André & Michel Quenard Savoie, France Chignin Vieilles Vignes 2017 Until more recently, tiny alpine regions like France’s Savoie exported very little wine. Their finicky climate, paired with vineyards on impossibly steep, terraced cliffs make it impossible to produce wine here in serious quantity as they do in southern France, for example. Yet, as the wines of the established regions have become harder and harder to come by, it makes sense that we’d all look to the forgotten corners for wines that will deliver bigger on pleasure than price. Winemaking has thrived in the shadows of the Alps for centuries and the Savoie today brings us some of the most uniquely alpine wines in the world. Among the best are those of Michel Quenard. If you Google his appellation, Chignin, his is the first name you’ll come across. It’s no mistake, his wines are in many ways the benchmark for the region. His old vine Chignin is a true alpine beauty.
This exuberant Jacquère pulls you in on first sniff with enticing notes of tart orchard fruits alongside floral tinges of chamomile and lavender. On the palate, you’ll appreciate the refreshing acidity prominent in this alpine white, which frames its mineral-laden fruit amply. This is a white that would shine with everything from fresh oysters to spicy Thai cuisine, yet there can’t be anything better than the local pairing with whites like this–cheese! Or, try it with our recipe for Carrot salad with spiced yogurt and pickled shallot.
Jacquère, though firmly rooted in Savoie’s viticultural heritage, has been marred in the past for its tendency to overproduce, yielding wines with little concentration. And it’s true that less than conscientious vignerons have indeed produced forgettable versions in the past, but Quenard’s are no joke. That is especially true for this rare bottling is sourced from his oldest Jacquère vines, the youngest of which clock in at 70 years old! At this level of maturity, vines naturally produce fewer clusters, whose fruit is more intensely concentrate, yielding more richly flavored wines. The result is one of the most intensely delicious expressions of this grape in the region.