Sommelier Damon Little introduces one of his favourite finds from the Savoie.

Roussette de Savoie ‘Cuvée Emilie’ 2017, Domaine Idylle, Savoie, France

The Savoie seems to be the underdog of wine regions when compared to the more famous regions of Burgundy and Loire. The appeal for us is that there is untapped quality in abundance if one is willing to take a closer look. The most respected white grape of the region is called Altesse, known locally as Roussette, hence the appellation name of Roussette de Savoie.

We work closely with a domaine located in Cruet, halfway between Chambery and Albertville. The domaine is aptly called Domaine de L’Idylle as it lies on the south facing slopes of the Isere Valley within the boundaries of ‘Massif des Bauges’ National park. It was established in 1840 and the 20 hectare estate is owned by brothers Phillipe and Francois Tiollier. They make a wine we absolutely cherish for its high quality, depth of flavour and complexity, but above all its ability to work with our food.

The wine is known as Cuvee Emillie. It is made from 100% Altesse grapes, picked by hand from vines averaging 30 years old, grown on stony alluvial topsoil that sits above a Marl bedrock. Marl is a lime-rich rock which influences a chalky mineral backbone on the palate giving these wines great structure. The cool climate conditions create wines with very persistent acidity that balances the rich body of these wines. Grapes are pressed immediately following harvest. The juice is left to settle for 36-48 hours and then decanted into stainless steel tanks for fermentation at 16°C-18°C. Half of the wine undergoes a malolactic conversion. This process creates a lovely buttery type flavour by converting harsh malic acid into lactic acid and releasing diacetyl. Admittedly, it sounds very technical but is a natural process.

The outcome is a wine that has incredibly pronounced aromas of butterscotch, honey and brown butter, with caramelised notes of stone fruit. All of these aromas follow on to the palate seamlessly which is where it becomes fascinating, as all those characteristics are associated with sweetness, but the wine finishes perfectly dry and mineral which means we can pair it to quite punchy flavours without the worry of it overpowering the variety of flavours the seafood has to offer.