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2014 Savoie Chignin Mondeuse “Vieilles Vignes”

André & Michel Quenard

2014 Savoie Chignin Mondeuse “Vieilles Vignes”  André & Michel Quenard - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

It’s no wonder Savoie has been turning more and more heads recently: given the fine wine drinking public’s growing taste for fresh, bright wines that do not leave one’s palate in tatters, this Alpine region has loads to offer. The terroir is breathtaking for the sightseer and wine taster alike, with impossibly steep vineyards planted at high altitudes on the rockiest soil imaginable, and a backdrop of colossal mountains setting the stage for some of France’s most unique wines, often crafted from distinctive grape varieties exclusive to the region.
          Mondeuse is among these, and this local red reaches truly great heights in the hands of the Quenard family of Chignin. One might place it somewhere in between fine cru Beaujolais and classic northern Rhône Syrah from an appellation like Saint Joseph—lively, juicy, floral, low in alcohol, and supremely elegant with a touch of meatiness you can chew on. Given the means of production, it comes as no surprise this Mondeuse should share traits with such staples of French wine. After all, it is the fruit of seventy year-old vines vinified with native yeast, including a portion of whole-cluster fermentation, which is then aged in foudres and bottled unfiltered—a winning formula proven time and time again by the likes of Lapierre, Clape, and many others.
         Above all, this mountain red represents a great value for a wine of such caliber that provides this sort of genuine pleasure. Next time you want to be dazzled and refreshed, look to Savoie.

Anthony Lynch

$29.00
Vintage: 2014
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Mondeuse
Appellation: Chignin
Country: France
Region: Savoie
Producer: André & Michel Quenard
Winemaker: André & Michel Quenard
Vineyard: 70 years, 2.8 ha
Soil: Clay, Limestone
Aging: Wine is aged in foudre for one year before bottling
Farming: Lutte Raisonnée
Alcohol: 12%

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.

More from Savoie or France

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2011 Royal Seyssel

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Bugey-Cerdon “La Cueille”

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2014 Vouvray “Le Portail”

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2003 Vouvray “Trie de Vendange”

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2013 Languedoc Pic Saint Loup “Tour de Pierres”

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2013 Côte Rôtie “La Boisselée”

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2016 Bourgueil “Trinch”

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2015 Côte-Rôtie “Nève”

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2015 Côte-Rôtie

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2015 Bourgogne Pinot Noir

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For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.

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