Back on the horse (pardon the cliché and my delay), 2015 begins with Altesse, a little known grape variety made famous in Savoie. I was introduced to two separate examples at the beginning of the year, not thinking much of it, and now, sprouting like Daffodils in springtime, Altesse is routinely making appearances at top restaurant wine lists in Los Angeles. Inclined to delve elbow-deep so that I could better understand the buzz around the grape, I began my search for a bottle.
Combing the aisles of K&L I procured a seven-fifty of 2012 Famille Peillot Roussette du Bugey—100% Altesse—for a decent sum (in the mid twenties). I took it home and chilled it down, in order to serve with a light a salad and some white fish, reading more about the producer and region to enrich the experience.
I poured the wine and allowed it to stretch out from its bottled confines, while putting the finishing touches on the salad and allowing the fish to cool.
It turned out that my decision to purchase a bottle of Famille Peillot, under the direction of Franck Peillot, was better than expected, since the family had a long and intimate history with the grape. Four generations of family tending vineyards in the Roussette de Bugey appellation on steep clay and limestone soils at the most southerly part of Jura mountain range (think east of Lyon for geography sake) were enough to see what the varietal had to offer.
On the nose the wine offered little aromatics, but with a good sniff I managed to extract yellow plum, citrus, almond and minerals. The palate showed off one remarkable trait while the rest fell into the light-to-medium camp…rapier-like acidity (high acid). The wine was reminiscent of Picpoul or Muscadet but with a little less brightness. Tart plum, citrus and nuts were detectable on a medium finish but the wine was a great pairing for dinner.
I liked the idea of the wine; although I wasn’t wowed, I could see it lending value and obscure notoriety to a wine list, a chance for discussion with an inquiring guest. I have to say that I liked the wine more after knowing the story about Franck and his hands-off approach to Altesse, allowing his wine to show off its terroir with little manipulation. I look forward to trying their Monduese next time, but will save that for another entry. Best wishes on the trail!