Savoie is in the mountainous areas just south of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and the border with Switzerland. There are a dozen entirely distinct pockets of vineyards separated by towns, mountains and lakes.
There is a large Savoie growing region North of Aix-les-Bains (a lovely town on a delightful sailing lake) and a small one right on lake Geneva, but our selection comes nearly all from a more southern area past Chambery, where some of the best known names are to be found - the villages of Cruet, Arbin, Montmelian, Chignin and Apremont.
Do you have Chignin? Apremont? Roussette?
They love naming puzzles, in Savoie. The classic whites of Savoie are Jacquère and Altesse with Chardonnay and Roussanne. But they are rarely sold under those names. They are known as Chignin, Apremont, Abymes, Roussette, Sainte Marie and Bergeron... Confused? We explain it at the end of the page.
The classic whites of Savoie are Jacquère and Altesse, then Gringet, Chardonnay and Roussanne. But they are rarely sold under those names. They are known as Chignin, Apremont, Abymes, Roussette, Sainte Marie and Bergeron.
Sainte Marie is the local name for Chardonnay.
Roussette is a name for a wine made from Altesse in Savoie (there are other Roussettes elsewhere).
Chignin, Apremont, Abymes are all regional names for the Jacquère grape.
Chignin is not to be confused with Chignin-Bergeron, which is a wine made around the same town of Chignin from the Roussanne grape, which they call Bergeron in Savoie.
And Roussanne must not be confused with Roussette... Yup, they reused similar names a lot in the Alps. Just try them all and you'll never confuse them again.
The classic reds at least use their own name. You will find a little Gamay and Pinot Noir, the regional star Mondeuse Noire and the very rare Persan.
We also have the rare Mondeuse Blanche and in some years, the even rarer Verdesse.
What is Chignin?
It is a wine made around the town of Chignin from the classic Savoir grape Jacquère (the same you find in "Apremont" wines and most classic "Blancs de Savoie"). This is crisp and delicious and fills the same niche as "Chasselas" in Switzerland.
The most classic Jacquères are Abymes and Apremont but volume affects quality and I will need some more trips to find a really good one. Our "Blanc de Savoie Coutaz" is the same variety from just around the corner up the valley and you really ought to try both.
Jacquère is more generous and produces fresher wines than the other classic white, Altesse, so is often done as a simpler wine, an apéritif or with rustic dishes. From ours you can expect apple or pear notes, a divine freshness and lovely minerality. A good seafood wine and, even though most people drink it skiing in the winter, a real Summer treat.
Chignin is not to be confused with Chignin-Bergeron, which is a wine made around the town of Chignin (at least that doesn't change) from the Roussanne grape. They call it Bergeron in Savoie.
What is Roussette?
It is a white from Savoie made from the variety Altesse.
The wines are "richer" than those made from the fresher Jacquère and have traditionally been made to express more complexity (less effort is often made on Jacquère) so they will often be the dining wines to Jacquère's apéritif. But this is just convention and when both are done right, both are fabulous on their own and very food friendly.
Roussette is a floral/herbal white with honeyed/nut notes. It remains very transparent to terroir which is why we have two different ones :)