Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Mondeuse

When two friends visited me in Switzerland in August 2007, we immediately took a weekend trip to nearby France, driving from Geneva to the wine region of Savoie.  It is a little-known region, with many mountains and massifs (Albertville, host of the 1992 Winter Olympics, is in Savoie) and rare but wonderful wines.  The second place we visited was nothing more than a man's garage, where he stored the wine he produced and offered tastings.  He spoke French, we spoke English, and my own French was terrible (and still is), but I remember trying a red wine called Mondeuse that he said was "plus rustique", and that has stuck with me.  For some reason -- perhaps because of all the ancillary memories of visiting the beautiful valleys of Savoie -- I now have a fondness for Mondeuse, and try to have it whenever I notice it, which is not particularly often, since it primarily a grape grown in Savoie, and they are not a large producer by any definition.  The wine itself is deep and dark red, full-bodied, and like the man said, has a rustic taste and feel to it -- it is not refined like some red wines, but it is very enjoyable to drink.  I think it goes well with hard cheeses and meat dishes.

The second time I had Mondeuse was in Switzerland, in a restaurant in Lausanne.  They had a bottle of Mondeuse produced in nearby Mont-sur-Rolle, a really beautiful wine-growing town west of Lausanne, in the region called La Cote.  This particular bottle, produced by the Domaine de Maison Blanche, was blended with pinot noir (the most popular red wine grape in Switzerland), which mellows the flavors and makes it smoother in the mouth (don't put too much stock in this description, I don't know what I am talking about).  As an aside (and still letter M appropriate!), visiting Mont-sur-Rolle is highly recommended if you are going to be near Geneva, particularly during a special weekend called Caves Ouvertes ("open cellars"), where the producers open up their businesses (oftentimes their homes) and encourage people to come in and taste the newest vintage.

If you happen to see a bottle of Mondeuse (or red Vin de Savoie, it is likely made with this grape) wherever you are, give it a try.  And let me know where you found it :)

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