Continuing with regions in France that I do not remember too fondly from gazing at them while studying, the Savoie! It was basically the Sud-Ouest all over again, albeit on a much smaller scale (about 2000ha). On the surface, it looks deceptively simple: three major appellations: Vins de Savoie, Rousette de Savoie and Seyssel. So far so good, but than you get to the crus, all with their own set of rules: 16 for Vins de Savoie and 4 for Rousette de Savoie. You may wonder what the big deal is, isn’t the appellation structure in Burgundy for instance far more complex? Yes, but at least there you are only talking about two world-renowned grape varieties whereas in the Savoie, only pinot noir and gamay will ring a bell with your average wine consumer. The other twenty-one permitted varieties are only trackable in various degrees of obscurity, both in the bottle and the vineyard.
Fear not, the above was more a not-so-cleverly-disguised showing-off than an attempt to go all deep-dive in geek appellation studies. It’s not the easiest region, and it doesn’t help that the vast majority of wine produced is chugged away locally, accompanying raclette or cheese fondue during the skiing season, so the number of wines available in Belgium is sparse. I come across a bottle from time to time, and while they can be tasty, I only rarely find them memorable.
Honestly? Today’s wine is close to being the best I have drunk since the start of the year. Domaine Dupasquier’s Roussette de Marestel 2012 is fantastic. It is luscious, rich yet refined and with incredible depth. On the nose it reminded me of chenin blanc, richness of ripe fruit, ginger, a little bit of a honeyed touch even. The richness continues on the palate, even perhaps with a touch of residual sugar. Whereas it does not have the zingy acidity of chenin blanc, it has a leanness running through it, a gracefulness that really lifts it up. It’s the type of wine that stops you in your tracks and demands your attention, not something that just drinks along nicely. Great on its own, and utterly fantastic with food.
So, appellation-wise we are in a cru, Marestel, of Rousette de Savoie. The only permitted variety here is Altesse, which is often a blending component for Vins de Savoie, but really shines on its own here. Domaine Dupasquier is one of the more respected producers, and the traditional methods they employ, picking at optimal maturity, indigenous yeasts, light filtration only are all visible in the fantastic texture of the wine. It does seem to be a bit of an insider hit, for which I am glad, because at around 16 euros in Belgium it is simply a steal!