Tag Archives: Haute Savoie

Savoyarde Wines: Not To Be Underestimated

by Ian Blackshaw

My wife and I have just spent a few days staying in a friend’s apartment in Le Grand Bornand, a winter and summer resort in the Haute Savoie, and actually enjoyed some warm sunny weather (30+ degrees centigrade!), unlike the Pas de Calais, where the weather pattern continues to be rain, rain and more rain! When will Summer arrive the locals cry in despair?

The Haute Savoie and the Savoie (Departements 74 & 73), which are located in the French Western Alps and form part of the Rhone-Alps Region, produce a wide range and style of wines, including sparkling wines. The one from Ayze, which bears its name and grown above Bonneville in the Arve valley, is particularly interesting, if a little stringent for some palates.

The traditional capital of the Savoie is Chambery, which is an important centre for the Continue reading “Savoyarde Wines: Not To Be Underestimated” »

Apremont: A delightful white wine from Savoie

by Ian Blackshaw

We have just returned from a long weekend with some friends who have an apartment in the Le Grand Bornand (or LGB as our friends refer to it) in the Haute Savoie (74) in the French Alps – our old stamping ground, having previously had a Chalet near the ski station of Orange. During our stay in LGB, we enjoyed the typical Savoyard dishes, such as Tartiflette, and cheeses, such as Tome de Savoie, washed down with some good white and red wines respectively from the region. Of the red wines, we savoured Mondeuse, the subject of one of my earlier wine articles.

Of the white wines, we particularly enjoyed the eponymous wine from Apremont, which is a small commune in the Savoie Department (73), located south east of Chambery, which is the Department capital.

Most Savoie wines – there are actually 17 Vin de Savoie wine villages – do not travel and are best drunk in situ. As such, these wines are not generally available outside the Savoie wine region. However, one wine that is more generally available is Apremont, which I have found in our local supermarkets, and drinks very well as an aperitif and also as a dinner wine, going down particularly well with simple chicken dishes and, of course, with Fondue Savoyard. Again, the latter is available in made up packs in our local supermarkets – but, to which, you do need to add some local Kirsch to appreciate and enjoy the authentic taste of the dish.

Apremont, which has its own Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC), is made from the Jacquere grape variety and is a nice balance between fruitiness and acidity, with distinctive floral notes, which reminds one of the flora of the Alps.

The Apremont of 2009 is particularly good and has won a gold medal. But, then, 2009 generally was a fine vintage throughout France. The weather conditions that year were textbook for producing good wine, with the right amount of sunshine and rain, at the right moments in the growing cycle of the vines.

The general advice for white wines of ‘DYA’ – drink the youngest available – holds true for the Savoie whites, including Apremont, but which, I have found, will generally drink well for up to two or three years.

It is a delightful wine: try some and enjoy!

MONDEUSE: A WINTER WARMER!

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!