Pierre Boniface Les Rocailles Apremont Vielles Vignes 2015
Excellent on its own, with simple fish dishes, and withtraditional specialties such as fondue and raclette.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Pierre Boniface wines are produced at Les Rocailles, a true earthly paradise nestled in the French Alps. When Pierre took over from his father he had a modest business, farming 20 acres and buying grapes from another 20 on handshake deals. Les Rocailles is now one of the biggest and best producers in Savoie, with nearly 50 acres owned and grapes purchased from nearly 60 more! Apremont is the signature wine, accounting for 70% of the production.
Growers like Pierre usually look forward to passing their domains on to their children, but in this case, it was just not meant to be. His daughter Miriam is a computer systems architect (who recently interrupted her doctoral studies to get an MBA from Wharton) and his son is literally a rocket scientist (with a PhD in ballistics, he now works on jet engine design for Pratt & Whitney). Pierre subsequently sold the business to Guillaume Durand and Alban Thouroude, two young men (born and bred in Savoie) with MBA’s from the University of Grenoble. All of the winery/vineyard staff has stayed on, and Pierre will continue to actively consult for 5 years.
Nearly synonymous with fine wine and all things epicurean, France has a culture of wine production and consumption that is deeply rooted in tradition. Many of the world’s most beloved grape varieties originated here, as did the concept of “terroir”—soil type, elevation, slope and mesoclimate combine to produce resulting wines that convey a sense of place. Accordingly, most French wine is labeled by geographical location, rather than grape variety. So a general understaning of which grapes correspond to which regions can be helpful in navigating all of the types of French wine. Some of the greatest wine regions in the world are here, including Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône and Champagne, but each part of the country has its own specialties and strengths.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the king and queen of Burgundy, producing elegant red and white wines with great acidity, the finest examples of which can age for decades. The same two grapes, along with Pinot Meunier, are used to make Champagne.
Of comparable renown is Bordeaux, focused on bold, structured red blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc including sometimes a small amount of Petit Verdot or Malbec. The primary white varieties of Bordeaux are Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Most of these grape varieties are planted throughout the country and beyond, extending their influence into other parts of Europe and New World appellations.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.