Just before you get to Swiss and Italian Alps. Just before you bathe yourself in fondue. Make a wine stop in France’s Savoie:
Savoie is a collection of seven gerrymandered valleys just warm enough to ripen grapes. Romans called it Sapaudia or Sabaudia: land covered in fir trees. Clearly, they had little confidence in its wine potential. But the French needed somewhere to ski. So they annexed Savoie in 1860.
Understandably, crisp white wines make up three fourths of Savoie’s product. Native grape Jacquere dominates at around 20% of plantings, followed by cool climate red Mondeuse, white Altesse (aka Roussette), and familiars, Roussanne (aka Bergeron), Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gamay.
Eugene Carrel, Paulette and son Olivier run their family estate in Jongieux, forty miles southwest of Geneva. Their 23 acres of vineyards hang high and steep at 1,476 feet above sea level, on chalky clay soils, desperately facing the sunset southwest. Luckily, Jongieux enjoys nearly three more hours of sun than the rest of Savoie.
E. Carrel’s Brut comprises of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Jacquere made fizzy thanks to secondary bottle fermentation akin to Champagne. Promising….
But how does this mountain goat bubbly taste?
The APPEARANCE looks clear, but like pale golden hay, with a rapid froth that mellows into a fine rapid string of pearl bubbles. Lovely.
Mild, fresh, but quiet AROMAS smell of grass, hay, light honey, lemongrass, and star gazer lily.
The PALATE feels off-dry, braced by racing, well cut acidity. Yet a plump little medium body and waxed texture compensate for the acid and fizz.
Flying intense FLAVORS contradict the demure nose with fresh white honey, crisp lemon grass, a touch of chalk, and singing lemon juice that last a medium plus length.
E. Carrel, Brut, Savoie France NV will start any party off right. This is very good (4 of 5) and under $16, a lovely alternative to any Cremant de… or Cava out there. Involve appetizers, salads, mild or young cheeses (goat boucheron), flaky white fish, scalloped potatoes…heck, take off your ski jacket, put on a cardigan sweater, kill the lights, fire up some candles, and warm a pot of fondue.