Then I met a Jacquère.
It was the Romain Chamiot ‘Aprémont’. I sampled it with the distributor, liked it, made a mental note and moved on. Over the next two weeks I couldn’t get the wine out of my head. It was following me around like a song. I was unfamiliar with Jacquères or wines from Savoie but this turned out to be my gateway drug to Savoie and it’s neighboring Jura region which have become my favorite French wines.
The Savoie Region
Savoie is located on the Eastern border of France by Lake Geneva into the Swiss Alps. It is a stunning mountainous region which exports very little of its wine. There are not a lot of vineyards. The terrain simply doesn’t allow it, but what is made here is unique and worth exploring. Jacquère is the preeminent varietal and is grown throughout Savoie. These vineyards make fresh, dry white wines that reflect the Alpine region. Savoie also produces beautiful sparkling wines and unique reds from more grapes you’ve never heard of such as Gringet and Mondeuse, but we won’t get into those here. One wine at a time.
Romain Chamiot is a third generation winemaker working his grandfather’s land. There are 7 hectares in total almost all of which is planted to Jacquère. Romain is present at every stage of the winemaking process from tending the vines to the cellar. The vineyard is on a steep slope, typical of this mountainous region, thus most of the vines are tended by hand. These are old vines, most 40-50 years, some as old as 80 years. The estate also makes a tiny amount of Mondeuse but not enough to export.
This is a cru wine. We know this because it says Aprémont on the label. The vines are 50 years old. Older vines produce wines with more complex flavor profiles. There is no oak here. The grapes are whole cluster fermented in stainless steel. Using the whole cluster will also add to the complexity. The winemaker uses indigenous yeasts, which is just cool, and there is a minimal addition of sulfur. The wine has undergone malolactic conversion which can have the effect of softening it and has been aged on the lees (dead yeast cells) which will add to the aroma and also lend another layer of complexity.
Ok, let’s drink it
I took this out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before I opened it (I don’t like my wines too cold). Lingering over a wine while I prepare food in the kitchen is my favorite pass time. Even if I’m just cooking for myself I go all out. I make a gigantic mess, eat too much and then don’t feel like cleaning it up.
The wine is a bright, beautiful gold in the glass as it catches the sun. On first impression there are distinct and alluring soft apple and pear aromas over hints of almond and violet. The almond quality of a Jacquère is what I most love about them. The fragrance here is very pointed and shoots right behind my eyeballs. The fruit character carries through to the palate with a little lemon zest and not quite searing acidity. Lush, round and thirst quenching, the wine has a very slight tingle and a stoney, almost chalky finish. It’s stunning. As the wine warms the aromatics increase.
I paired this with halibut in a saffron cream sauce with slightly burnt carrots and garlic chips, tarragon and a sprinkle of goat cheese on the side. The wine stood up well to the fish but the carrots were a little too bitter for the wine and maybe needed something with more residual sugar.
Perfection is a state of mind.
Get This Wine
Romain Chamiot ‘Aprémont’ $22 / 750ml. As part of the One Wine At A Time project, you get 10% of this wine if you purchase it by Wednesday, August 23, 2017.
If you’d like to have us hold a bottle for you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve purchased the wine and tried it, we’d love your feedback. Post your comments here.