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Today will be the first of two very special offers in celebration of Wink Lorch’s second printing of Wines of the French Alps. As readers know, every Chambers Street newsletter focused on the Savoie and its neighboring regions relies heavily on Wink’s amazing work for technical information and her expert opinion. It is an absolute essential to anyone bitten by the Alpine-bug. Maps, producer profiles, and more! Let's read, let's drink, and let's continue our exploration of this beautiful winegrowing area. You’re the best, Wink - thank you for everything!
Use the code below at Wink's website for 10% off Wines of the French Alps, as well as Jura Wine, Wink’s first book:
**Wines from this offer will be available 7/28/21**
In this feature, we’re giving customers a chance to snag an extremely limited Altesse - only 800 bottles produced, and only a handful available in the US. Derived from grapes grown above the village of Veyrier-du-Lac on the shores of Lac d’Annecy, the Vignes du Lac bottling is part of a larger effort to reintroduce vineyards to an area that was once blanketed by them.
Madeleine Kamman, the famous French chef, teacher, and author of Savoie: the Land, People & Food of the French Alps (1989), describes many reasons why vines have disappeared from Veyrier-du-Lac. These include the phylloxera epidemic in the late-19th century and the influx of cheaper French wines in the Savoie arriving from regions like Roussillon and Corbières. Today, the current concern is building developments. According to Wink, because the “slopes have been covered by smart villas… it would be impossible for this area ever to regain even 10% of the vineyard area” it boasted before phylloxera hit.
Kamman writes that the building spree started in the early 1970s. This fits neatly into Wink’s timeline: “Developing winter sports tourism became a priority for the French government from the mid-1960s.” For other wine producing villages in the Savoie, this attention and traffic proved to be rehabilitating and profitable, as local workers and visiting skiers needed bottles to drink. But the beautiful communities around Lac d’Annecy, additionally popular for their close proximity to mountain destinations, made very attractive sites for residences. Today, energy is being put into reclaiming what’s left of this vanishing turf by a few passionate individuals, and the Vignes du Lac 2020 Altesse is a delicious example of their small, but important, success.
In the glass, the wine is a glimmering yellow. The nose is healthy and lean, with lemon, limestone and zesty apricot skin. The palate is fantastic, with sparky citrus and white minerals balanced above flavors of green apple, cold pear and a woodsy essence of pine. The structure is bright and zingy, with full texture around a saline driven core that pushes a long, herbaceous finish. Fuller than other Altesse, this is a very gratifying wine to sip - and it promises great development over the next few years. Drink up!
“This is how it all started,” Bruno Lupin wrote to me earlier this week before laying out the history of Vignes du Lac and how he, a winegrower in Frangy, became involved with these young Altesse vines 45 minutes from his famed estate. You might recognize Bruno, as I’ve highlighted him a couple times in the last few months. He is one of my Savoie heroes.
Bruno explained that a Veyrier resident named Pierre Lachenal started Vignes du Lac “to convince owners to rent their land in order to plant vines.” Pierre asked Bruno to handle the farming, winemaking, and marketing. The specific property where today’s bottle comes from was once a vineyard of “many tens of hectares” that disappeared between 1900 and 1920. In 2015, Bruno planted .36 of a hectare on the site, according to Wink. He was able to work this plot because rockslides that fall from the towering Mont Veyrier make it impossible to build houses on. Exposure of the slope is southwestern facing, at an elevation of 550 meters, and has a stunning view of the lake below (see the header photo!).
“It is a beautiful adventure,” Bruno wrote of Vignes du Lac, “and I am happy to participate in it.” He seems fascinated by the Altesse that this slope above Lac d’Anncey creates. “This wine, full of liveliness and fruit, expresses another facet of this grape,” he told me - and I absolutely agree. It is denser and more outwardly powerful than his Roussette de Savoie bottlings from Frangy, which have slim flavors and an elegant structure that seems to levitate a centimeter above the tongue. Seriously, they are magically enticing and today, as an extra treat, we are offering Bruno Lupin’s 2019 vintage of Roussette de Savoie alongside the Vignes du Lac! We quickly sold out of the 2018, and this newly arrived ‘19 is just as good.
Thank you Wink, thank you Bruno, and a big thanks to all of you for purchasing wines from the Savoie and other regions in the French Alps. You’re supporting more than just Chambers Street. Stay tuned, as next Wednesday our second special offer in Wink's honor will be released. I’m excited! David Hatzopoulos
From vines planted in 2015 to clay-limestone slopes overlooking Lac d'Annecy in France's Haut-Savoie. Vines are tended organically by the talented Bruno Lupin, known for his Altesse from nearby Frangy. Exposure is southwest and plot is 550 meters above sea level. In the glass, the wine is a glimmering yellow. The nose is healthy and lean, with lemon, limestone and zesty apricot skin. The palate is fantastic, with sparky citrus and white minerals balanced above flavors of green apple, cold pear and a woodsy essence of pine. The structure is bright and zingy, with full texture around a saline driven core that pushes a long, herbaceous finish. Fuller than other Altesse, this is a very gratifying wine to sip - and it promises great development over the next few years. Drink up! David Hatzopoulos
From organically tended vines of Altesse on the outskirts of Frangy in Savoie, tended by the one-and-only Bruno Lupin. Vines are 25 years of age and planted to clay and limestone soils. Fermented in steel, with 20% going through malo . Like the 2018, the nose of this Altesse is floral and fresh, with lovely aromas of soft almonds, tangy yellow cherries and zesty limestone. Clean orchard fruit, like crisp pear and apple, add weight to flavors of salt and white tea. The most beautiful thing about Bruno Lupin’s Frangy is the way it develops after an hour or so open, as the flavors become more plush, with lovely stone fruit, like nectarines and apricots, wrapped around the crunchy mix of fantastic acidity and minerality. Although there is density to the wine, it has a remarkable weightlessness on the tongue. Drink this today, but it’ll hold up well in the cellar. One of the most elegant expressions of Altesse that exists. Alright, Bruno!! David Hatzopoulos