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For fans of low intervention, organic, biodynamic, and natural wines, there are only a handful of names to memorize in the Savoie: Belluard, Gonin, Dupasquier, Peron, Magnin, Berlioz, Lucas, and Maillet are some that come to mind. While we have many vintages to look forward to from most of these winemakers, our good friend Jacques Maillet recently made the decision to retire, 15 years after bottling his first vintage of "Autrement." Luckily, there' been a smooth transition from Maillet to his protogés, Marie and Florian Curtet.
A young couple from the region, they are fully comitted to the same philosophy as Maillet, farming without any pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. In the cellar, it's all tanks and cement, long lees aging, and no SO2 during fermentation (typically 1mg SO2 added after a light filtration before bottling). Grapes at Domaine Curtet are all familiar Savoie varieties: Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Mondeuse for red, along with Jacquere and Altesse for their whites. We're also were excited to discover that they're planting some Gringet vines that they were able to acquire from Dominique Belluard (the undisputed Gringet master), but we'll have to wait a few years before there's wine in a bottle!
I had the pleasure of visiting Marie and Florian last summer, meeting their newborn baby, and strolling through the vineyards on a sunny day. Sometimes one gets the sense that younger winemakers are still learning the lay of the land, but not so with Marie and Florian. They were so connected to the vineyards, soil, and biodiversity, from the unique terroir of Molasses that they have in the region, to the various herbs, flowers and tisanes that help to keep their vineyards healthy. We're very happy to be working with the very first vintage (2016) from Marie and Florian and are looking forward to many years of great Savoie wine on the horizon!
Fresh tasty Jacquere from Marie and Florian Curtet! This is a perfect aperitif/salad/snack wine, definitely on the higher acid side. I always liken Jacquere (especially from Maillet - and now the Curtets) to Melon de Bourgogne, because it reminds me so much of the stony, mineral wines from Muscadet in the Loire Valley. Drink now or stock up for warmer weather, as this is a perfect thirst quencher. Eben Lillie
A delicious blend of 60% Jacquere and 40% Altesse (Roussette). Marie and Florian pick grapes from a early ripening parcel of Altesse, and a mature parcel of Jacquerre, and harvest, press and vinify together, as they like the harmony that is achieved through co-fermentation. I love the electric side of this wine, paired with the subtle texture that develops with some aeration. Drink now or hold. Light filtration before bottling, minimal SO2 added. Eben Lillie
2016 was atypical for Roussette (Altesse), as a long period of dryness greatly affected the grapes, which are apparently more susceptible to dryness than Jacquere. It meant that phenolic maturity was reached, but with much lower potential alcohol than normal, which led to the wine being completely dry. It's very rare, as Roussette de Savoie wines usually have some residual sugar (usually between 3-10 grams total), but it is definitely not a "bad" thing, especially for you acid freaks out there! Here's a chance to wallow in the aromatic complexity and subtle viscosity of Altesse, with a bone dry finish! I really enjoyed the wine after about an hour open, and think it will age beautifully. Eben Lillie
A blend of mostly Gamay (about 80%), with Pinot Noir and Mondeuse from vineyards in the commune of Chautagne de Serrieres and Cellier des Pauvres. Though they will likely make a bit less of the 'Autrement' in the future, this is their homage to the first "natural" wine that Jacques Maillet produced, back in 2003. It is an expression of the Savoie, and reflects Maillet's philosophy of cultivating healthy vineyards without the use of chemicals, and producing authentic wines that show the potential of the region. Like their other reds, maceration is whole cluster, without pump over or punch down, 9 months lees aging, and a light filtration and only 1g/hl (hectoliter) of SO2 at bottling. Delicious wine! Eben Lillie
The Chautagne is a blend of Gamay and Mondeuse (about 70/30) from the commune of Motz. Maceration is whole cluster for a period of about 6 weeks, without pigeage (pushing down of the cap) or remontage (pumping over), so it's more a gentle infusion than an extraction. The wine is aged on the lees for approximately 9 months. Florian mentioned that the old vines of Gamay produce less - and often less concentrated - grapes, but they are always more "gouleyant" (roughly translated, it means "tasty" or "really good"). All in all a very tasty, complex, and harmonious expression of Gamay and Mondeuse. Eben Lillie
Wow! A Pinot Noir that truly stands out. I did NOT guess this was Pinot when I tasted it, instead thinking it was their old vines Mondeuse. In any case, I was impressed. Marie and Florian are impressed too, but maybe less surprised. As they say, Pinot Noir has a a particular graphite quality (describing the minerality in the mouthfeel) due to the Molasses soil in their region. Combined with a small and very ripe harvest, this is a rich and expressive Pinot! Ripe cherry, blackberry, and spice, with plenty of fruit and a long mineral finish framing it all. It's only 13%, so it's not "big," it just has a lot of character! Eben Lillie