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2021 Savoie Chignin Mondeuse “Vieilles Vignes”

André & Michel Quenard
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Seventy percent of the bottles that come from Savoie are white wines, but the region is also home to a red grape worthy of your attention, especially when it is grown along the kinds of steep, rubbly inclines that make up the Quenards’ best terroir. On the nose, this rouge is all black olive, pepper, and earth, but these notes yield to a bright, tart finish that gives it lift and a little extra complexity, making it a wonderful pairing for a wide variety of dishes from grilled lamb chops to falafel.

Tom Wolf

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Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2021
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

Read the whole story

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