by Ian Blackshaw
Not many of us, it seems, looks forward to winter! And winters, in our neck of the woods, can be quite chilly and severe! It would not be the first time for us to be snowed in and also – we never time it right – run out of heating oil at the same time! But, then, that is not a catastrophe, as the French are wont to say, because we have our wood burning stove and also a fireplace to keep out the cold.
A Savoyard vineyard
Indeed, the Savoyard region produces a variety of red and white wines, which are very gluggable, if not outstanding. This is the land of Apremont, Chateau de Ripaille and the semi-petillant Crepy in the whites; and, as I said, Mondeuse, perhaps the King of the Savoie reds.
In fact, for me, one of the charms of winter evenings is to close the shutters, draw the curtains, light a candle or two and settle down in front of the stove or the log fire. This wonderful experience is completed with some wholesome French food and a glass of French red wine or two.
From time to time, instead of having dinner, we will settle for a simple supper of crusty French bread and cheese and, as I said, a bottle of French red wine. One such wine I can well recommend for such occasions is Mondeuse.
This is a very satisfying and full bodied red wine, with bluish tones and notes of violets, strawberries and raspberries, and comes from the Savoy region of eastern France – in fact, a wine from the Alpine region of the Department of the Haute Savoie.
To be strictly correct, one should differentiate between Mondeuse Noir – the red wine – and Mondeuse Blanche – the white. However, Mondeuse usually refers to the red rather than the white wine.
A glass of Mondeuse
Basically, Mondeuse is made from the Mondeuse grape variety, perhaps blended with the Syrah grape, to add some spiciness. The wine, which needs to be at least five years old and keeps well for up to twelve years and is best served at 16 degrees, goes down well with Savoyard cheeses, such as Tome de Savoie and Reblochon.
Mondeuse is widely regarded as a tonic. So, combined with the bread and cheese, it is just what one needs on a cold winter’s night, when the snow outside is deep and crisp and even, as the well-known Christmas Carol, ‘Good King Wenceslas’, so aptly describes it!