Three years ago, Wink Lorch delivered the most comprehensive book to date on the wines of the Jura. After spending more than a decade becoming an intimate of Jura's ancient landscape, she helped wine lovers and professionals alike discover the geology, local varieties, and stories behind the peculiar looking bottles popping up on wine lists and Instagram feeds all over. It is Wink's remarkable first-hand experience and indefatigable commitment to providing precise technical knowledge that make her work not only important, but essential to any enthusiast's library.
Now Wink has returned to her second home, the wild and intricately beautiful French Alps, where she has promised to take us on another virtual tour of a well-loved, little-discussed wine region. In her next book, Wines of the French Alps, Wink, with the help of vignerons like Dominique Belluard and Brice Omont (Domaine des Ardoisières), uncovers the obscure grape varieties and traditions of the Savoie, Bugey and surrounding French Alpine region.
To help ensure this project comes to life, we have provided a link to Wink's Kickstarter campaign where you can pledge a donation to support her research and self-publishing efforts. Any pledge amount is welcome. A pledge of $25 or more secures your copy of the book, and larger donations are subject to very good value rewards such as a personalized itinary or guided tours of the winemaking region. We could not be more anxious to get our hands on what is sure to become a wine bookshelf staple. And, to get you in the spirit, we've included the line-up of wines Wink poured while she visited us here last week! - Amanda Bowman
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Located on the steep, rocky slopes in the shadow of Mont Blanc, high above the village of Freterive, lies Domaine des Ardoisières 17-hectare estate. With a winemaking history dating back to the Romans, the estate had fallen into disrepair becoming overgrown with forests and remained that way until the late-1990s when the vineyard sites were cleared and ancient terraces rebuilt. The estate is now being overseen by Brice Omont - a Champagne native who took over the estate in 2005 - with biodynamic principles having been employed from the start and native yeasts carrying out all fermentations resulting in truly stunning wines. This cuvee is a blend of Chardonnay, Jacquère, and Mondeuse Blanche which sees elévage in 2/3 stainless steel tank and 1/3 neutral barrique which gives it nuance and balance while maintaining a lifted freshness. Tropical and salty with pear skin and almond notes and giving way to stern minerals and more orchard fruit on the palate, it is an exciting wine for lovers of Savoie whites. Tim Gagnon
An exciting new arrival from Dominique Lucas! Just outside the small village of Ballaisons, on slopes overlooking Lake Geneva (on the French side of the border they call it Lac Léman), Dominique farms 7.5 hectares of certified organic (practicing biodynamic) vines planted in rich yellow marl and granite soils with a limestone base, and some silex stones on the surface. P’tit Coin de Paradis comes from a small parcel of 25-year-old Chasselas vines planted lower on the slope closer to Dominique’s house (his vines are separated into 27 parcels of different soil composition). The wine is vinified using only native yeasts and is raised in a combination of concrete eggs and neutral demi-muid barrels. This vintage captures the essence of Chasselas with a precise bouquet of lemon zest, tropical fruit, and mountain wildflower. The palate is wonderfully textured, and perfectly balanced with beautiful tension between an intense minerality, bright fruit, and a bracing acidity. Blue Moon Fish at the TriBeCa farmer’s market makes some of the best smoked bluefish I’ve ever had (and has beautiful seafood in general), and I’m thinking this would be fantastic with a simple tartine of bluefish, cultured butter, fresh radish, and a parsley garnish. Tim Gagnon
This cuvée is made with Gringet sourced from two parcels, one being rich in yellow marl and the other with more broken-down limestone. It spends about six months aging in concrete eggs (separated by each different terroir) before being blended together in stainless steel tanks. Tim Gagnon
Franck Peillot gives us a lovely Pinot Noir from the Bugey in 2015 with pretty aromas of red currant and cherry with a it of spice on the palate with juicy berry fruits. Well-structured and balanced and showing earthy fruits, spice and smoke in the finish. This is a lovely everyday Pinot to serve cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes , and mild cheeses.
Although the exact origins of this grape variety are unknown, the earliest mention of Persan was in 1846 in the department of Isère. This is exactly what has brought Nicolas Gonin to work with this variety. Nicolas farms 5.5 hectares in the village of Saint-Chef and spends his time between his own domaine and working in a nursery tracing the lineage of ancient grapes and trying to bring back the lost varieties of his region. Gonin’s Persan is harvested by hand and destemmed before it is fermented with native yeasts in enamel vats. The nose is rife with dark, smoky berries, graphite, pomegranate seeds, and blueberries. There are also even deeper hints of tar, pine resin, tobacco, violet petals, and pepper – almost brooding. The palate takes a different tone with bright, tart fruit and damp earth; pepper and herbs come forward and are backed by bold tannins and high-toned black berries on the finish. Serve slightly chilled alongside grilled lamb, cheeseburgers, or roasted duck breast. Tim Gagnon
This is Maillet's blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Mondeuse (turns out, before the AOC was created for Savoie, reds in the region were often blended like this). The vines are around 50 years old on average, and yields are anywhere from 15 to 35 hl/ha (hecto-liters per hectare). Deep and dark on the nose with sultry blackberry and black licorice notes alongside more delicate aromas of strawberry seeds, pomegranate, and savory herbs. The palate is quite fresh and is a bit more straightforward than in years past, with dark berries, smoked meats, white pepper, and a juicy acidity. The finish leans towards the earthy, savory side, making me think that this would be perfect with gamier foods such as venison or lamb. Serve cool and decant. Tim Gagnon
In my opinion, David Dupasquier’s Mondeuse is his piece de resistance. The sunny clime and wide diurnal range naturally results in healthy vines and perfectly ripe grapes which the Dupasquier family masterfully makes into seriously delicious wines. This wine is deep with a dark purple robe and exhibits spicy blackberry fruit, black peppercorn, dried violet petals, and a touch of meaty funk reminiscent of northern Rhône Valley Syrah. The year spent in large neutral oak helps to soften the tannins and the year spent in bottle before release allows the fruit to integrate well with the spicy and savory flavors present on the palate. Pair this with grilled lamb or cheeseburgers! Tim Gagnon
From the tiny appellation of Bugey, due east of Lyon, it is a blend of Gamay and Poulsard. On the nose it is exquisitely vinous with bright aromas of pomegranate seeds, brambly blueberry patch, unripe strawberry, mountain meadow, and tart red raspberry. It is incredibly balanced with an invigorating acidity and lip-smacking red berry fruits with clementine zest and minerals coalescing on the finish. At 8.5% in alcohol with significant sweetness, this would be a perfect brunch companion or as an aperitif! Tim Gagnon