The village of Jongieux lies in the little-known Savoie region in the foothills of the French Alps near the Switzerland border. This is mountain wine country, primarily white wines made from the Jacquère grape. They are crisp, refreshingly acidic, and lower in alcohol — perfect for summer heat-wave drinking with fish, cheeses, and on their own.
The wines are getting new and well-deserved attention for their unique, delicious character and value when compared with wines from nearby, better-known regions, including the Rhône Valley and Burgundy.
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One that stands out is the 2020 Jongieux Vin de Savoie from Domaine de la Rosière, a $15 bargain that shows notes of green apple, apricot, lemon-lime, fennel, and white flowers followed by a long, stony finish that coats the mouth and all but demands the next sip. The grapes are grown in decomposed limestone soil, and the wine is made without oak. If you want a textbook example of “minerality,” this is it.
The wine weighs in at a mere 11.5 percent alcohol, the moderate ABV making it restrained and delicate, but belying its expressive character. It was the perfect accompaniment to a summery pasta dish tossed with shrimp, corn, cherry tomatoes, lemon, and some crushed red pepper.
The Domaine de la Rosière estate dates back to the late 19th century. Today, Eric Carrel farms about 33 acres of vineyards at elevations of 1,000 to 1,600 feet, using sustainable methods including organic fertilizer. Beyond Jacquère, he grows other traditional grapes of the region, including Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Mondeuse, a bold red variety that is native to Savoie.
For excellent wines from off the beaten path, Savoie should be on your radar for its unusual and affordable offerings.