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GrapesIf you come to the Savoie region this year it would be rude not to taste the local wines.

Some 5000 acres are given over to viniculture in the region and produce a wide variety of wines. They are not widely available in England, if at all, but are excellent with light summer food on a hot sunny day.

The list of white grape varieties planted includes Jacquère, Altesse, Roussanne, Chasselas, Gringet, Mondeuse Blanche, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Molette, Marsanne, Pinot Gris, Frühroter Veltliner, and Verdesse. Most of them are unfamiliar names and, thus, a chance to taste something new.

Unusually for France, the wines they produce are most often bottled and labelled by grape variety, making tasting and comparison to find your favourite easy.

White wine predominates in the region. For me, however, the standout wine is the red Mondeuse, which can stand any comparison with more well known reds from other regions.

The Mondeuse grape, which is native to Savioe, was first cultivated by the Allobroges - a Gallic tribe of Ancient Gaul who populated the region back in the day. Vines in the region were typically grown on trees before specific vineyards were established.

Like most European regions, the Savoie area was invaded by the Romans and was then part of Italy for a time - all of which has produced a diverse viniculture distinct from other regions.

The region has its own terroir – this is how the soil and local climatic conditions combine to affect the way the grapes grow, ripen and ultimately taste. The open limestone soil allows air to reach the very roots of vines – good for avoiding diseases, whilst the cooling breeze prevents the grapes from getting too hot in the summer. All this combines to produce unique wines best drunk young and close to where they were produced.

A sparkling wine and vermouth is also produced.

The Cremant De Savioe is produced by the “Méthode Traditionnelle”, it’s like a Champagne/Prosseco cross and quite delicious at a fraction of the price of champagne.

Maison Dolin & Cie is located in Chambéry and is one of the few independent vermouth producers in France. Using recipes from 1821 it creates a white, rose and red vermouth of distinctive subtlety and flavour, much drier than a normal vermouth. A recommended cocktail is equal parts of Dolin and sparkling white wine with a twist of lemon peel. Ask for it by name in the local bar!

Monsieur Mogul

 

Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski and Snowboard Holidays

Ice and Fire guests often ask, when they are with us, what the area is like in the summer.

 Well, let me paint a picture. Two events signal the start of the summer season.snow pic

 Firstly, the opening of the high mountain passes. The Petit Saint Bernard links France to Italy during the summer months and provides a route popular with cyclists, motorcyclists and other tourists. The “Cutting of the Pass” usually occurs towards the end of May and is an event in itself with locals and tourists alike, present for the symbolic opening of the route for the summer. After the huge snowfalls this winter it is delayed this season and they still have atleast one kilometer to go!

 Secondly, the return of the cattle to the mountain pastures. Having been confined to valley barns during the winter months the cows are deliriously happy to be out on pasture again and muching the sweet spring grass. As they are driven to the high ground the cattle are often garlanded with flowers to mark their return, whilst their individual cow bells provide the sound track to the summer.

 Many of the lifts that provide access to the very top of the mountains are open during the French school holidays and give easy access to the chalet restaurants at the top. After coffee or lunchtimCow in Summere repas you can then walk down to the village along the green route that you skied in the winter.

Alternatively, hook a mountain bike onto the outside of your cable car cabin and ride down the mountain!

Summer weather in the mountains is usually fabulous; warm, hot summer days with the occasional afternoon downpour usually accompanied by thunder. It never lasts long however, and once gone, everything dries very quickly. Do remember to pack your sun screen though, you are a lot nearer the sun at the top.

Further afield, Lake Annecy – which many will drive the length of in the depths of winter – is transformed into a summer paradise with the lake full of sail boats, windsurfers and paddle boarders. If you fancy a bike ride, the lake can easily by ridden around in a day, on for the most part, a dedicated cycle path. Annecy town itself is fabulous with canal side restaurants and bars and, on 14 July, it has the most spectacular firework display out over the lake.

There is accommodation at every price point throughout the valley – but for me it has to be camping. A BBQ on a warm evening and the night under canvas is the very essence of summer for me.

Monsieur Mogul

 

Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski and Snowboard Holidays

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