More Savoie, please! Domaine des Ardoisieres' 2020 Silice Rouge & Silice Blanc

7/8/21 -

Mondeuse, Mondeuse, Mondeuse… These days, I’m finding it hard to resist the low-alcohol red wines made from this staple grape of the Savoie. I featured the Bruno Lupin 2019 Mondeuse a few weeks ago, from vines around 70 years old and aged in ex-DRC barrels. It weighs in at 12% ABV. Today, I’m looking at the Silice Rouge 2020, 100% Mondeuse, from Domaine des Ardoisières, which boasts a brilliant (**hold your breath**) 10.5% ABV. This is the first vintage that I’ve ever tasted, and it is purely ravishing.

Domaine des Ardoisières’ 2020 Silice Rouge has a dark red shade, with hints of lighter purple. The nose is woodsy but incredibly clean, filled with aromas of lean wild plums and cherries, with a hint of airy baking spice. On the palate, the wine has a lovely zip, with red currants and beach plums. After the flavors of fresh fruit, a long singular note of tender kirsch adds depth to the wine throughout a fantastic finish. A moderate structure of leveled tannin and good acid complete this knockout wine.

Slopes belonging to Domaine des Ardoisieres

In her book, Wines of the French Alps, our friend Wink Lorch describes Domaine des Ardoisières’ mid-90s beginning as a “phoenix [rising] from the ashes.” The estate, originally led by biodynamic legend Michel Grisard, was part of a large effort to recuperate vineyards in the Tarentaise Valley, and more specifically in the mountainous commune of Cevins. With formidable success, the project restored slopes to functional, workable conditions and replanted more than 400 plots of Coteau de Cevins with Altesse, Roussanne, Jacquère Mondeuse Blanche, Pinot Gris, Persan and Mondeuse Noir, according to Wink. Today, Domaine des Ardoisières is headed by Brice Omont, a Champagne-native who worked with Grisard at the estate from 2003 until he stepped away in 2010.

In 2008, Grisard and Omont also began using vines in the villages of Laissaud and Apremont, both about an hour drive west from Cevins. Laissaud, near Saint Pierre de Soucy, is where the Mondeuse for the Silice Rouge is grown, and Apremont, under the shadow of Mont Granier, is where Domaine des Ardoisières harvests the Jacquère for their Silice Blanc bottling.

The 2020 Silice Blanc from Domaine des Ardoisières is a light, vibrant lemon color in the glass. On the nose, the wine shows lovely citrus and crisp apricot, along with soft grassy aromas and a dash of minerally smoke. The palate has a plumpness of fruit that is incredibly enticing, offering flavors of yellow cherries and plums, followed by a bounce of refreshing lemon zest that persists into the wine’s finish. A touch of tannin and great Alpine acidity give the wine engaging structure.

The estate uses Jacquere from Apremont (bottom left) for the Silice Blanc. Mondeuse for the Silice Rouge is from Laissaud (top right)

The wines of Domaine des Ardoisières are well known in the United States. Prices for many of Brice Omont’s cuvées push past the $100 mark. Look no further than the Silice bottlings, however, if you’re interested in getting to know the producer and experiencing the incredible qualities of complete, terroir-driven wines of the Savoie. Under the organic and biodynamic practices imparted early on by Michel Grisard, this estate continues to work their land well. The Silice wines feel healthy and full, with a great briskness and transparency, allowing the delicious flavors to do the real talking. Only three cases of each are available today… so, who wants them? David Hatzopoulos

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