Category Archives: Savoie-Bugey-Isère

Renardat-Fâche, Bugey

Elie Renardat-Fâche is the sixth generation in his family to grow wine in Bugey, tending around 12 hectares of Gamay and Poulsard vines. The estate is managed organically (certified) and the wines are crafted naturally. The wines follow the tradition for Cerdon de Bugey, with a cool fermentation taking place in tank and then bottling before fermentation completes so that it can finish as a sparkling wine in bottle.

Core Wines…

Renardat-Fache Cerdon “L`initiale”

Renardat-Fache Cerdon de Bugey

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.

Core Wines…

Domaine Montessuit Ayze Petillant Grand Reserve

Domaine Montessuit Ayze “Cuvée Jonquille”

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.

Core Wines…

Domaine Partagé Savoie Blanc “Le Jaja”

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.

Core Wines…

Domaine des Rutissons Isère Blanc Verdesse

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

Domaine des Rutissons Isère Rouge “La Bête”

Domaine des Rutissons Isère Rouge Étraire de la d’Huy

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.

Core Wines…

Les Grangeons de l`Albarine Altesse en Paradis

Les Grangeons de l`Albarine Combernand “Chardonnay Aligo Thé”

Les Grangeons de l`Albarine Gamay Beauregard