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A Crisp Summer Quaffer from the French Pre-Alps

A Crisp Summer Quaffer from the French Pre-Alps

by Anthony Lynch by Anthony Lynch

2023 Savoie Les Abymes

2023 Savoie Les Abymes

André & Michel Quenard   

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André & Michel Quenard    France   |  Savoie, Bugey, Hautes-Alpes   |  Savoie

Discount Eligible $21.00
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In recent years, Savoie has been getting more and more attention for its crisp, charming whites. It’s no coincidence: these wines are unique, delicious, and often come at great value.
      While a wine like this quaffer from André and Michel Quenard might traditionally be found in an alpine resort as an après-ski pick-me-up next to a warm croque-monsieur, my guess is it will have more use readily waiting in your refrigerator as your go-to summer refresher. The Jacquère grape, when grown in the cool mountain climate of Savoie’s steep limestone slopes, gives light, focused wines with the transparency of a fresh mountain stream. “Les Abymes” hails from outside the town of Chignin and features low alcohol, lively acidity, and unrivaled thirst-quenching properties. Try it well-chilled with a grilled cheese sandwich, fresh shellfish, or on a hike with a panoramic lookout. Alternatively, just drink it and worry about the rest later.

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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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Kermit inspecting wine barrels

For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.

Discount Eligible $21.00
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