Denis & Didier Berthollier 'La Coulee de Proserpine' Chignin Bergeron 2020
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Press 4 Mix / Press 4 White • May 2023 Direct Press Selection
Denis Berthollier always wanted to work in his family's vines, and when he started in earnest it was with an eye towards raising the bar. He did his internship work at Cheateau Beaucastel, one of the most famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape producers, and thought that Savoie should be looking to the nearby Rhône for inspiration, where many looked to Bordeaux. Back at his family's winery, his ambitions in the cellar had to take a back seat to improving the vineyards: cutting yields and reclaiming the steep sites that had historically produced the best wines. Luckily his brother Didier left his job as an engineer in Africa and came back to help with the vineyards in 1998, just before their father passed away. Today they have almost three hectares of crazy steep vines in addition to nine more hectares on gentler terrain. Everything is worked organically and sulfur additions are minimal.
It might be a surprise to some that Roussanne, known in Savoie as Bergeron, has a long history in the region, possibly back to the 11th century. I prefer Savoie Bergeron over Rhône Roussanne any day, and part of that is because the extra Alpine freshness adds a much needed lift to the variety. Along with Altesse, Bergeron is considered to be the Savoie's top white grape, and I would personally give the edge to Bergeron. This one from the Bertholliers is a fantastic example. Ripe golden currant notes are mixed with a grassy Alpine freshness, bruised pear, essential oil, ginger, and cooling eucalyptus. There is texture, depth, and impressive balance here that speaks to the high standards that Denis and Didier have been upholding. It's a versatile wine with endless pairing possibilities, but I also love wines like this as an aperitif: it would be an elegant way to kick things off. Jonathan Kemp