Wednesday 15 February 2012

In praise of Domaine Grisard

We first wrote about Domaine Grisard exactly 2 years ago in February 2010, Since then there have been several mentions in this Blog, all good.

These were mainly in connection with Persan, a Savoyard variety rescued by the Grisards and now to be found either as a 100% varietal or in blends by other producers.

The Grisards did not stop at Persan though. For a relatively small producer they also make varietal Malvoisie, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Roussette (both straight and aged in Acacia wood), Jacquère, Mondeuse and the rare Mondeuse Blanche which is no relation to red Mondeuse. There are also blends and they run a 'Pépinière' (vine nursery).

Here is the list of their vines in the Pépinière;

Plantation Conservatoire 2004

Abondance Noire
Etraire de la Dhuy (Inra)
Corbesse ou Chatus
Hiboux Rouge ou Noir (Inra)
Jurançon Noir ou Gonni
Rouge de Maurienne
Servénèze de Voreppe
Tréfort (Geusche noire)

Bia gris
Blanc des RosesPinot Noir Gris Blanc sur le même plant
Pinot gris

Blanc de Maurienne = Rèze
Gouin (blanc 2eme)
Hiboux Blanc (Inra)
Maclon ou Fusette = St Pierre Doré
Melon de Bourgogne
Mondeuse blanche
Petite Arvine
Servanin (Inra)
Verdesse (Inra )

The story of how the pépinière was established is in itself interesting;


Né en 1813, Joseph Marie aménage en 1863 les bâtiments que l’on peut voir encore aujourd'hui. A cette époque, il cultivait la vigne et élevait les vers à soie. Vers 1890, le Phylloxera détruit les ceps des vignes. Son fils Antoine les remplace aussitôt par des plants greffés sur place. C’est à la suite de cet événement que les pépinières de plants de vigne ont fait leur apparition sur l’exploitation . Aujourd'hui encore, nous poursuivons la double activité de viticulteur et de pépiniériste viticole.

As well as the varieties mentioned above they are researching the following;

Cépages Rouges

Noir de Conflans



Vert Rouge

Gros janin

Cépages Blancs

Pointu de Vimines

Blanc Verdan : 2me époque Tarentaise

Doucette (Brides les Bains)


(Watch this space...)

They are obviously becoming celebrated locally at least with recent representation in Savoyard supermarkets.

Domaine Grisard is the concern of Jean-Pierre Grisard but there is a Michel Grisard and a Philippe Grisard who also produce wine in Fréterive, near Albertville, Savoie. Our Grisard describes himself on every bottle as Vigneron Indpendant depuis quatre générations.

On a recent holiday in the alps not far from Fréterive we decided to order a mixed case of some of the more basic Domaine Grisard wines as well as a couple of more expensive ones.

Jacquere Vielles Vignes 4.10

Roussette 2009 6.50

Roussette Acacia 2009 8.50

Rose Mondeuse 2010 4.70

Gamay 2010 5.00

Pinot Noir 2010 5.00

Mondeuse 2010 5.20

Malvoisie 11.00

4 x Persan 44.00

All the wines were pure, light and delicate. Some were intense, Some better than others of course. As well as the Persan which lived up to its reputation, we especially enjoyed the Rosé de Mondeuse

which turned out an unexpected triumph and the Malvoisie which was perfect.

The Gamay was too light if that is possible, veering towards the neutral. All the wines were 12% except the
Jacquère which was 11.5%.

In the local Spar supermarket we were delighted to find almost all these wines (except Persan, understandably) - even the Grisard Mondeuse Blanche.

We had baulked at a price of over E. 18 for this but in the event the rarity of this grape and our curiosity got the better of us and we duly went for it. Sadly, this like the Gamay was light to neutral.

These wines from the supermarket sported different labels for 'marketing' reasons no doubt.
The Roussette aged in acacia barrels was much more interesting.

There was a woody note all right but also a hint of resin. The use of acacia wood is not unknown but in the case of these ultra clean and pure wines it adds an aromatic element. Fascinating.

Jacquère and Altesse are indigenous Savoyard grape varieties. Roussette is the same as Altesse but nothing to do with the Roussane of the Rhone region despite Roussette being a synonym for Roussanne there. Bergeron, as in Chignin Bergeron is Roussanne however. Confusing.

Getting representation in supermarkets in the region is hopefully going to be the start of recognition for these wines. They are currently available in very few places in France but quite well represented in the low countries, the Dutch and Belgians having always been canny about wine.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

A model of its kind

We never cease to be astounded by the Pinot Noir explosion which was triggered by an inexplicably influential scene in that otherwise unremarkable film 'Sideways.' Perhaps the elevation of Pinot Noir to a pantheon previously consisting only of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot was waiting to happen. Since then, Pinot Gris or Grigio seems to have arrived in that company without any particular catalyst so maybe there is hope for others?

Peter May's book "Pinotage: behind the legend" was a title on Kindle we couldn't resist. Mr. May also wrote a book (bonkbuster?) on Merlot called something like "Marylin Merlot" which we don't feel the need to download. Otherwise, there can't be many works devoted to the history and promotion of a single variety.

"Pinotage: behind the legend" hasn't had the effect of 'Sideways' so far but is a way it is a model for what potentially could be a genre. There are some other grape varieties which could tell a story - our favourite Ramisco (in that case a tear-jerker), the Torrontes of Argentina (a mystery tale), some of the more outlandish hybrids (humour). Even Pinot Grigio/Grauburgunder has a chequered history (see Johann Seger Ruhland).

May slightly over-eggs the "legend" of Pinotage but it is still an interesting story and this book has everything you would ever want to know about the variety. We guarantee after reading this study you will go out and buy a bottle of Pinotage.

Thursday 2 February 2012

A satisfied customer

Great to see you both the other week. Thanks for making the trek down. Xxxx (with a lot of help from Yyyy) and I have just finished – with considerable pleasure – our tour through the very nice case of western Swiss wine that you kindly bought for us. We thought we’d give you an unscientific review of the case.

As the first customer of the day at 09.30 the wine-seller was most surprised to find a mono-linguistic Anglo man brandishing a list of Geneva and Valais’s finest wine. Having gathered the case, he did, however, compliment me on my exemplarily taste which I obviously claimed as my own and “just something I whipped-up before breakfast”.

Highlights were definitely the wonderful, honey-fuelled, white Domaine des Curiades 2007 which reminded Xxxx and me of the best of Slovenian whites

(try Sutor, Edi Simcic) which I highly recommend as they beat far more expensive French imposters hands-down; the Phillippe Darioli 2008 was also excellent and great with the sea bass we had with it.

The suitably named Domaine du Paradis 2007 is a knock-out,

full-bodied red that somehow gets better the 2nd day (yes, we managed to re-cork a bottle or two). The other fantastic red was the Domaine des Freres Phillippoz

which is very alcoholic but somehow very light, complex and spicy. A bit like a very good Shiraz.

The only bottle we thought was disappointing was the Denis Mercier 2008 which was pretty forgettable. There was also one bottle that they didn’t have (forget which one) so I replaced it with an excellent champagne that you must try – Jose Michel –

which at 34 CHF in Geneva is about the same as a bottle of Evian at the Kempinski. It was an excellent substitute and – in our collective view – hands down beat Pommery, Veuve and Moet (not that we drink that much of any of the above).

If you’re wandering about the other 7 bottles. They were all great; so good in fact that I didn’t get around to writing anything so amusing was the conversation they lubricated.