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  • Writer's pictureJacopo Mazzeo

France's Savoie wine region to trial seven historical grape varieties

The French National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) has approved the experimental use of seven historical grape varieties for the production of Savoie AOC wines.

The trial is part of a nationwide programme aimed at identifying vine varieties that require little chemical treatments and that can withstand France’s warming climate. The programme was announced in 2018 and reported by this writer on

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In line with the scope of the programme, the seven historical varieties – Bia Blanc, Corbeau/Douce Noire, Dousset, Hibou Noir, Mondeuse Grise, Petite Sainte-Marie and Pinot Gris – have been selected for their potential to adapt to Savoie’s warming climate.

As reported on French news site, Bia Blanc can make rich, balanced and very aromatic white wines; Petite Sainte-Marie is an early variety and also produces aromatic whites; while Mondeuse Grise is a mutation of Mondeuse Noire and can be used to make aromatic rosés. The widely known Pinot Gris was once known in Savoie as Malvoisie.

As for the dark-skinned varieties, Dousset was once called Jacquère Noire and makes light red wines; Hibou Noir is Piedmont’s Avana, it's late-ripening, grows large berries and can produce light and fruity wines; finally, Corbeau/Douce Noire is Argentina’s Bonarda and was once used as a blending partner to Persian and Mondeuse. It can make wine relatively low in alcohol.

The seven historical grapes will be trialled over a period of ten years during which they are allowed to cover no more than 5% of the grower’s own vineyard area and constitute no more than 10% of the final blend.

They join Savoie’s 22 varieties already listed into the AOC’s regulations: nine dark-skinned (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Étraire de la Dui, Gamay, Joubertin, Mondeuse, Persian, Pinot, Servanin) and 13 white and pink grapes (Aligoté, Altesse, Chasselas, Chardonnay, Gringet, Jacquère, Marsanne, Molette, Mondeuse Blanche, Roussanne, Roussette d'Ayze, Verdesse and Velteliner Rouge).


The seven historical grapes' profiles have been provided by ampelographer Taran Limousin of the Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin.


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