So says Fiona Sims of the Sunday Times, and I must admit I have to agree with her.
Although this region of France has some of the smallest vineyards in France, they are of course proud of them and are synonymous with the French scenery.
The Wine Route of Savoie comprises 3 marked circuits:
– Combe de Savoie close to Chambéry.
– Chautagne and Jongieux, near the Lake Bourget
– Léman and Arve in the northern part near Lake Geneva.
Montmélian (73800) seems to be the centre of the Combe de Savoie wine tour region. This is 105km (about 1 and a half hour) from Chamonix by the D1212 or 161km by the more major A40 and A41 route. The drive itself to get there is rather scenic, with Montmélian being on the edge of the Massif des Bauges national park. Check out the route to get there.
The route around the Montmélian area takes in the elegant white wine area Apremont and Abymes and the red wine Chignin, a map of which is here. This particular route covers 16 villages and is probably the shortest in distance, overlooked by the Chartreuse mountain range. Addresses of the individual vineyards are found here.
Chautagne and Jongieux route can be found in a similar direction, towards Aix Les Bains.
Alternatively take the drive in the opposite direction over the Forclaz pass towards Martigny, Switzerland. Driving along the Rhone river valley, past the wine vineyards of the Swiss canton of Valais. This is probably the Léman and Arve tour. I say probably as we’ve not done it ourselves, so if you do it, please let me know how you get on. We’re told that Sion is a medieval city with the Chateau de Valére perched above the city within the Valais and is worth a visit apparently.
If you are interested in learning about the grape varieties themselves, this is a useful site by Vin de Savoie. The principle white grape variety being jacquere, almost exclusively found in the Savoie, being zippy grapefruit and lemon zest in flavour. The site also has facilities for selecting vineyards or grape for example.
And to start the spring off nicely the wine producers open up their tasting rooms and cellars to all, on the closest weekend to 1st May.
There is also a family walk through the vineyards with a tasting of wine and local food, held in a different cru each year on Sunday at the end of July.