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All podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons 
Attribution (3.0) 

Nov 14, 2018

My job isn't just to tell you about wines you already know and love, but to put new ones you may not know on your radar. Very few are as worthy as the wines of Savoie, France. Nestled in the Alps, this place makes whites & reds that are improving every year! Will you have to look for these and maybe special order them? YES. But the payoff will be worth it!


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Here are the show notes:

Savoie is pronounced “Sav-wah”

  • First we give background on how these wines have gone from ski chalet wines to wines with depth, character and a following outside the slopes!
  • We discuss the region’s location in far east of France south of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), on Swiss border and the fresh, crisp white wines made here


On History…

  • Savoie was part of first Roman province north of the Alps in 1st C AD
  • Vitis Allobrogica – which was probably Mondeuse—grew here and gave the area status
  • The Duchy of Savoie controlled the area, which was annexed by France in 1792, claimed by Piedmont in 1815, and went back to France in 1860
  • Savoie's isolated location and the destruction that overcame the vineyards because of phylloxera crisis of the 1870s means very little Savoie wine makes it out of France



Location, soils, climate:

  • Savoie is a bunch of isolated sub-regions and plots of vineyards scattered across four French departments: Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Isère, Ain.
  • Soils:there is a great diversity: glacial deposits, alluvial soils, river terraces, terraced steep limestone scree slopes
  • Climate: Continental climate with alpine and Mediterranean influences, continental climate is moderated by lakes and rivers. It is hot in the summer but cool at night – diurnals!
  • Weather: lots of rain in summer, but sunny and dry in autumn – saves the vintage



White grapes are 70% of production

23 grape varieties 

Main white grape varieties

  • Jacquère [jah-kehr]:Most widely planted grape variety.
  • Altesse [al-tess] (aka Roussette): Age-worthy wines, Young -- fresh almonds and earl grey tea or tropical, peachy notes
  • Roussanne [roo-sahn] AKA Bergeron:Native to Rhône Valley, aromatic with honey, apricot, green apple, and nuts, and wax. Good acid
  • Chasselas [shas-suh-lah]:light-bodied, easy-drinking dry wines like Jacquère, with some buttery notes


Main red grape varieties

  • Mondeuse [mohn-deuhz]: 12% of area under vine and growing. Native to Savoie, deep purple color, acidity with moderate tannins. Can be red or black fruit, floral, and gamey but the best ones have a prominent pepper note. They can age.
  • Persan [per-sahn]:Being revived from the brink of extinction! Deep red color, dense tannins and a firm backbone of acidity with red fruits, violet, pepper and spice.

Other red grape varieties

  • Gamay, Pinot Noir, Douce Noire, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Joubertin, and Poulsard




  • Savoie AOCis the region’s overarching appellation. 16 crus producing white, rosé, red and sparkling wines.
    • Crus for White Wines: (Les) Abymes, Apremont, Chignin, Chautagne, Cruet, Jongieux, Montmélian, Saint-Jeoire-Prieuré, Crépy, Marin, Marignan, Ripaille, Chignin-Bergeron, Ayze
    • Crus for Red/Rosé Wines: Arbin, Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte, Chautagne, Chignin, Jongieux


  • Roussette de Savoie AOC. “Roussette” is a synonym for the Altesse grape, 100% varietal. Four communes may attach their name to the appellation: Frangy, Marestel, Monterminod, and Monthoux.


  • Seyssel AOC: Dry and off-dry still and mousseux wines. 100% Altesse for dry wines, sparkling wines add Molette and Chasselas to a minimum 10% Altesse.


  • Bugey: upgraded to AOC in May 2009: Still wines of all three colors in addition to the sparkling rosé Bugey-Cerdon. Also a Roussette de Bugey, which is 100% Altesse. Communes Montagnieu and Virieu le Grand may add their names to this appellation.


  • Crémant de Savoie AOP: (since 2014) Sparkling wines made in the traditiona method with at least 60% blended with local grapes (Jacquère and Altesse) and 40% of the final blend Jacquère.


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