Natural Wine Company

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Category: Alpine France

Mathieu Apffel, Savoie

Originally from the Jura, Mathieu Apffel has been producing wine in Savoie since 2013. He began making small amounts of Apremont with a friend before striking out on his own in 2017. That year, he was able to acquire land and a cellar from a retiring vigneron and produce a first vintage under his name, from vineyards set below the Massif de Chartreuse. Matthieu is converting the estate to organic viticulture and also uses biodyniamic practices. Work in the cellar is minimally interventionist, with native fermentations, no filtration, and little to no use of sulfur.

Wines:

Mathieu Apffel Savoie Blanc “Terroir de Saint-Alban”

Mathieu Apffel Savoie Blanc “Détours”

For More Information Visit: Louis/Dressner

Louis Magnin, Savoie

Louis Magnin devotes 55% of his eight hectares to Mondeuse, all planted in Arbin in the sector known as the “Combe de Savoie”. Another 30% of the vineyards are devoted to the Roussanne grape, known locally as “Bergeron”, planted in the neighboring village of Montmélian, equally renowned for its affinity to the Bergeron. The remaining 15% of the holdings are planted to Altesse and Gamay.

Louis and his wife, Béatrice, are dedicated to organic viticulture, and certain parcels are treated according to biodynamic principles. The vineyards generally face south-southeast and are planted on steeply-sloping hillside sites the soil of which is a clay and limestone mix with an overlay of scree. Almost all vineyard work must be done by hand.

Wines:

Romain Chamiot Aprémont

Romain Chamiot Mondeuse

For More Information Visit: Rosenthal Wine Merchant

Romain Chamiot, Savoie

The Chamiot family has owned vineyards in the picturesque Apremont appellation of the Savoie for several generations, and the young Romain has recently taken the reigns from his grandparents to continue the lineage. Seven hectares scattered among 30 parcels, nearly all planted to the local white cepage Jacquère, make up the vast majority of the domaine. A miniscule 0.2ha parcel of Mondeuse, near the cepage’s de-facto capital of Arbin, also registers on their holdings, however not enough is made for export.

Most of the vines are tended by hand, due to the slopes characterizing much of the region. A few flat parcels in the valley are farmed by tractor. A large percentage of the vineyards are planted to old vines, the majority 40 to 50 years of age, with some parcels reaching 80 years from the original date of planting. Harvest usually extends over a two-week period and is done parcel-by-parcel as the grapes ripen.

Wines:

Romain Chamiot Aprémont

Romain Chamiot Mondeuse

For More Information Visit: Rosenthal Wine Merchant

Domaine Partagé, Savoie

Gilles Berlioz inherited a small vineyard in 1990, roughly a half-hectare of Jacquère and Mondeuse vines, and not enough to make a living. He expanded over the next few years to 7 hectares, but then, contrary to most smart business advice, he reduced the domaine back to 5 hectares in 1999. The reasoning was that Gilles and his wife Christine had converted to organics at that point and were in the process of going biodynamic; seven hectares was simply too much for a husband and wife team to manage biodynamically while still maintaining the quality they wanted. Scaling back like this represented a new start, so the estate was renamed Domaine Partagé (shared domaine). Today the couple makes some of the most sought-after Savoyard wines in France, with multiple cuvées of Chignin-Bergeron, Mondeuse, Jacquère, and Altesse, all naturally and meticulously produced from their tiny chai.

Wines:

Domaine Partagé “Le Jaja”

Please note that these wines are very limited.

For More Information Visit: Domaine Partagé

Les Grangeons de l’Alberine, Bugey

Luc Bauer’s domaine, Les Grangeons de l’Albarine, is about as small as it gets. It’s a one-man show, encompassing all of 2 hectares in the Coteau d’Argis district of Bugey. Even at its height in the late 19th Century, this region was home to only about 100 hectares of vines, but today viticulture has been virtually abandoned, except by Luc and a handful of other dedicated vignerons. Luc’s vines are old, averaging around 60 years, and mainly set on the bare, stony slopes of the Albarine Valley above the town of Argis. The terroir is Jurassic limestone and the topsoil is little more than eroded and decomposed limestone. With the steep slopes and exposed rock, the vineyards receive considerably more heat throughout the year than the surrounding landscape, providing a longer growing season than would otherwise be possible. Luc’s winery is a “grangeon,” a small stone barn that was originally intended to house tractors and other farming equipment. All work in the winery is natural and with minimal intervention. Luc owns a couple of small steel tanks, but most fermentations take place in neutral oak.

Wines:

Les Grangeons de l’Albarine Combernand “Chardonnay Aligo Thé” VdF

Les Grangeons de l’Albarine Combernand Gamay-Pinot VdF

Please note that these wines are very limited.

For More Information Visit: Les Grangeons de l’Albarine

Domaine Montessuit, Savoie

Situated in Ayze, roughly halfway between Geneva and the ski resorts on the lower shoulders of Mont Blanc, the Montessuit family domaine is focused on the vanishingly rare Gringet varietal, a vine that was once a familiar face in Savoie but has now been reduced to fewer than 20 hectares under cultivation. Domaine Montessuit is relatively new, producing their first vintage in 2011, but brothers Fabrice and Nicolas Montessuit are the fourth generation in their family to grow grapes here. All vineyard work is organic and necessarily unmechanized, as most of their vineyards are on slopes with severe 40 percent grades. The vines range in age from 70 to 115 years of age.

Wines:

Domaine Montessuit Ayze Petillant Grand Reserve

Domaine Montessuit Ayze “Cuvée Jonquille”

Please note that these wines are limited.

Domaine des Rutissons, Isère

Domaine des Rutissons is set amid the rugged mountains of Isère in the Grésivaudin Valley. Located between Savoie and the Rhône, Isère is one of France’s smallest and most isolated wine regions, with fewer than 3,000 hectoliters produced from the entire vignoble. Laurent Fondimare took over his family domaine of less than a half-hectare in 2010 and was soon joined by Wilfrid Debroize. Between the two of them, they’ve cobbled together about 4 hectares, most of which are planted to the absurdly rare varietals of the valley: Verdesse, Étraire de la d’Huy, Persan, Servanin, and Joubertin, among others. They also work with a few better-known vines like Jacquère, Gamay, and Viognier. The jewel of Rutissons, however, is the Verdesse vine, whose total global cultivation come to just 13 hectares. The viticulture at Rutissons is strictly organic and the domaine is in the process of converting to biodynamics. All work is necessarily by hand, fermentations are all natural and take place mainly in large neutral oak.

Wines:

Domaine des Rutissons Isère Verdesse

Domaine des Rutissons Isère Gamay “Mes P’tits Gars”

Domaine des Rutissons Isère “La Bête”

Domaine des Rutissons Isère Étraire de la d’Huy

Please note that these wines are very limited.

For More Information Visit: Domaine des Rutissons

Domaine Renardat-Fâche, Bugey

The Bugey, halfway between Lyons and Geneva, is one of the tiniest and most obscure wine areas in France. Although the altitude is modest, the terrain is very mountainous, the roads are steep and winding as in the Alps, and the villages are built for cold winters. The vineyards are hard to detect, little patches here and there on steep slopes looking southeast or southwest, lost in the midst of fields with grazing cows, and dense forests. The total area in vineyards for Bugey is just 170 hectares. Alain Renardat and his son Elie make their Cerdon from Gamay and Poulsard, following the technique called the ”ancestral method”. The grapes are picked by hand, pressed and fermented in cold vats until the alcohol reaches about 6 degrees. After a light filtration that leaves most of the active yeast in the unfinished wine, it is bottled and continues its fermentation in the bottle, reaching about 7.5 or 8 degrees of alcohol and retaining a fair quantity of its original sugar. It is more vinous (with grapey primary aromas) than Champagne, since there is neither dosage nor addition of yeast before the second fermentation.

Wines:

Domaine Renardat-Fâche Cerdon “l’Initiale”

Domaine Renardat-Fâche Cerdon-du-Bugey

For More Information Visit: Louis Dressner Selections

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