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The Altesse Grape


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About Altesse

(Synonyms: Anet, Fusette d’Ambérieu, Marestel, Plant d’Altesse, Prin Blanc, Roussette, Roussette de Montagnieu, Roussette de Seyssel, Roussette Haute)

Background

Map showing the Savoy region of France

Altesse is a white-wine grape originating in the Savoy region of eastern France; it is also commonly known as (among other things) “Roussette”, though Roussette is properly the name of the wine and Altesse of the grape. Most bottlings will have both words on the label. While there are all sorts of stories about the grape—that it came from Cyprus via Hungary, that it is the same as or related to Furmint (DNA says No), and so on—most of the evidence suggests that the Savoy region of France, where it grows today, is where it originated.

The Savoy grows several grape types, including Altesse, that are grown little if at all anywhere else, and which make distinctive wines. Bottlings labelled Roussette de Savoie must, by French law, be 100% Altesse. The wines are typically quite dry, characterized by minerality and a nose described as of violet, “mountain herbs”, bergamot, honey, and hazelnut. (Saving the violet, our perceptions agree.) Some makers use oak, others do not. Some bottle the wines with a bit of residual sugar, but the best are quite dry.

Beyond basic Roussette, there are particular vineyard labellings that supposedly represent better wines when they appear on a label, those being Frangy, Marestel, Monterminod, and Monthoux. The supposed superiority comes not only from their siting and soil qualities, but also from some extra quality requirements (yield limits and minimum alcohol levels) for wines to be so labelled. Owing to high acidity, Roussettes characteristically age well.

Factoid: Besides Roussette de Savoie, there is a less-known type called Roussette de Bugey, also 100% Altesse.

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Some Descriptions of Altesse Wines

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Some Altesses to Try

(About this list.)

There are eight or so Roussettes available at retail under $20, at least according to the wine-search engines; but, of the better of those, only a few show availability beyond one or two retailers, and those few constitute our list. Nonetheless, if you see a Roussette from anyone else in a wine shop, don’t hesitate to give it a try—almost all seem well recommended. (Watch especially for Peillot or Giachino.)


Charles Gonnet Roussette de Savoie

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Jean Vullien Roussette de Savoie

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Domaine Lupin Roussette de Savoie “Frangy”
(This is not their “Cuvée du Pépé” bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Domaine Dupasquier “Marestal” Roussette. They make several Roussettes: maake sure the “Marestal” is the one you’re looking at.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Wednesday, 22 January 2020, at 2:14 pm Pacific Time.