The Alpine vineyards of Savoie extend over 2000 hectares and yield wines of an inimitable mountain purity and freshness but, according to official figures, less than 5% of the 17 million bottles produced annually are exported. This is partially explained by the huge numbers of visiting winter sports enthusiasts who consume the local wine rapaciously during 'Après Ski', but they are deserving of a wider audience. On the plus side, relative obscurity means they remain great value so perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.
Based in the hill village of Cruet at the foot of the Combe de Savoie, the Tiollier family have been supplying us with their carefully crafted wines since 1999 and we have been doing our best to champion their wares. Their most prolific wine is a pure Jacquère fermented in stainless steel vats. With uplifting orange blossom aromas and a delicate palate of orchard fruit with a fresh, crisp finish it makes a fine aperitif or partner to shellfish. Pure Jacquère is also deployed in a 'Vieilles Vignes' bottling that has more depth, weight and stone fruit characteristics that stands up well to seafood, poultry and the local speciality of Caviar de Cruet (a heady amalgam of olive oil, anchovies, aubergines and garlic). A third single-varietal white called 'Cuvée Emilie' is made from Roussette and has an Alpine flower bouquet and racy palate of white currants and Mirabelle plums offset by a fresh acidity. Not to be overlooked is a red Mondeuse that has crushed summer berry scents and a juicy red fruit palate with a lively mineral streak and peppery undertones. It make a fine foil for raclettes and charcuterie. A relatively new listing and concept is a lively Crémant de Savoie; a bottle-fermented blend of Jacquère and Roussette that has subtle brioche topnotes, an uplifting citrus-edged palate and creamy mousse.