Yes, I am arrogant. So what?

10 avril 2015
France has a lot to offer.
I used to show off pretending that I was “International” and not “only French”. I strongly believe that French are sometimes to self-focus especially when it comes to wine. The world has so much to offer that I suggest – most of the time – to my compatriots, to cross the boarders and open their minds. The Chenin Blanc I tasted in Khao Yai province in Thailand will most probably never from far be as delicate as a Loire Valley wine, but I believe that every vineyard has some interest, and it is worth to go and try. And encourage those endeavors

You won’t believe how many times I heard that “French are arrogant”, “they believe they are the best in many things”, etc. I don’t know what those “things” are, but let me be French and tell you something. We DO know how to make wine for real. I am not saying we are the best. I am only saying: in this country, you can be surprised every single day by a new wine, a new terroir, and YES, I am pretty proud of that (not that I have contributed a tiny bit to that fact, but let me take some of the credit – thank you mummy and daddy)

 So it is time for me to go back to my roots and (re) discover some wines that deserve to make a bit more noise.

After a few days skiing in the beautiful Savoy region, I decided to get to know more about the wines this not so famous wine region has to offer. It’s raining, it’s cold. Well, let’s go taste some wine.

 Located nearby the more famous wine town of Apremont, Chignin is a dump that does not really ring a bell with many “un-French” wine people. True that outside of Bordeaux, Champagne, Rhône and Burgundy, there are not much places that sound familiar to the world of wine. Shame. For the world, and for them who are struggling to export their production.
the sexy town of Chignin

This area of Savoy mainly grows one indigenous white grape, that you will find in the AOC Apremont, and Chignin : la Jacquère. Jacquère gives a very light and fruity white wine, to drink young. It’s ideal as an aperitif, or a cheese fondue but no need to look for complexity; you’re not dealing with the right grape.

But in Chignin, there’s another white grape that will sound familiar to your ears, growing on few estates in between Jacquère vineyards and producing an exciting white wine: Chignin-Bergeron. Made with 100% of Roussanne, typical grape from Rhône Valley, I can tell you that the colder climate and the slopes of Savoy are doing good to it. The chalky soils too.

Denis and Didier Bertholier have been making wine in Chignin for 15 years. Their medium size domain (11 hectares) produce mainly white wine, from Jacquère and Roussanne and a bit of red (from Mondeuse and Gamay grapes). Integrated farming is part of their philosophy as they believe nature should express itself through the wines. Good point guys.

My big crush on that day is going to that wine: Chignin-Bergeron cuvée Saint-Anthelme 2011.

Saint Anthelme 2011 from D&D Berthollier

Unlike most of the whites from this region, this wine has aged for a couple of years in barrel. Wood is not always an aroma that I look after, especially when it overpowers the taste of the wine. I feel like it can take out the finesse without adding any interesting flavours. But this is absolutely not the case here.

The aging here gives body to the wine. Its smooth texture and long lasting make it comparable to its more renowned neighbors from Rhone Valley.

Roussanne (or Bergeron, as they call it there) needs some sun to ripen. When mature, it brings notes of honeysuckle, peony but also coffee and candy. This wine also offers great freshness and a touch of citrus fruits, added to the typical rounder roussanne notes, making it perfectly balanced.

We were drinking vintage 2011, and this wine was still very fresh and young. To enjoy today or to keep for a few more years!

Didier, Denis, you helped me remember how special our soils can be. And that, the diversity wines can offer, is much wider than many people think.

It’s not that bad to be French, at the end of the day.

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