Where does it come from:
The origin of Altesse has been the subject of some debate. It has been suggested that it's identical to Furmint, the noble Hungarian variety used to make the great sweet wine Tokaij. However others suspect that it is indigenous to the hills of Savoie. Today there are fewer than 1,000 acres under cultivation, mostly in France, though there is a small quantity in Switzerland.
What's it like for the farmer:
Altesse needs gentle care, as it is quite to susceptible to the most common forms of grape rot.
Thierry Tissot, Mondeuse, "Mataret," Bugey, Savoie,
Distributor: T. Edward Wines, 66 W. Broadway, Suite 201,
New York, NY, 10007
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As we close out Mountain Wine Month at Blue Ribbon, we remain in France and head north from the Savoie to Bugey in the Jura Mountains. These alpine foothills produce some of the best-value wines in France, both red and white, sparkling and still, sweet and dry. Thierry Tissot is one of the emerging stars in this little-known region, farming hectares on a site known as "Mataret." Since tasting his wines for the first time two years ago, it's been clear to us that he has a natural affinity for the place and its indigenous varieties.
Thierry's family has been in Bugey for generations, farming, raising livestock and making some wine. But like many of the next-generation winemakers we have featured in this space, he had greater ambitions which focused on a site known as "Mataret." Like many of the great sites on this part of France, "Mataret" produced wines that were once lauded but had been abandoned to nature. Thierry purchased the site, cleared the brush, and then planted it anew with the white Altesse and red Mondeuse.
Mondeuse is a grape that exists in the same extended family with Syrah and behaves as such, producing sturdy, grippy reds with crunchy red and blue fruit character and a fresh snappy mouthfeel. They are elegant enough to drink on their own but with enough tannin to hold up to richer fare. Thierry's version, planted in the limestone- and shale-rich soils of the "Mataret" vineyard, has a mineral core that lends it depth and seriousness. This is excellent wine, that like its maker, has much greater aspirations than one might initially expect. Why don't you come down and have a glass or a couple of bottles this week?
Wine Director, Blue Ribbon Restaurants