• French Alpine Pleaser: Domaine Giachino

    French Alpine Pleaser: Domaine Giachino

    This year, I have been growingly curious about this alpine region over the more popular Jura. A couple of months ago, I wrote about Michel Grisard of Prieuré Saint-Christophe, who spearheaded much of Savoie's renaissance in the 1990s. Today, I would like to introduce you to one of the vignerons directly impacted by his work: Frédéric Giachino. This was the domaine that originally drew me to the Savoie, and they remain my absolute favorite, for their incredible price point and drinkability.

    Frédéric is an OG in his own right. Native to Savoie, his grandparents farmed cereals, nuts, fruits, and a small vineyard planted with Jacquère. Frédéric asked if he could take over the vines and start a domaine. In 1988, this was a risky proposition, as Jacquère still had a bad reputation. Luckily, the rest of the region quickly caught on, with vignerons like Grisard leading the charge. Abandoned vineyards planted with native varieties were revitalized, and today, Jacquère is Savoie’s most popular white grape.

    Though these are technically “natural” wines, the Giachinos are more concerned with respecting nature and capturing their sense of place. In the 13th century, the north face of Mount Granier came loose and spilled 500 million cubic meters of limestone into the valley below, where Domaine Giachino is now based. Between this and Savoie’s alpine terrain, the resulting wines are brisk, mineral-driven, and extremely enjoyable in Lorch’s words. Consider drinking Giachino’s Jacquère in place of a glass of Chablis, or their Mondeuse over a glass of Northern Rhône Syrah!

    Frédéric also planted Altesse, Persan, and Gamay, among other native varieties. For years, he worked under lutte raisonnée, a farming practice that allows for chemical pesticides when necessary. According to Wink Lorch, it wasn’t until the early aughts when Frédéric met a group of vignerons farming organically, who would form a cohort called Pétavins—this introduction changed everything. In 2006, the domaine became organic-certified. And in 2015, the Giachinos inherited Grisard’s estate vineyard upon his retirement (They still produce the wines under the Prieuré Saint-Christophe label). Today, Frédéric is joined by his brother, David, and his son, Clement, who have helped carry the domaine into this new era.

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    Posted by Sydney Love