Lately, as happens so often this time of year, the majority of my Sundays (and some weekdays too) have been defined by that specific form of seasonal inertia that makes the couch seem like the only tolerable destination. After a whole lot of sitting, and reading, and sitting some more, I'll glance at my watch— only to discover that, although the window has been opaque for hours, the "little hand" still hasn't passed six or seven o'clock.
At this point, it's entirely natural to crave a bit of liquid diversion. By this, you might assume I’m talking about big, brawny reds from rustic, sun-baked climes— "a beaker full of the warm South," as a far more eloquent commentator once put it. But I've actually found myself gravitating toward whites: the richer, fuller-bodied versions capable of delivering just as much vinous comfort as their more obvious red counterparts.
A fifth-generation winemaker
now at the helm of his family estate, David Dupasquier adopts a
minimalist approach to his work in the vineyards and the cellar. For one, he harvests entirely by hand, which, given the precariously steep vines he tends, must pose a considerable challenge. Among other praiseworthy practices, he also makes a point of fermenting with
indigenous rather than commercial yeasts, which better allows the underlying materials of the wine to shine through. The result of such meticulous care is an unusually fleshy, complex, and profound expression of the Jacquère grape, which overturns expectations while remaining utterly true to its place of origin.
Personally, I love the high-altitude clarity possessed by so many wines from Savoie, and this particular bottle was no exception: clocking in at a relatively low 11.5% alcohol, it possessed a bright wash of acidity and a stony mineral core. This is probably a symptom of my overly susceptible imagination, but whenever I drink wines from this part of the world, I immediately envision myself in some unspoiled 19th-century pastoral scene, complete with herds of grazing cattle, sleepy little cottages, and the token babbling brook. A landscape, in other words, that looks something like this:
Technicolor fantasies aside, it can't be denied that, at their best, the area's wines communicate an indelible, unmistakable sense of place, all mountain air and meadow grass and wildflowers.
Despite its deceptively lithe and nimble frame, however,
the Dupasquier Jacquère managed to deliver a sense of weight without being
weighty, gesturing toward richness with its slightly honeyed tones and a fuller,
creamier texture than any other expression of the grape I’ve encountered. In this respect, the wine seems to me like an Alpine version of some of the higher-end Muscadet cuvées I've written about elsewhere. While I can't say it was a perfect match, the bottle offered more than enough substance to
hold up to the relatively hearty dinner I prepared for it: a juicy roast pork loin
marinated in honey, garlic, mustard and thyme.
Why wasn't the pairing pitch perfect? Don't get me wrong, it was an excellent effort: the Jacquère's brisk acidity had no problem handling that crisp layer of fat, without being overwhelmed by all the intense porcine flavors and aromas.
I only mention the possibility of room for improvement because I suspect that an even lovelier counterpoint would have been the estate’s signature bottling, the Domaine Dupasquier Roussette de Savoie "Marestel," which is particularly appealing in the recently-released 2008 vintage. Based on the late-harvesting Altesse grape (known regionally as Rousette) and sourced from extremely old vines grown over 450 meters above sea level, it represents just the sort of unctuous-yet-chiseled, viscous-yet-fresh, unequivocally “wintry” white that I'll admit I was originally craving.
Fortunately, I have a bottle of each waiting in the fridge as I type. Next time, I'll be sure to invite over some company (another proven cure for seasonal lethargy) and serve both wines together.