June 2024

Alpine Foothills: Savoie and Piedmont

Loosening up the theme a little this month to bring in some specific wines we’ve had our eye on for a while. Thus, moving down the alps from last month’s Swiss focus, we look towards the alpine foothill regions of Piedmont, Italy and Savoie, France. Piedmont, a region many are likely familiar with and we have many wines from, is the home of one of our top rosès last year, a rosé we loaded up on for this vintage so we could include it in this wine club. Savoie, on the other hand, is one of the most overlooked wine-growing regions in France (including by us!) and these will be our first two wines from this area.

Savoie has always produced wine but up until recently it was almost entirely consumed locally by the swaths of tourists vacationing there in both summer and winter (Savoie is home to hundreds of ski resorts). With more focus on quality and international interest in indigenous varietals, the last few decades have seen a dramatic increase in exports of these alpine wines. Our two Savoie wines hail from the crus of Seyssel and Chignin. Seyssel, the oldest appellation in Savoie, is a mere 10 miles from the Swiss border on the banks of the broad Rhone river. Its primary grapes are Altesse and Molette, both parts of the blend of the Royal Seyssel below. Chignin is a tiny cru producing mostly crisp, ‘alpine’ whites from the local Jacquere grape, the most widely cultivated in the Savoie.

Piedmont, one of the premier wine regions in the world, needs little introduction. From sweet moscato to expensive, ageable reds and everything in between, Piedmont has a wine for that. Our two wines focus on a producer that encapsulates the multifaceted nature of Piedmont: GD Vajra. The Vajra family has been farming the same high-altitude vineyards in Barolo since 1880 and was the first producer in the region to obtain organic certification (way back in 1971). Aldo Vajra, the patriarch from those times, also pushed Piedmont forward in a number of ways, bringing back and championing the local Freisa grape and being the first to explore Riesling in the area. Now, the Vajra family makes a wide variety of incredible wines, two of which we get to enjoy this month!


Lambert de Seyssel ‘2017 Royal Seyssel’ Méthode Traditionnelle
Savoie, France

The Grapes

75% Molette, 25% Altesse - Certified Organic and Practicing Biodynamic

Producer Profile

 Lambert de Seyssel works land that has been under vine for hundreds of years, although this iteration of the winery is somewhat recent after a turbulent history for Royal Seyssel. Once the premier wine coming out of Savoie, Royal Seyssel fell off the map for most of the 20th century before rehabilitation by the Lamberts. This wine is made in the Champagne Method and aged in bottle for three years. For the money, it’s one of the absolute finest sparkling wines in the world.

Tasting Notes

Toasted brioche, honeydew melon, pie crust. Stewed pears and more nice yeasty bread notes on the palate. A great dry sparkling wine.

Pairing Suggestions

S’mores, a campfire, and folks to share with. Nashville Hot Fritos also were quite nice.


Charles Gonnet ‘Chignin’
Savoie, France

The Grapes

100% Jacquere - Certified Organic

Producer Profile

Charles Gonnet is a tiny estate in the small cru of Chignin right in the heart of Savoie. Gonnet produces a handful of wines from the Jacquere, Gamay, and Chardonnay grapes. The Jacquere in this wine grows on fully organic land with clay and limestone soil; grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with their native yeasts in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes

Vibrant fruit on the nose: pear, apple, lemon. Honeycomb and some florality balance the fruit. On the palate, more lemon, peach, wet stone minerality, and nice florality.

Pairing Suggestions

Buttery seafood like scallops, lobster, or crab.


GD Vajra ‘Rosa Bella’
Piedmont, Italy

The Grapes

100% Nebbiolo - Certified Organic

Producer Profile

This wine is made ‘saignèe’, where the fresh-run juice from grapes being pressed for red wine (in this case, Vajra’s Barolo and Langhe Nebbiolo). This process delivers incredibly fresh rosés with a little more heft than many of their traditional counterparts. Grapes are hand-picked between mid-August and late-October to optimize ripeness levels across a few vineyards and the wine is briefly aged in stainless steel before release.

Tasting Notes

Heavily floral and aromatic from the Nebbiolo. Fruit is more lush and less in-your-face… wild strawberries perhaps. Everything is tied together by pleasant minerality.

Pairing Suggestions

Light chicken pasta with lots of herbs and roasted veggies.


GD Vajra ‘Clare JC’ Nebbiolo
Piedmont Italy

The Grapes

90% Nebbiolo, 10% Barbera - Certified Organic

Producer Profile

Another offering from GD Vajra: a singular wine made in what is believed to be a very old Piedmontese style, unearthed from some of Thomas Jefferson’s notes when he toured Europe to learn about winemaking:

"There is a red wine of Nebiule (Nebbiolo) made in this neighborhood which is very singular. It is about as sweet as the silky Madeira, as astringent on the palate as Bordeaux, and as brisk as Champagne. It is a pleasing wine." - Thomas Jefferson ~ 1787

Tasting Notes

Fresh strawberries, cherries, and blackberries with darting aromatics of violet and sage. On first sip it almost jumps out of the glass, bright and zippy. The floral/herbal aromatics linger beautifully. Subdued tannin (for Nebbiolo) and nice acid make for an excellent summer red.

Pairing Suggestions

Lighter cured meats with a nice charcuterie spread.

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