Created ex-nihilo at the end of the 1990s, Domaine des Ardoisières has, in the space of just a few years, made a name for itself as one of the greatest domains of the Savoy. It is, in fact, changing the face of an underestimated winemaking region of France.
It is very rare that a vineyard created from nothing becomes a region’s flagship domain in such a short space of time. Vines flourish with the slow passing of time. Yet, in a village in the Savoy, things happened very fast…
It all began when the passionate winemaker Michel Grisard tried to replant a very steep hillside between Alberville and Moutiers in 1998. It had been a renowned vineyard in the region but was totally destroyed by phylloxera and fell into ruin. Those steep, windy hillsides, with good exposure and poor soils are precisely where good wine is made! The Cévins hillside – where Domaine des Ardoisères was created – is just such a place.
Four years later, Michel Grisard was joined by Brice Omont, a young agronomist who is looking to settle in the area. The two men replanted a panoply of grape varieties which are either indigenous or frequently used in the Savoy: Jacquère, Roussanne, Altesse, Mondeuse noire and Mondeuse blanche, Chardonnay, Gamay, Persan. These Savoy varieties produce excellent results on the famous Cévins hillside, where the best cuvées are produced (Schiste, Améthyste and Quartz).
The domain was expanded in 2007, having bought parcels in Saint-Pierre-de-Soucy near Chambéry. The Argile cuvée, in red and white, was launched from there. These two superb cuvées are somewhat more accessible than their big sisters. The biodynamic domain produces an excellent range of white and red wines which combine purity of expression, richness of substance and personality. In recent years, they have known great success, and not only in their region. These wines are also served in many Michelin-starred restaurants in France. This is one of the iDealwine team’s absolute favourites.
A blend of Gamay (80%) and Persan (20%), Argile rouge is an incredibly delicious wine. A wide array of red fruits is present in the nose, and on the palate, this is a fresh, digestible and sophisticated wine. This wine comes from vines cultivated on the hills of Saint-Pierre-de-Soucy: the roots of the vines grow deep into the subsurface clay, which protects them from extreme dryness and produces more grapes per vine.
The white Argiles cuvée is pure and polished wine with a pleasant level of acidity lifted by notes of citrus fruit and pine resin. A blend of Chardonnay, Jacquère and Mondeuse blanche, this wine is fermented in barrels and vats with indigenous yeasts before an 8-month élevage. A lovely wine, perfect for an evening with friends, to be drunk with cheese or to accompany oven-baked fish and a lemony, butter sauce.
Our absolute favourite. Only 7000 bottles of the Schiste cuvée are produced per year. It’s made from an incredibly rare blend of four typical Savoie grape varieties: Jacquère, Malvoisie, Roussanne and Mondeuse blanche. The vines are cultivated on spectacular, fully south-facing plains and have a low yield of 25hl/h. Indigenous yeasts are used in the fermentation, which takes place in barrels which have already seen three to five wines. The result is an incredibly crystal-clear, razor-sharp sensation on the palate. A majestic white wine.
Améthyste is a blend of Persan and Mondeuse Noire. The latter variety brings structure and spice while the Persan offers finesse and a silky texture. On the nose, notes of blueberry meld with pepper and spices while the mouth is powerful yet balanced. A superb wine.
Made using 100% Altesse and matured for 12 months in barrels (25% of which are new barrels), Quartz is this domaine’s Cuvée Prestige. On the nose it’s open and seductive, with aromas of white fruits, quince, mirabelle plum and walnut, and floral notes (honeysuckle, wisteria). In the mouth, the wine is well-structured and sophisticated, intense and perfectly balanced, and above all, extremely refined and pure. It is, moreover, a wine of remarkable persistence and a certain salinity. This cuvée is unique, and probably one of the best expressions of Altesse around. Any lover of fine white wines simply must taste this at least once in their lifetime! Drink with shellfish or chicken in a cream sauce.