Argile Blanc, Domaine des Ardoisieres, Savoie 2014

L'Argile Blanc.jpg
L'Argile Blanc.jpg

Argile Blanc, Domaine des Ardoisieres, Savoie 2014

16.95

I have to confess that, before my visit, I thought that the wines from Savoie would be nothing more than pleasant curiosities. I envisaged diligent winemakers proudly producing wines from local varieties, such as Mondeuse, Altesse and Jacquere, but which had remained 'local' for good reasons.  What I didn't expect were some seriously ambitious producers and some of the steepest and most challenging vineyards anywhere on the planet. Situated in the foothills of the Alps, with the summit of Mont Blanc visible in the distance, the vineyards planted along the south-east-facing Massif des Bauges would provide winter skiers with some formidable black runs. 

I met Brice Omont, the highly-talented winemaker at Domaine des Ardoisieres, on a glorious summer's day just before the harvest and was struck by the broad scope of his ideas. This wasn't some backwater operator making wine for consumption in sleepy provincial restaurants, this was a chap with serious and worldly intentions and his wines reflect his ambitions. He farms biodynamically, but says that he hasn't applied for a certificate, because "a piece of paper isn't going to make my wines taste any better". All the vines are harvested by hand, both for qualitative and practical reasons (you can't get machinery anywhere near these vertiginous slopes!) and his yields are incredibly low, in some cases as little as 20hl/ha, which is a reflection of his forensic attention to detail in the vineyards. He sources his grapes from two distinct plots, one in Cevins, a stunning outcrop composed of a patchwork of nearly 100 separate parcels, and the other in St Pierre de Soucy, where the soil is deep schist and clay, known in French as 'argile', which leads me neatly onto this wine.

The Argile 2014 is a blend of Mondeuse Blanche, Jacquere and Chardonnay, fermented with wild yeasts and part-aged in old barriques for 8 months. It's a wine that strikes you immediately with the crystal purity of its fruit. It's a terroir-driven wine, chiselled and mineral, but beautifully balanced by a core of ripe stone-fruits (apricot, nectarine, peach) which slowly emerge as it opens up in the glass. Brice's main frustration is that his wines are often misunderstood and drunk before they reach their peak (in the case of this wine he thinks it will be drinking best between 2016 and 2020). As you can probably tell, I absolutely love this wine, it's original and delicious and shows the success of the winemaker's ambition to express the character of the time and place in which it was made. Only 72 bottles imported. 11.5% alc.


Customer comments:

"A great find and really exceptional wine making. Felt you could almost smell the day the grapes were harvested" - Mr. D.L., April 2017

 

 

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