Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal
Petit Royal is unequaled in the world of sparkling wine: alpine flowers, dried fruit, wildflower honey, and a toasty, yeasty note give this value sparkler an utterly delightful aromatic richness and complexity. Serve it with various salty toasts to kick off your next dinner party, or pop one open to liven up a night at home with a big bowl of mac and cheese.
The “Royal Seyssel” label, launched in 1901 by the Varichon and Clerc families, was considered the best sparkling Seyssel on the market. But when the operation was purchased in the 1990s by a Burgundian négociant, quality suffered, and in 2007 the owners closed the winery. Dismayed to see what their great local wine had come to, Gérard and Catherine Lambert teamed up with Olivier Varichon to buy back the Royal Seyssel label and recreate the wine that was once so renowned. The wines of Seyssel indulge in the same traditional methods used for Champagne, and take it a step further by aging for at least three years before disgorgement.
Tucked up into the sheltered foothills of the Alps where conditions vary considerably from one spot to the next, the vineyards of Savoie are widely dispersed within three main growing districts. These are Seyssel, Bugey and general Savoie. Within these are 16 different cru vineyard areas.
The region boasts a large number of unique indigenous grapes, incidentally unrelated to any nearby regions’ varieties. The styles here tend toward organic and traditional. In the past, the dynamic summer and winter tourist population consumed most Savoie wine before it could leave the area but the recent interest in esoteric varieties and natural, artisan wine has brought a renewed interest to Savoie.
In Savoie's most northern vineyards near Lake Geneva, the Chasselas grape dominates. Moving south, the white grape known as Altesse (also sometimes called Roussette) is responsible for Roussette de Savoie as well as Roussette de Seyssel.
Just north of Chambéry the white, Jacquère grows in the cru of Jongieux, along with Altesse, and Chardonnay. In the cru of Chautagne, the red grapes Gamay, Pinot Noir, and, especially, the local Mondeuse do well.
Chambéry, once famous for its vermouth, contains the crus of Abymes, Apremont, Arbin, Chignin and Cruet.
A term typically reserved for Champagne and Sparkling Wines, non-vintage or simply “NV” on a label indicates a blend of finished wines from different vintages (years of harvest). To make non-vintage Champagne, typically the current year’s harvest (in other words, the current vintage) forms the base of the blend. Finished wines from previous years, called “vins de reserve” are blended in at approximately 10-50% of the total volume in order to achieve the flavor, complexity, body and acidity for the desired house style. A tiny proportion of Champagnes are made from a single vintage.
There are also some very large production still wines that may not claim one particular vintage. This would be at the discretion of the winemaker’s goals for character of the final wine.