the Rhône Valley.

Savoie’s diversity of styles and distinct sub-regions, from Arbin to Seyssel to the Bugey (technically not a part of Savoie, but included here for convenience) makes it a fascinating region for the thirsty explorer. There is no better place to look for brisk mountain refreshment.

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When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:

1. Big wines do not age better than light wine.
2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration.
3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them.
4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would.
5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.

Inspiring Thirst, page 174


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