Savoie is a French region located in the Western Alps in the south-western part of France, mainly known for its beautiful mountain landscapes and ski resorts. The wines of Savoy, despite its more than 2000 hectares of vineyards, are little known outside France and Savoy itself.
Savoy is divided into four departments: Savoie, Haute Savoie, Isère and Ain, each characterised by a different microclimate, but a cold mountain climate can generally be found throughout the region, so that vineyards are mainly distributed in areas with good sun exposure or close to watercourses that mitigate the climate.
In fact, most of the vineyards are located to the north near Lake Geneva, to the south along the Rhone or the Isère river, at altitudes between 250 and 500 metres above sea level, on soils that are essentially limestone-clayey. This typical mountain climate has allowed for the development of various types of native vines, in particular 23 different species from which white wines (around 70% of total production) are produced, fresh and pleasant in dry or sparkling versions, and reds ranging from the simplest to the most complex and interesting versions, often clearly influenced by the style of nearby Beaujolais.
The most widespread white grape variety in Savoy is Jacquère, characterised by citrus and acacia aromas and considerable acidity. The best wines from this variety are found near the village of Chambéry. It is followed by Altesse, also called Roussette because the berries take on a pink colour as they ripen, a grape from which aromatic, pleasantly fresh and fruity wines are made.
Roussanne is the white grape of the Rhone Valley, in Savoy locally known as Bergeran, from which powerful white wines are produced that lend themselves well to ageing. Much less widespread but interesting is the Gringet grape variety, while it is easy to find less characteristic examples of Chardonnay and Aligotè-based wines. For red grapes we find the famous Mondeuse, a grape variety that is considered a relative of Syrah and like it is characterised by a nice spiciness, from which full-bodied red wines with important tannin are obtained.
Less widespread is Persan, while it is usual to find wines from Pinot Noir and Gamay, due to its proximity to the Beujolais region. The most widespread appellation of origin in Savoie is the Vin De Savoie AOC, which encompasses several Crus scattered throughout the region with a predominance of white wines in the north and reds in the south.
Most of the wines under this appellation are followed by the name of the Cru and that of the grape variety. The AOC Roussette de Savoie, on the other hand, is dedicated to the Altesse or Rousette grape variety, while the AOC Seyssel includes wines based mainly on Chasselas with small percentages of Roussette. Both AOCs are located in the central part of the region, and a fourth was added to these three in 2014: Crémant de Savoie, with wines based on Jacquère and Altesse.