The place is the sub-Alpine hills in the Savoie region of France. The grape is the stylish and sassy Jacquere. And the appellation is the somewhat misleadingly staid “Vin de Savoie”. Within this greater viticultural distinction however, there are multiple demarcated sub-zones, or perhaps more correctly cru, and one of these is the white-wine-producing patch of stony earth called Abymes (ah-BEEM).
Savoie is an often harsh and somewhat isolated, bifurcated (into Savoie and Haute Savoie) region in far-western central France, with the more northerly Haute Savoie portion directly abutting Switzerland. This is a beautiful if not somewhat melancholic fold of the greater Alpine region that is set with lakes and castles and lots of steep, forested terrain. Not surprisingly, a place like this has over the centuries given birth to a few peculiar vine varieties and the white Jacquere is one of them.
As I said to Jen after finishing dinner, this is a dog (grape actually) that packs a lot of fight into a little package. This wine only measures out to 11% alcohol, but… The low alcohol, and crisp, characterful personality of Jacquere unequivocally make it a great aperitif, or a great match with almost any appetizer. That said, this wine is not what you’d call subtle or delicate. It is very elegant, but it has a taut, spunky curviness too, and a spicy, punchy white and yellow fruit profile that allowed it to perfectly handle some roasted asparagus (the first good, fat ones I’ve seen from the northern hemisphere – it’s been so warm, it’s no wonder the season is early) that I served with a home made garlic parsley mayonnaise, and some crepes I made and stuffed with my own imagining of a French Alpine filling of smoked mackerel, sauteed dandelion and arugula, with creme fraiche, lemon and marjoram.
Domaine Roger Labbe`Vin de Savoie Abymes 2010
Very pale “champagne gold” color. Very clean nose of minerals, lime, hazelnut paste, hay, candied fennel, yellow fruits, and a touch of green olive. In the mouth the wine is medium-bodied, but still somewhat and rich, with a tidy, fresh and bright acidity to more than balance it and springboard etched flavors of apple, powdered ginger, herbs, dried peaches, and stewed quince. The finish is tart, warm and lingering with white pepper, honey, and tonic water notes.