By Wink Lorch
I am biased of course, because we’re taking about my future book here.
Wines from the French Alps are starting to catch the imagination of sommeliers and wine geeks in the US, the UK, Sweden, Japan and beyond, and producers are increasingly finding willing importers.
To fill the gap in knowledge and share the stories of the vignerons, my second book, Wines of the French Alps covers Savoie, Bugey and beyond. It will be self-published in a similar format to my award-winning Jura Wine book.
Wine pros and wine lovers alike from around the world have pledged to the Kickstarter project I launched in New York on April 6th and the target was met 17 days into the campaign. Now there are still ten days to run, with some great rewards and I’ve extended the goals for funds. The extra funds will ensure I have the time and the resources to make this book as good as Jura Wine and publish it before the end of this year.
Often Jura and Savoie are linked together in books, but five years ago when I embarked on the journey of writing my own book following decades working in wine writing, publishing and education, I decided that these two tiny regions deserved to be split. Jura wines offer intrigue and to my surprise, the trendy end of the wine world was abuzz with questions about the wines and the stories of the producers, which I had begun to specialize in over the previous decade. So, Jura came first. Now it’s happening with the French Alpine wine regions and it’s time to cover Savoie, Bugey and beyond.
Savoie is the main French Alps wine region and often Bugey, to the west is linked in with it. The two regions have some shared varieties, but Bugey also shares similarities with Jura and deserves its own chapters. Both regions have challenging climates (they have both been hit by the recent spring frosts) and intriguing grapes – Altesse and Mondeuse to name but two, but they are quite different. When you speak with the producers they consider their regions to be completely autonomous and each has its own AOCs.
To the south is the tiny IGP region of Isère, with a few brave producers planting on abandoned slopes, often planted with rare grape varieties. Close to Grenoble, it was once a proud region with thousands of hectares of vines and now a revival is on. To the south is the Clairette de Die region known as the Diois, and also the Hautes-Alpes, another tiny region enjoying a revival with a handful of dynamic producers. These last two regions include the highest altitude vineyards in France, higher than Savoie.
The wine regions of the French Alps give wines that offer a gamut of flavours and a freshness and minerality coming from stony soils on the steep mountain-slopes, high altitudes and challenging climates. Savoie producers have proved their worth and garnered many followers around the world and the other smaller regions are following suit.
The Kickstarter campaign for Wines of the French Alps offers backers a range of rewards, from a special early-bird price for the book or the chance to buy a package with the Jura Wine book, to the possibility of me hosting a tasting event for you and your friends/colleagues or even guiding you around the vineyards of the French Alps. Please do take a look.