Followed by a Gourmet Gazette Slide Show
There has always been mindful, independent thinking at work in mountainous regions and the winemakers of Savoy are no exception. Here in this region — the only alpine wine-producing region in France— that produces fresh and aromatic wines not always known to the public at large, a number of wine makers are using egg-shaped vats in their wine-making and aging process. The shape of the vat generates the perpetual movement of the sediments during the aging period and ensures a slow, micro-oxygenation of the wines that softens up their tannins, making them less bitter. The process is used for both reds and whites in the region and while it is a relatively new technique the shape of the vat is founded on something the ancient Romans had already figured out, the Roman amphorae which they used to store their wine in.
Wine makers using the egg-shaped vat method produce small amounts of high quality unique wines revolving around the grape varieties of the good earth of Savoy like the Mondeuse, the Roussette, the Jacquère and the Chignin Bergeron, but also the widely-known Gamay. They are by and large aged for at least 12 months in the egg-shaped vats. Savoy is known for its rich yet delicate cheeses — Beaufort, the Tommes, the Raclettes — and a cuisine revolving around the excellent cream, butter and cheeses of the region as well as delicate fresh water fish. The wines produced there, both red and white, are perfectly in tune with the regional fare. Although the majority of wines produced here are whites and they are excellent, fruity and refreshing and a breed of their very own.
The Gourmet Gazette had the occasion to savor a delicious and refreshing white wine from the house of Florent Héritier, the Altessima 2019 which as its name implies is made entirely from the Altesse grape variety (also known as Roussette) which here is organically farmed and harvested by hand. The wine is an AOP Roussette de Savoie cru Frangy and we loved its uniqueness which was perfect with the very rich Beaufort cheese pie that we made to go along with it. The wine was aged for 12 months in the egg-shaped vat made of concrete and stoneware. Brought out in its 2018 vintage year, it packs a powerful 14% alcohol by volume ratio, the highest, ostensibly, that is allowed, although we have seen higher. The AOP refers to the PDO in English or a Protected Designation of Origin label. The Florent Héritier wine estate on the Route d’Annecy in the town of Frangy can be visited as can several of the others in our slide show.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette