Hello friends. Almost a year ago, we offered our first full lineup of these lesser-known beauts from Savoie, a little French wine-making region that runs along the Swiss border. Offering wines from a region that has limited distribution on our shores has always been a gamble for team Full Pull, but Savoie felt worth it. And lo and behold, Savoie surprised us all—proving to be a hit with our list members. So, this is officially becoming a thing. Welcome to our second annual Savoie offer.
So, what’s so special about this little region? Savoie is widely considered one of the best values in the world right now. This region produces pure, thrilling, crystalline wines that offer pleasures both in youth and in medium term (5-10 years) ageing. (They also produce gooey, ooey cheeses, like raclette and fondue, which just adds to the appeal.) Many of these smaller, alpine, border wine regions equate bang for your buck, but Savoie especially feels like an undiscovered country, with drastically underpriced wines. It’s a combination of unfamiliar varieties and complicated labeling that’s keeping these wines from bursting onto the scene in a major way—and we’re here to reap the benefits.
Today we’re offering a collection from Domaine Jean Vullien et Fils. The Vullien family farms roughly 69 acres of vineyards in the Combe de Savoie, a boomerang-shaped hillside. The Combe contains six hillside crus (top micro-regions within Savoie), and the Vulliens farm four of those crus, including all of Savoie’s indigenous varieties. This is an outstanding domaine; a perfect prism through which to view the beauty of the Savoie for the first time or the hundredth time.
NV D. Jean Vullien Cremant de Savoie
While we’re thrilled to offer all the wines of Savoie, it’s especially exciting to be able to offer a Cremant. This region was just approved for Cremant production in 2014, and wines with the Cremant de Savoie label have only been allowed to be sold beginning in December 2015. This is the eighth cremant appellation in France, a designation that covers sparkling wines made outside Champagne and still puts strict controls on the production and the varieties involved.
In this case, the varieties involved are Jacquere and Altesse, two native white varietals of the region, as well as Chardonnay. This clocks in at 12.5% and offers a lovely nose of peach, apple, and apricot fruit, bready croissant, and chalky minerals. The palate is rich, leesy, and delicious, with creamy fruit and a touch of salinity. Plenty of bright acidity brings this wine home, providing a light yet lingering finish. This would be great on its own all summer long, or paired with heirloom tomatoes, all the creamy cheeses of the region, and much more. Hold out until the colder weather (because as we all know, winter is coming), and open it for any special occasion. This is a versatile, easy-drinking bottles of bubbles.
NV D. Jean Vullien Vin de Savoie Brut Rose
A new offering to the Vullien Savoie lineup, this sparkling rosé done in the traditional method showed so well that we couldn’t pass up adding a second bubbly today. Made up of 50% Gamay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 20% Mondeuse, all manually harvested, this is a striking sparkling bottle. It pours orangey-pink in color and opens with notes of citrus blossoms, peach, wild strawberries, and freshly-baked brioche. Clocking in at 12% listed alc., the palate is creamy, with plenty of fine bubbles and citrusy acid that elevate this wine across the tongue. The finish is mouthwatering and lingering.
This rosé would pair well with most foods, but would be particularly lovely with all sorts of summer picnic foods—grilled chicken, potato salad, watermelon wedges. It would also be perfect with a hot basket of french fries. If you’re looking for something different, I would use this rosé as a base for an early evening aperitif cocktail, like an Aperol spritz.
2016 D. Jean Vullien Roussette de Savoie Cepage Altesse
Altesse is an indigenous white to the region—and is usually considered a step up in seriousness and age worthiness from the entry level wines of the region. The Vulliens grow about six acres of Altesse across multiple crus. With 5 – 7 years of age, this wine takes on loads of toasty honeyed complexities, but right now, this one is youthful and fresh as can be.
It opens with an alpine nose of peach, fresh cut melon, and apricot. The palate is dry and brightly acidic, with citrusy salinity and minerality that has a real palate-staining character. Truly, this one just lingers and lingers with salty alpine goodness. It’s a wine that’s intense and electric—and considering that complexity and intensity here, it will easily last a decade and get more and more interesting with each passing year.
2015 D. Jean Vullien Vin de Savoie Chignin-Bergeron
This is technically a reoffer from last year’s Savoie offer. With an extra year in bottle, this wine has continued to grow and develop, and after tasting it again, we decided it had to be offered.
Let’s start by decoding this bottle. Chignin is the place (cru located here), and Bergeron is the grape. Though the name is new, Bergeron is simply what locals call a very familiar grape: Roussanne. But this is not the Roussanne you’ve become acquainted with. It’s clearly related to Rhone Roussanne (and the extra year of bottle age helps show this connection off), and is clearly a distant relative of new-world Roussanne. Savoie’s Bergeron is like the Roussanne you know and love—just filtered through the Alps.
It begins with a nose of orange blossom and other Alpine flowers, nectarine, and a dusty/chalky mineral element. One of the great things about all these Alpine Savoie whites is their insistent mineral character—and Roussanne shows this off beautifully. At 13% listed alc, this wine offers all the density and intensity we expect from Roussanne, but at a moderate weight. It also offers a robust, full-blooded earthiness that is just wonderful. For our Rhone fans, this is a bottle to try: austerely-fruited, beautifully mineral, complex, savory, and fascinating.
2015 D. Jean Vullien Vin de Savoie St. Jean de la Porte Mondeuse
While Savoie is best known for its white wines, it does contain an indigenous red as well: Mondeuse. These wines, like their white counterparts, are known for structured acidity, with the addition of subtle, integrated tannins. The Vullien family farms Mondeuse in the cru St. Jean de la Porte (located here).
This wine clocks in 12.5% listed alc and immediately presents a purity reminiscent of Burgundy on the nose, with that alluring and light mix of wild berry fruit, freshly-ground black pepper, cracked stone minerality, and spicy, fresh herbs. On the palate, it’s juicy, revisiting the mix of wild berries, with a gritty texture that leads to a super dry finish. There’s real verve here; this hums across the palate with its mix of rocks and fruit and flowers. Put a light chill on this and drink it all summer long, or stow it away until November for a place on the Thanksgiving table.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.