2019 Domaine des 13 Lunes Vin de Savoie Apremont
Blend: 100% Jacquère
From: Savoie, France
The wines of Savoie are produced in the departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie with a small slice of the Seyssel appellation in the Ain. In ancient times this region was part of the Pays des Allobroges, and wines from this region were mentioned by the historians Columelle and Pline as already being known by the Romans before their occupation of Gaul began around 25 BCE. After the Roman occupation, the Savoie vineyards followed the typically French narrative of ownership, passing from church to aristocracy to bourgeoisie and finally in the 19th century being broken up among the local farmers. The appellations of the Savoie are spread throughout the numerous mountains, foothills, valleys and lakes of this alpine landscape and form a complex network of terroirs whose nomenclature, no doubt in the interest of clarity, the French government has made almost incomprehensible.
Sylvain Liotard farms 5.7 hectares in the village of Chapareillan, along the slopes of the famous Mont Granier. He began in 2014 and pursues a viticulture that is both organic and biodynamic. The domaine is now certified by both Ecocert and Demeter. Sylvain was inspired by the biodynamic growers he met during his training and decided to follow in their footsteps when he took over the domaine. As well as finding both the vignerons and their wines more engaging, he was attracted by Rudolph Steiner’s philosophy for its pragmatic as opposed to dogmatic approach. It is possible to achieve good yields without compromising on quality which is especially true with jacquère. A crucial element since Sylvain wants to produce country wines that are terroir-driven yet affordable.
In the cellar he keeps things simple, harvest is done by hand and grapes are gently fed into the press using a conveyor belt. Following débourbage (settling) the juice is transferred into stainless steel tanks for wild yeast fermentation and ageing on fine lees. A pinch of sulphur is added both at pressing and bottling, bringing total sulphur below 30mg/l.
Sylvain produces wines in the appellations of Abymes, Apremont and Roussette de Savoie, as well as a white blend and two reds from Mondeuse and Gamay. This is a blend of multiple parcels in Apremont averaging 50yo, all of which are on the limestone scree soils that resulted from the Mont Granier’s landslide (see profile). Fermentation and élevage on fine lees take place in ovoid fibreglass vessels. The latest vintages were warm lending jacquère more weight and ripeness than usual – this wine offers silky, peachy fruit on the palate. Sylvain managed to extract lovely bitters resulting in a refreshing and saline finish.
Wines of the AOP Apremont are produced exclusively from the local grape called Jacquère, the most widely planted variety in the Savoie. Apremont is one of the Cru Villages in Savoie. The AOC dates to 1973. The Domaine des 13 Lunes Apremont vineyards are at the highest elevations of the appellation and are very close to the Savoie border with Isère. Sylvain harvests by hand and ferments in stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts. The wine is bottled the following spring after a light fining and filtering with a total SO2 that is under 30mg/L. The wine is typically 10.5 alc. by vol. making it a “vin de soif” but one with authentic alpine character.
As noted above based along the Swiss border the region's most important grape by volume is Jacquere, a variety that rarely gets planted anywhere in the world except upon these mountainous vineyard sites. Apremont and Abymes are the two most important sites here, somewhat morbidly named in honor of a terrible landslide off of Mont Granier that buried several villages and thousands of villagers nearly 800 years ago. Apremont (the 'bitter mountain') sits at the higher elevation along the mountain, and this bottling takes advantage of some of the higher parcels to catch precious extra hours of sunlight each season, milking out every last drop of ripeness and intensity that can be found in the delicate Jacquere grape. This 'intensity', of course, is all relative.
If you ever heard the word 'crystalline' to describe a wine and wondered what they meant by it, this is the perfect example of that term. Clear light gold in color, the aromas are mostly fresh white fruits with hints of zest and musky melon rind, but all at a very low volume of intensity. The palate is crystalline, and there just isn't any way of getting around that word, with the freshness like mountain stream water punctuated with citrusy acidity that leaves your mouth watering for minutes afterwards. At barely over 10%abv, your first instinct is to think the wine is hiding some residual sugar somewhere. For this grape in this environment it just ripens without much sugar, so this is completely dry and the weight is purely from quality natural ripeness. This is about as refreshing a wine as you can find out there, excellent with a chill to it and ideal with summer salads and cool seafood dishes.
Taste: Apremont shows aromas of green apples, pears, and freshly cut grass. The palate displays clean minerality and citrus notes. Meant to be enjoyed young, this is a crisp, refreshing wine with authentic alpine character.
Pairing: Wines from this region are the perfect accompaniment for cheese, cured meats, freshwater fish, mushrooms, or buttery pastry filled with apple or fruit. It will do beautifully with raclette, tartiflette, Le Farçon (a potato cake with dried fruits and apples wrapped in bacon).