Wine Lovers' France: The Wines of Savoie
What makes the wines of the Savoie (or Savoy) region of France unique? Certainly part of it is the alpine landscape. Just imagine rows of wines blanketing the sides of mountains, sloping down to lakes, perched on the sunny, south-facing sides of rocky hills. Topping them are the clear blue skies of an Alpine day, the sun shining deeply, the grapes just beginning to ripen.
One of our favorite new cooking vacations is in the heart of the Savoie, Cooking in the French Alps. It is the perfect place for a culinary getaway, where your hostess Nikki will teach you the nuanced flavors of the region and how to pair the dishes with local wines. The Savoie is known mostly for its white wines, and offers four main white grape varieties, Altesse, Gringet, Jacquère, and Roussanne. For reds, one finds Gamay and Pinot Noir, but the local variety Mondeuse is perhaps the most distinctive and produces some fine wines. If you're looking to try one of the Savoie whites, try a Chignin from the Jacquere grape for a light, dry wine with subtle flavors that works wonderfully as an aperitif. Or, try a bolder Chenin Bergeron (from the Roussanne grape) with some of the area's wonderful meat dishes, or a Roussette de Savoie wine, another dry white, with seafood or fried foods.
Another classic pairing with Savoie wines? Cheese, particularly cheese fondue, or another dish featuring baked cheese. Perhaps this is not surprising, as the area produces many wonderful cheeses.
Of course, to learn more about Savoie wines, you can travel to the region itself. It can be a delightfully romantic destination, but is also a wonderful place to go as a solo traveler, as the accommodations are welcoming and friendly, and Chef Nikki is the epitome of hospitality. As one of our recent guests said:
The hosts (Chef Nikki and her husband Hugh) provided a warm, kind and welcoming environment during the entire visit! Every effort was made to ensure the stay at the chalet and the cooking course was comfortable, safe, educational and enjoyable. The cooking classes were excellent and very educational. Visiting a nearby farmer's market to select and taste local produce to prepare for the cooking classes was wonderful! The walking tours to nearby villages and important cultural landmarks was greatly appreciated. In addition, the hosts introduced our group to a few of the special local residents in the community near the chalet further enhancing the entire visit! Overall, the cooking program in the French Alps was a wonderful culinary and cultural experience provided with great heart, warmth, hospitality and pride by the hosts!
By Peg Kern