Savoie and Jura
10 Sep 2008 by Jancis Robinson

The wines of Savoie tend to taste of the French alps in whose foothills they are made - all crunchy crispness and herby, sappy flavours. My favourite is the curious, deep-coloured, racy, slightly bitter red Mondeuse, but there is a wide range of light but fruity, crystal clear whites, of which Altesse (or Roussette) is potentially the finest, and some increasingly interesting Pinot Noir. The local fizz, Seyssel, can be a bargain and other names occasionally seen outside France include Crépy, Apremont and Chignin-Bergeron (Bergeron is the Rhône's Roussanne). Superior wines come from Michel Grisard, Louis Magnin, Ch Ripaille and a clutch of producers called Quénard.

Even less Bugey escapes its base around Bourg-en-Bresse (the Bresse of chicken fame) but some wines do manage to spread knowledge of the Jura's very particular styles. The seclusion of the Jura in the hills due east of Burgundy has perhaps preserved its traditions of making a sort of sherry, called vin jaune (matured under a film of yeast just like sherry) and, even rarer, the ultra-sweet vin de paille made from grapes dried on straw, which is also made in Hermitage. The key names of the appellations here are the very varied Arbois and Côtes du Jura together with L'Étoile and Château-Chalon, the latter for vin jaune only. Some sparkling wine is also made here.