October 2017—Our 45th Anniversary!
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.
|Producer:||André & Michel Quenard|
|Winemaker:||André & Michel Quenard|
|Vineyard:||70 years, 2.8 ha|
|Aging:||Wine is aged in foudre for one year before bottling|
The Savoie is a picture of fairy-tale perfection: snow-capped peaks, rolling hills, and sparkling mountain streams. This idyllic region is where Michel Quenard farms twenty-two hectares of vineyards along the steep slopes around Chignin. His grandfather started the domaine in the 1930s. Though he slowly increased his vineyard holdings, he mostly sold off his wine. It wasn’t until 1960 that Michel’s father, André, began bottling under their own label. Michel joined the domaine in 1976. Today, he is joined by his sons, Guillaume and Romain. Their cuvées go beyond the simple “eclectic” that categorizes wines from Savoie; they are unique revelations that reflect the complexity of their terroir and the artistry of this master.
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.