For years the wines of Savoie have been the province of winter sports enthusiasts, who have enjoyed them in situ at après-ski, but they have been largely overlooked by British wine buyers and journalists. Happily, that situation is now changing as their clean, fresh flavours and light and fruity characteristics are getting increasing recognition in the press and finding favour with a new generation of discerning drinkers.
Based in the village of Cruet, in the foothills of the Alps, at the top of the Isère valley, the Tiollier brothers' Domaine de L'Idylle is a family-run estate producing really characterful wines that deserve a wider audience. Their white Savoie 'L'Orangerie', is made from the local Jacquère grape, and has enticing orange blossom aromas and delicate nettle and apple flavours preceding an ethereal, dry finish. At around 11% alcohol, it is a failsafe option for all manner of social gatherings.
Philippe and François also make a second cuvée of Jacquère, called 'Vieilles Vignes', from older, low-yielding, rootstock. It too displays an inimitable Alpine freshness but is denser and more structured and would go down well with some raclettes or a fondue Savoyarde.
A third white wine, called 'Cuvée Emilie' is made from pure Roussette and has an uplifting wild flower bouquet and a palate of conference pears offset by a zesty acidity.
Although production in the region is overwhelming devoted to white wine, some fine reds are made and they are worth seeking out. The Domaine de l'Idylle 'Mondeuse' has bright red berry aromas and flavours, subtle peppery notes and fine-grained tannins. Jane MacQuitty recently enthused about the 2012 vintage in The Times: "A stunning un-oaked alpine red, made from the unusual, crimson-purple, richly aromatic Mondeuse grape with delicious, ripe, herby, seductive raspberry and sour-cherry stashed fruit."