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2021 Savoie Chignin Mondeuse “Voie Royale”

Guillaume Quenard
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Guillaume Quenard represents the third generation of his family to helm A. & M. Quenard, the domaine named for his grandfather and father, André and Michel. But, like a member of a band who yearns to pursue their own solo experiments on the side, Guillaume has also recently begun to bottle wines under his own name. Voie Royale is one of three such cuvées, each of which pays homage to a period of Savoie’s illustrious history. Named for the road that runs by the vineyard—consecrated as a “royal road” by Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel II in the 19th century—Voie Royale is the only rouge in Guillaume’s trilogy, originating from organically farmed Mondeuse vines planted in 1956 on near-vertical slopes of limestone scree.
     While the vinification of the family domaine’s old-vine Mondeuse remains fairly constant year after year, for his own bottling Guillaume is testing a range of aging vessels—foudre and concrete egg alike—as well as maceration times, depending on the vintage. For the 2021 rendition, he aged this Voie Royale entirely in foudre, and the result is an utterly distinctive, perfumed, and stony rouge evoking freshly pressed grapes, tart fruit, and violets. For the most delicious crossover of soul food and the Savoie—France’s land of fondue and raclette, try this recipe from Brown Sugar Kitchen's founder, Tanya Holland, that takes mac and cheese to another level.

You can find Tanya Holland’s recipe here.

Tom Wolf

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Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2021
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Mondeuse
Appellation: Savoie Chignin
Country: France
Region: Savoie, Bugey, Hautes-Alpes
Producer: André & Michel Quenard
Winemaker: Guillaume Quenard
Vineyard: Planted in 1956, .8 h
Soil: Clay, Limestone
Aging: Aged in foudre
Farming: Haute Valeur Environnementale (certified)
Alcohol: 12%

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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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Inspiring Thirst

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

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