The Isérois wines have made a name for themselves through the work of passionate wine-makers. From the southern Vienne region to the Grésivaudan Valley, from north Isère to Portes de Savoie, many of its wine appellations are now recognised by leading sommeliers. Among the most prestigious are Côte-Rotie, Condrieu, Château Grillet, Balmes Dauphinoises, Coteaux du Grésivaudan.
♦ Wines of the Rhône Valley
This area has some of the most prestigious appellations. Côte-Rôtie, wines of Vienne, Balmes Dauphinoises: the wines of the Rhône Valley make for an enticing tasting experience.
A brief history...
The Rhône Valley played an active role in the birth of the French viticultural appellations. In the 1930s, the visionary Baron Le Roy became the herald of the new wine appellation system. A wine-grower in Châteauneuf du Pape, he raised awareness of this appellation’s characteristics and earned it the status of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (Controlled Designation of Origin) in 1933. The list of specifications he presented would then form a template for all future AOCs.
A vast territory with unique soils
The Rhône Valley extends from Vienne, in Nord Isère, to Nîmes, in Gard. An old rift valley that was filled by the Mediterranean a long time ago, its soils are made up of four types of rock: granite, sandy silica, limestone and clay. This parent rock plays a key role in regulating the water supply to the vine. It gives the wines of the Rhône their aromas and tastes.
The Rhône Valley appellations
Their names tell us quite a lot about them. Over time, the Rhône Valley wines “made in Isère” found a place on the tables of all the greatest restaurants.
- Côte-Rôtie. This is one of the most prestigious appellations. On the right bank of the Rhône, the wines of Côte-Rôtie are affected by the extreme steepness of the appellation’s hillside vineyards, which sometimes have a gradient of over 60 degrees.
- The wines of Vienne. Mainly produced around Seyssuel, the wines of Vienne soon attracted great interest. The most famous of them all is vin de pays from Sotanum.
- Balmes Dauphinoises. They are produced in the territories of Crémieu, Morestel, Bourgoin-Jallieu, Verpillière and Tour-du-Pin. The appellation was given in 1979. A number of passionate wine-growers have recently made it popular again.
Vineyards and discoveries
♦ Wine from Portes de la Savoie
Abymes, Apremont, Gamay, Roussette. Red, white or rosé. Wines from Portes de Savoie reflect the territories from which they come: authentic and characterful.
A brief history...
The first grape variety recorded in Savoie was Vitis Allobrogica. Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Columella and Celsus described it as early as the year 18 A.D. The Allobroges were a tribe of Celtic origin located between Lake Geneva and Grenoble, and between Savoie and South Vienne (38), circa 500 B.C.
Where to find wines from Portes de Savoie
A few kilometres from the department of Savoie, the Grésivaudan Valley has many vineyards. One of the best-served communes is undoubtedly Chapareillan. Many small producers have settled there over the years. Their specialities include Blanc Abymes and Apremont.
The main grape varieties in Portes de Savoie and their crus
- Jacquère: This is a very common grape variety. It is the main variety in many crus (wine growths associated with specific areas), the most important of which are in the Cluse de Chambéry: Apremont and Abymes, Chignin, St-Jeoire-Prieuré.
- Altesse: This accounts for a small part of the vineyards but its range is gradually expanding. It can be found under the name of Roussette with no specific cru, and Roussette with an associated cru name (Roussette Monthoux, Roussette Marestel, Monthoux, Monterminod in Savoie).
- Chasselas: This makes up 5% of the Savoie vineyards and occupies nearly all the Lake Geneva area (crus of Crépy, Marignan, Marin and Ripaille).
- Roussane: This grape variety is spread across the Coteaux de Tormery, the hamlet of Chignin, Francin and Montmélian. It produces Chignin-Bergeron. It is enjoyable when young and ages well.
- Mondeuse. This grape variety is found in two crus, Arbin and St-Jean-de-la-Porte. It is deeply coloured and tannic, with aromas of spices, white pepper and black fruits (blackcurrants).
- Gamay. This grape variety produces the crus of Chautagne and Jongieux. It gives delicious, fragrant wines.
- Persan. This famous wine once made by the Bishops of Maurienne is enjoying a revival in Combe de Savoie thanks to new plantations. It is full-bodied and has a unique aromatic signature.