Monday, February 15, 2010

New Grape of the Month: Jacquère

For a grape I've never heard of before, Jacquère certainly has a lot of synonyms and variant spellings.

What is Jacquère? It's a white grape grown in the Savoy region of France. (photo from Charles Neal Selections)

Where is the Savoy, you ask? It's tucked up next to the Alps. And though the region makes good wine, most of it never leaves the area's fondue parties and ski lifts. Nevertheless, I've been trying to get to know the wines of Savoy a bit better, and while they can be hard to find they tend to be very good value when you manage it, and pair nicely with food, to boot.

Turns out there are lots of Quenards making wine in Savoy, as the signposts to the right indicate. The Jacquère I tasted was the 2007 Jean-Pierre et Jean-Francois Quenard Vin de Savoie Chignin Anne de la Biguerne ($12.93, Garagiste; for more information on purchasing, contact the importer at Charles Neal Selections)

The wine was surprisingly hard to describe based on the usual fruit and flowers vocabulary. Instead what I tasted was "clean," followed by "snow." It was very fresh tasting, with faint, pure lemon and mineral aromas and flavors if you dug under the clean snow to find them. For under $13, this was excellent QPR.

What to have with your Alpine Jacquère? Something gooey and cheesey (fondue, grilled cheese, Croque Monsieur) would be lovely. But if you really want a treat, pair it with shellfish. That's what we did recently, when we stopped into the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort on the Santa Barbara coast in Montecito. They have a Thursday night seafood buffet that is a far cry from most sad buffets you are now thinking about with horror. The Biltmore's tables were loaded with fresh shucked oysters, snow crab legs, sushi, lobster, and grilled fish. And they don't charge corkage at the Thursday buffet, so I brought along this bottle and the clean-tasting wine was just perfect with the clean-tasting shellfish. All in all, an excellent value in food and wine in pricey Montecito.

Sitting by the ocean on a beautiful Santa Barbara night, sipping Alpine Jacquère, all I could hope for was that somewhere in Savoy someone was cuddled up to the fire keeping warm with a nice bottle of Central Coast Pinot Noir!


Taylor said...

Thanks for the introduction! There seems to be endless grape varieties hidden in the corners of France and elsewhere in Europe. Chassalas, a grape I adored when I lived in Switzerland (sounds much like Jacquere... related?) can be found on highly inspired wine lists but not very often. I suppose the Europeans keep it for themselves. Can't say I blame them.

gih said...

Hmm, seems that you find a great place where wine is abundant.