Gringet | white grape variety | Savoie | France Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Gringet grape variety
Wine glossary

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: France

Gringet is a grape variety found in the Savoie region of eastern France originally thought to be similar to Traminer and a clonal variation of Savagnin the famous grape of the Jura. However, recent DNA testing has shown that Gringet is unrelated and is possibly a native grape of the Jura that has been there ever since ancient Roman times.
One of the remarkable things about this grape is that it thrives in the glacial Arve valley near the village of Ayse which lies within the shadow of the alpine mountains very close to Mont Blanc and the Grands Jorasses.
There is very few vines left with the total planted area restricted now to some 15 hectares. Of the 15 remaining hectares, 12 are to be found at Domaine Belluard's vineyards. Here, Dominique Belluard fashions highly focussed sparkling wines and still white wines from this grape which are labelled under the Vin de Savoie appellation.
Dr. Jose Vouillamoz of the University of Neuchâtel has carried out the DNA analysis of the Gringet grape and he has this to say about it.
"Le Gringet est un cépage rare (15 Ha environ) de la vallée de l’Arve en Haute-Savoie. Il est cultivé en particulier dans la région d’Ayse où il produit des vins effervescents et tranquilles de grand caractère."
Our understanding of what he says is:
"The Gringet is a rare grape variety (15 ha) of the Arve Valley in the Haute-Savoie. It is grown especially in the area aound Ayse where it produces sparkling and still wines of great character."
He goes on to say of the Gringet-based Le Feu from Belluard:
"un vin puissant, avec une expression fruitée et épicée du gringet soulignée par une touche de glycine qui rappelle la petite arvine, un autre cépage régional, mais sans sa salinité finale "
Which we have roughly translated as:
"a powerful wine with a fruity and spicy expression of Gringet emphasised by a hint of wisteria, reminiscent of Petite Arvine, another regional variety, but without its saline finish."
[Petite Arvine is a rare grape from the Aosta Valley in Italy and over the border in Switzerland, used for making bracing white wines.]
He then goes on to say that he used samples from the Belluard vineyard to test for the DNA of the grape. The results were:
"le Gringet n’est pas identique au Savagnin ! Il n’est d’ailleurs identique à aucun autre cépage de ma banque de données (2000 cépages du monde entier), c’est donc un cépage unique."
Which we translate as:
"the Gringet is not identical to Savagnin! Nor is it identical to any other grape variety in my database (2000 varieties worldwide), it is therefore a unique variety."
Our discovery of this wonderful grape is due to Michel Moulherat at La Cave de l'Insolite which used to be at 30, rue de la Folie-Mericourt in the 11th in Paris, but sadly is no longer operating. There is a treasure-trove of natural wines waiting to be discovered here. On a recent trip to Paris we made this one of our first port of calls and were disappointed to find that it was closed for a private wine tasting of biodynamic wines from the Savoie that Michel had organised for the trade. We expressed a great interest in the wines so were invited to take part. Michel also greeted us warmly as we had spent some time talking to him a few months before.
So it was here that we met Dominique Belluard and tried Le Feu for the first time. We were stunned by the elegance and the complexity of the wine and the fact that it was fashioned from a grape that was a complete mystery to us. He also makes two sparkling wines from this grape that are perfect aperitif wines.
Paul Howard from the Circle of Wine Writers in the United Kingdom has this to say about the Le Feu:
"Flavour-wise, there are gentle hints of peach and pear, with an underlay of quince, possibly picked up from the wine spending time on its lees. The wine has an unusual sarsaparilla note before a fleeting glimpse of honey rounds things off. There’s good balance too, between the fruit, acidity and a relatively light 12% alcohol - that makes it easy to drink and good with food. This is subtle stuff that will have you refilling your glass in almost indecent haste."
So, if you see a white wine made from Gringet, grab it and you will relish the taste sensation.
We import the wines of Domaine Belluard into Australia:
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