Should you ever spend any time skiing, snowshoeing, or simply enjoying the winter sights in French Alps towns like Megève or Val-d’Isère, you will no doubt want a glass of the region’s wine to go with your fire upon returning from the cold. You would do well with a bottle of Jacquère—Savoie’s signature crisp white wine— but if you are in the mood for a red that isn’t too heavy, try this lively Chignin Gamay from André and Michel Quenard. The Quenards have been making wine just west of the Alps for almost a century, and today they represent one of Chignin’s essential family domaines. André and Michel are now largely retired; Guillaume, the next generation, oversees the vines and the cellar, producing stellar wines from this off-the-beaten-path region. Even though he fashions this cuvée from the Beaujolais’s star grape variety, this is very much Gamay from Savoie, and not its neighbor more than a hundred miles to the northwest. With notes of mixed black and red fruit and a spine of minerality, Quenard’s Gamay is crunchier, more aromatic, and more succulent than most bottles you’d find in Beaujolais. Après-ski doesn’t get much better than this.
The Savoie is a picture of fairy-tale perfection: snow-capped peaks, rolling hills, and sparkling mountain streams. This idyllic region is where Michel Quenard farms twenty-two hectares of vineyards along the steep slopes around Chignin. His grandfather started the domaine in the 1930s. Though he slowly increased his vineyard holdings, he mostly sold off his wine. It wasn’t until 1960 that Michel’s father, André, began bottling under their own label. Michel joined the domaine in 1976. Today, he is joined by his sons, Guillaume and Romain. Their cuvées go beyond the simple “eclectic” that categorizes wines from Savoie; they are unique revelations that reflect the complexity of their terroir and the artistry of this master.
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