Looking for unknown grape varieties one often has to look to unknown wine growing regions. One of those is set in France between Grenoble and often overlooked Vin de Savioe AOC region. Overlooked at least in Germany. The Côteaux du Grésivaudan is part of IGP Isère (together with the equally unknown Balmes Dauphinoises) and have to battle with low prices for their wines, high labour cost, also due to difficult mechanization and high realty prices.
Only through passion and the wish to preserve its culture by some winemakers some wines still find their way to the world of wine. Especially through the use of autochtonuos grape varieties.
Among those are the white Verdesse and the dark Persan and Étraire de la Dhuy grape varieties. The Verdesse I have tried the one from Domaine des Rutissons before and found it to be quite interesting. With only 2ha grown in 2008 a real rarity. Persan and Etraire were still unknown to me. According to Wine Grapes Etraire is a natural seedling of Persan. 2008 only 6ha were planted. Slightly more grown is the Persan, 9ha in France and some winemakers in the Piedmont where it is called Becuet. All three grape varieties are grown by the Wine Cooperative in Bernin , vinified and bottled. This makes them to my knowledge the only winemakers that offer all three grapes as mono varietals. One reason to have a look around!
The cooperative was easy to find using the navigation sytem and also easy to reach with our camper van, something that is not a given in the little mountain villages with their steep and narrow roads. A big parking space, a small shop with their wines and local specialities like walnuts and fruit jams and a free, fabulous view. What more can one ask for? And all very reasonably priced. Bottles range from 2.90€ to 5€. Bag in Boxes are even cheaper. All wines are made without vintage. Unfortunately I did not have time to do some tastings at the cooperative because we were pressed to reach our next destination, the Domaine de Méjane with its camper van space.
The first wine, Verdesse was light in colour. Granny Smith, lemon and lemonade, light soap followed by cooked apple with lavender honey and overripe pineapple but also unfortunately a touch of volatile acidity. Light on the palate as well with a long mineral finish and dried apple peel aftertaste. Slightly watery, lacking concentration.
The second day the volatile acidity has dispersed, Granny-Smith, iced pineapple, banana chewing gum, lavender honey, raspberry soda and chalk. Overripe pineapple and oyster mushroom aftertaste.
The second wine, the Etraire de la Dhuy, was lightly coloured as well. On the nose cloves, vanilla, cherries (combination of cherry jam and ripe, juicy fruit). On the palate light as well, light tannins and refreshing acidity. This wine too makes me wonder what could be made from these grapes if the yield was kept low.
The second day the wine changed only slightly: Cassis, cherry, lightly smoked ham mit cloves. Cherry and cloves aftertaste with light bitter note.
The third and with 5€ the most expensive of the cooperative is the Persan.
The colour shows more intensity than the Etraire, which is no big feat.
The nose is attacked my a blast of Brett (Brettanomyces) which reminded me of cow manure. Luckily the stink is quickly gone only to be replaced by raspberry jam, hibiscus flowers and orange marmalede with saffron. Fuller than the Etraire with a balanced Acidity and plum finish.
The second day the Brett influence has diminished. Now it gives the wine a foxy note, reminding me of concorde jam. On the palate I head the impression of a nice country bread spread with concorde jam without the sweetness, obviously. Acidity seems to have gained in strength. Despite all, this is one is my favourite of the three.
All in all a couple of interesting wines. Complex aromas, unfortunately lacking concentration. So there is still some space to improve. And dirt cheap.