Over the last few years I've found myself reaching more and more for new cool climate French wines, and the summer is no exception. The one region that has captured my attention the very most is the Savoie, located just along the Swiss border in view of Mont Blanc. Although history is as steep as the slopes here, it's a younger domaine that's arguably making the most exciting wines. When I'm craving those cool alpine inflections and mineral spring purity in both whites and reds, it's Domaine des Ardoisières I turn to.
Today, I'm happy to offer the two wines from Ardoisières that bring the greatest thrills and the most electric minerality, the Schiste Blanc and Argile Rouge.
Ardoisières works with two sites in the Savoie, Cevins and St. Pierre de Soucy, both farmed biodynamically since its 1998 founding. Although, these same vineyards had been planted back in Roman times, but had become taken over by forests as the region fell into obscurity. A group had cleared these forests in the late 1990's for replanting, and then in 2005 Champagne native, Brice Omont took the lead on winemaking. This small-production estate has become the darling of the Savoie, and has been a champion in making the case for the region's great potential.
Ardoisières' most mineral-driven and age-worthy white, Schiste, is comprised of 40% Jacquere with 30% Roussanne, 20% Pinot Gris, and 10% Mondeuse Blanche. These decomposed granite soils in Cevins give a racy personality with a pulverized rocky core that make it one of my favorite crisp whites in all of France. There's a yellow stone fruit quality that's backed up by a laser-like mineral precision that brings superb freshness. On a steamy Bordeaux night last month I stumbled onto a killer wine bar and it took me about 10 seconds to make this selection from a sea of gems. In all, that first glass may have been the single most satisfying one through my three week tour.
The top red of the domaine, Argile, is comprised of 80% Gamay and 20% Persan coming from the clay-dominant soils of St. Pierre de Soucy. As compared to the Gamay we're all more accustomed to from Beaujolais, this Savoie rendition has a lighter body and more pepper tones with a super pronounced mineral finish. The fruit profile is more in the red raspberry realm vs. those plush grape-ey traits from Beaujolais. And the finish lingers with a brisk mineral flicker that's lip-smacking good!
2016 Domaine des Ardoisières Argile Rouge
$45 per bottle.
2016 Domaine des Ardoisières Schiste Blanc
$68 per bottle.
2014 Domaine des Ardoisières Argile Rouge
$48 per bottle.