More Savoie, please... part 2! Domaine Blard & Fils and the legacy of Mont Granier

7/10/21 -

I have been itching to feature Domaine Blard & Fils since being introduced to the estate in February by Roland Benedetti of Living Wines. I offered 12 bottles of Domaine Blard & Fils' 'Micraster' as an interesting addition to a Jacquère-heavy newsletter focused on the wines of Domaine des Côtes Rousses, but I was late to the game and couldn't secure anything more from this exceptional producer. Lucky for us, new wines have arrived - delicious and affordable, these are real-deal bottles you do not want to miss!
A woodcut depicting the collapse (Hartman Schedel, Nuremberg, 1493)

While waiting for this opportunity, my interest in the Blard family and their vineyards continued to develop and, as often happens, history added a fascinating element to the story.

“Between the cities of Grenoble and Chambéry, there is a valley. Above it rises the slope of a very high mountain. One night the mountain collapsed and filled the entire valley. The pieces of rock covered a space 4 miles wide and 4 miles long. In the valley, there were 7 parishes that were buried under the slope. 4,000 people died...” Salimbene di Adam, 13th Century Franciscan friar and traveler

In November of 1248, the side of Mont Granier, one of the major formations of the Savoie’s Chartreuse Massif, fell and caused a wave of boulders and scree to crush the landscape underneath it. Some, like Salimbene di Adam, attributed the disaster to God’s reckoning on the local communities for their sins, but more modern and scientific theories exist. One popular idea is that heavy rains seeped into the cracks and caves of the mountain’s northeastern face, adding extra weight that could not be supported. The death toll, a number still debated in modern times, was undeniably significant.

Domaine Blard & Fils located directly at the foot of Mont Granier, an area that would have been under the rubble in 1248

The Blard’s have been farming this land for 5 generations, and today production is led by the father-son duo of Jean-Noël and Thomas. The family started with different types of crops and animals, but slowly turned all efforts to wine production. According to Wine-Searcher, the areas where most of their 10 hectares are planted reference the 1248 catastrophe: Apremont, which means “bitter mountain,” and Abymes, which means “ruin.” The soil composition here was forever changed by the landslide, and it is considered by many experts to be the best place in the Savoie to plant and harvest Jacquère. In this offer, we have two fantastic bottlings from Domaine Blard & Fils.

1952 photo of the Blard family (producer website)

The Cuvée Thomas 2019 has a beautiful, soft aroma of freshly milled almond flour that floats above a foundation of yellow stone fruit. The palate is salty, like the best Jacquère are, with zingy apricot and an added nuance of herbaceous basil. A minerally wine at the beginning, it grows in weight, developing a savory and lengthy finish. Amazing quality for such an affortable price! **MAGNUMS AVAILABLE**

From a single parcel of Jacquère, the Face Sud 2019 is denser than the Blard's other bottlings. Floral on the nose, the wine has a savory aroma, like crushed cashews, that develops after some time in the glass. The palate hosts a great combination of flavors, ranging from clean cucumber and salt, to semi-ripe peach and white tea. The finish is long, with a touch of earthy sandalwood. Layered and complex, this Jacquère has a ton to offer!

In addition to the estate’s Jacquère, Jean-Noël and Thomas also produce a Roussette de Savoie. There is a heartiness in the wine that not all Altesse carry - a feature that I really, really enjoy.

The Roussette de Savoie 2019 has a terrific nose, full of green grass, salt, lemon and clean apricot. The palate is just as lovely, with green tea, lime zest, and herbs. The wine has a rather intense finish, full of salt and bitter herbs - exhilarating on the tongue. The general mouthfeel has crackling acidity and ghostly, Chablis-like texture. If you’re an Altesse fan, you’ll love this awesome value! **MAGNUMS AVAILABLE**

...and what would a Savoie offer be without Mondeuse? The Blard’s farm 50 year-old vines in a neighboring village of Arbin to produce a peppery style of this variety.

The estate's Mondeuse Noir 2018 has a spicy profile on the nose. It delivers aromas of dark plum and cherry, with a dash of cracked pepper. On the palate, the fruit is more wild, with blueberries, blackberry, and zippy, zesty cassis. Medium tannin bolsters this Mondeuse, but good acid and moderate, 12.5% ABV keep things fresh. The finish is earthy and minerally, with the classic crunchy chew that this grape is celebrated for producing. So good, and perfect for the warmer summer months! **MAGNUM AVAILABLE**

Large boulders still stand like walls in the middle of Apremont's vineyards. The history of the land cannot be ignored. But producers like Domaine Blard & Fils are working their fields with care, using organic practices. This is their home, and with their incredible products they provide us one more way to view this corner of the Savoie. David Hatzopoulos

Jean-Noël riding in style, working the vines with his son Thomas. Despite the dark history of the region, these two create extremely bright wines! (Producer's Instragram)
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