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2020 Savoie Chignin Mondeuse “Vieilles Vignes”

André & Michel Quenard
Discount Eligible $32.00
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Mostly known and beloved for its white wines, the Savoie is also home to a noteworthy red grape called Mondeuse. Likely a relative of Syrah, Mondeuse thrives along the impossibly steep and scree-laden slopes of the pre-Alps, just down the road from France’s renowned ski mountains. For seventy years, the Quenards’ vines for this cuvée have clung to this stony rubble, enjoying great health and complete ripening courtesy of the slope’s quick draining, sunny southern exposure, and cool Alpine air currents.
      Looking up at the sharp incline and the rocky soil, you might wonder how third-generation Guillaume Quenard is able to harvest grapes here, much less tend to them all summer. Somehow, he manages to do so, all manually, before aging the wine for a year in old, neutral foudres before bottling. The resulting fine-grained rouge shows some northern Rhône Syrah qualities—an irresistibly savory, peppery hint and note of black olive—but it also delivers a tart brightness and impressive acidity that make it extremely versatile at table. Pour this beautiful Mondeuse alongside a tender steak, pasta topped with grilled mushrooms, or Chris Lee’s fried rabbit with semolina and herbs for a wonderful late-summer or early-fall feast.

You can find Chris Lee’s recipe here.

Tom Wolf


Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2020
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Mondeuse
Appellation: Savoie
Country: France
Region: Savoie, Bugey, Hautes-Alpes
Producer: André & Michel Quenard
Winemaker: Guillaume 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: 12.5%

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About The Region

Savoie, Bugey, Hautes-Alpes

map of Savoie, Bugey, Hautes-Alpes

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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Where the newsletter started

Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

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