If you know me, you know France is my spirit country, so I was excited to receive two sample bottles from a French wine region that was new to me: Savoie (pronounced Sav-wah). It’s an Alpine region that conjures visions of chic French people in fashionable winter wear swishing down snake-like ski slopes, meeting at the bottom for a glass of wine, bien sûr!
Let me first say: these wines over-deliver on quality for value. Big-time. First, let’s check out the two wines I received and then we’ll talk food. Because for once I crushed it on the food pairings!
Okay, let’s get our bearings, shall we? See Beaujolais on this amazing map from Wine Folly.com? (Best wine maps ever). Look to the right and you will see the tiny region of Savoie, very close to Switzerland. That’s where these wines come from. It is a tiny, tiny region, representing a .5% of all French AOP wine. Most Savoie wines (95 percent!) do not even leave the region – they’re so delicious that the locals just drink ’em all up.
Most of the wines from the Savoie are white (70 percent), but 20 percent are red, 6 percent are rosé, and 4 percent sparkling. Yes, Savoie is a cold region, but the grape varieties they grow there are hardy and can handle temps as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. (The average temp in Savoie is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Domaine Jean Masson Vieilles Vignes Apremont Vin de Savoie 2018 ($16.99). Wow, okay, that’s a lot to unpack. Let’s break it down. Jean Masson is the winery. Vieilles Vignes means “old vines.” Apremont is the appellation, or geographic region within the Savoie region.
The grape is Jacquère, which is the most common white grape in Savoie, representing half of all Savoie white wine. Right, I’d never heard of it either. And I’ll say this: if you like Pinot Grigio from Italy (good PG, like, from Friuli, not cheap-shit PG from Alto Adige), or Oregon Pinot Gris or even unoaked Chardonnay like Chablis, you will like Jacquère!
The first sniff is like an orchard wafting out of the glass – pears, dried apricots, Granny Smith apple. And then you get a whiff of lime curd. It’s got great acidity and an ever-so-slightly creamy texture. I FREAKING LOVE THIS WINE!
Les Fils de René Quenard Mondeuse Chignin Vin de Savoie 2015 ($11.99) Holy mother of red wine, this is delicious. Les Fils de René Quenard is the winery. The grape is Mondeuse (mon-dooz) and Chignin is the cru or geographic appellation within the Savoie region. Why does is taste like? Stewed red cherries, cigar box, and leather, coffee, an old library with a warm fire on a cold night, a little bit of baking spices and even a bit of fig jam. It’s lighter bodied than a big, fat Cab or Merlot, so I would say if you like Châteauneuf du Pape (Grenache-based), Nebbiolo or Gamay (i.e. Beaujolais), you would like Mondeuse.
Okay, so what did I make to go with these beauties? Behold!
This, my friends, is Savoie-style mushrooms, piled onto toasted rustic rye bread. Shut the shut up – it was SO good. Mushrooms are an awesome meat substitute, because they have great texture and they bring the umami (that meaty, savory flavor) every single time. Thanks to Jill Barth, I had access to a digital copy of a new cookbook that came out in October called Alpine Cooking: Recipes and Stories from Europe’s Grant Mountaintops, by Meredith Erickson.
As I paged through it for inspiration, I came across the recipe for Savoie-Style Mushrooms and while I didn’t follow it exactly because I didn’t feel like doing eggs and I didn’t have ham or bacon, I’ll tell you what I did do. But by all means, it you’re seeking hearty, Alpine fare with a European twist, this book is excellent.
Savoie-Style Mushrooms a la Liz
What You Need
- 3 Tbl butter
- 8 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup Gruyere or Comté cheese, grated
- 2 slices of rustic bread – rye or seeded country loaf
- Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
What You Do
In a sauté pan that has a lid, melt your butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook only until the mushrooms start to release their liquid – about 4 to 6 minutes. You’re not trying to brown or sauté them. I know, just keep going – trust me.
Add the chopped onions, turn the heat to very low, put the hat on the pan and cook for 25 minutes. You’re sweating the onions, so they become very tender.
Add the sour cream, then add the grated cheese and stir it all up.
Toast your bread, and then pile this delicious mushroom situation onto the bread and garnish with parsley. Serve with a green salad for a hearty yet not heavy meal.
This dish was awesome with both the Jacquère and the Mondeuse.
Want to see what others’ impressions of Savoie wines? Join our chat on Twitter on Saturday Feb. 7 from 10 – 11am CST. Just search for the #WinePW hashtag and jump in the conversation!
- Jeff at FoodWineClick gives us “Warm Up by the Fireplace with Raclette and Vins de Savoie”
- Rupal the Syrah Queen pairs “Savoie Wines and Tartiflette – Mountain Wines with Mountain Fare”
- Nicole at Somm’s Table is “Cooking to the Wine: Altesse Roussette de Bugey Montagnieu with Crab and Veggie Gratin”
- Cindy at Grape Experiences offers “A Quintessential Pairing: Wines from Savoie and Savory Herbed Cheese Fondue”
- Liz from What’s In that Bottle shouts about “Alpine Wine Alert: Get to Know Wines from France’s Savoie Region”
- Pinny from Chinese Food & Wine Pairings shares “Andre’ et Michel Quenard Gamay from Savoie and Roasted Chicken Drizzled with Ginger Scallion Infused Oil”
- Gwen at Wine Predator is making “Chicken and Savoie for Sweethearts, Fondue for Friends”
- Susannah at Avvinare shares “Brie and Bacon Quiche With Vin de Savoie Wine”
- Jane from Always Ravenous is creating “Raclette Paired with Savoie Wines”
- Wendy from A Day In the Life on the Farm writes about “A Gastronomic Visit to Savoie”
- Terri at Our Good Life is working with “Vin de Savoie and Seafood and Pasta with Lemon Butter Sauce”
- David from Cooking Chat shares “Potato Bacon Skillet Casserole – Tartiflette Inspired Recipe for Savoie Wine”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures With Cam presents “A Taste of #vindesavoie: Älpermakkaronen + 2018 JP & JF Quenard Vin de Savoie Chignin”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass gets into “Savoie wine – a non-skier’s reason to visit the French Alps”
- Jen at VinoTravels makes “Garlic Buttered Shrimp over Polenta with the Wines of Savoie”
- Jill from L’Occasion present “An Interview With Author Wink Lorch + A Savoie Wine Pairing”