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2021 Savoie Arbin Mondeuse “Terres Brunes”

André & Michel Quenard
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Mostly known and beloved for its white wines, Savoie is also home to a noteworthy red grape called Mondeuse, which thrives along the impossibly steep and scree-laden slopes of the pre-Alps, just down the road from France’s renowned ski mountains. For half a century, the Quenards’ vines for this cuvée have clung to this stony rubble, yielding reds unlike those from any other region in France. Lithe, brambly, and floral, it’s as well suited to fondue and tartiflette as it is to slow-braised oxtail or your favorite stew.

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: André & Michel Quenard
Vineyard: 40 to 50 years, 1 ha
Soil: Clay, Limestone
Aging: Aged for 11 months, 50% in stainless steel tank, 50% in foudre
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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