JEAN VULLIEN CHARDONNAY (ORGANIC)
The eastern French region of the Savoie is one of the most exciting wine regions on the planet, and it's near the top of my must-see places to go once we can get on airplanes and visit other countries again.
Savoie is blessed - a cool mountain climate on a warming planet, and about as idyllic a place to grow and make wine as one could ask for. Known more for skiing and other outdoor pursuits, the Savoie is not so well known as a wine-producing area, though within the area known as the Combe de Savoie, there are a handful of great producers.
With little-known grape varieties such as Jacquère, Mondeuse, and Altesse nestling alongside Pinot Noir, Roussanne, Chardonnay, and Gamay, the world of Savoie wines begs to be explored. I was astonished at the quality of Jean Vullien’s wines, especially when compared to most other producers in the area.
How were they producing such high-quality, clean, and fresh wines when so many others clearly couldn’t? It transpired that Jean Vullien learned viticulture in his native Bordeaux and his two sons, David and Olivier graduated at the renowned wine college, La Viti in Beaune.
The region’s best comes from a boomerang-shaped string of hillside villages between Grenoble and Albertville (site of the 1992 Winter Olympics) called the Combe de Savoie (Combe is a word of Celtic origin meaning a sharp, deep valley). Jean Vullien and his two sons, David and Olivier, tend 69 acres on the Combe in the villages of Chignin, Montmélian, Arbin, St-Jean de la Porte, and their hometown of Fréterive.
Eric Asimov, wine writer for the New York Times, recently extolled the virtues of the region: "(The Savoie) produces some excellent red wines, but mostly whites that are as cool, crystalline, and refreshing as a mountain stream. I’ve consumed quite a few Savoie whites over the last few weeks, and the best of them, without fail, made me feel as if I were in breezy meadows among the foothills, under the distant glowering crags of the Alps themselves. This transportive quality is a powerful feature of Savoie whites."
The domain's holdings include all of the region’s indigenous grape varieties, as well as strategically-placed parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The wines range from a crisp, lemon and mineral Jacquère-based white that British wine author Andrew Jefford would categorize as “Muscadet of the Alps” to complex floral and spiced reds made from Mondeuse. In recent years, David and Olivier have also earned a reputation for their excellent Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wines. Though the Vulliens have been making wine for 40 years, the family is perhaps best known as a leader in another segment of the wine industry.
Since 1890, Vullien Pépinière Viticole (vine nursery) has been supplying young vines to growers throughout France. In fact, they were the source for about 25% of the Chardonnay planted in Chablis after the ravages of phylloxera.
The prestige bottling is fermented and aged in stainless, and goes through full malo for a rich mouthfeel. A perfect complement for fish and fatty foods, this highly aromatic Chard is perfect with fish and chicken.