Scaling the western flank of the French Alps, the Savoie region is off the beaten path for most travelers. Yet those who do visit this mountainous haven will be thrilled to discover stunning scenery, delicious local cuisine, and a thriving Alpine wine culture based on a variety of indigenous grapes. This Chignin bottling from the Quenard family, a local winemaking authority boasting several generations’ worth of experience, spotlights seventy-year-old Mondeuse vines clinging to steep, high-altitude limestone rubble—an extreme terroir that requires serious determination and physical endurance to farm. While Mondeuse can tend toward the rustic, this one is refined for a year in wood foudres before bottling. It has often been likened to a cross between Pinot Noir and Syrah: bright, elegant, and floral, with suggestions of wild fruit, blood, and minerals.
|Appellation:||Vin de 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.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171