The words ‘picturesque’ and ‘scenic’ are used a lot when it comes to rural French villages and vineyard landscapes, but Saint Pierre d'Albigny — where talented young winemaker Matthieu Goury is based — takes the prize for being one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever had the fortune of visiting. It’s a tiny hamlet which looks as though it belongs in a fairytale, and the wines Matthieu is making there fill us with equal wonder.
He may only be at the beginning of his path, having completed his first vintage in just 2016, but his wines have already achieved fine wine status. These striking cuvées, almost Burgundian or Jura-like in style, are helping to further bring the joys of the Savoie wine region and its indigenous varieties to an international audience.
People: Matthieu Goury
Place: Savoie, France
Varieties: Mondeuse, Jacquère, Altesse, Mondeuse Blanche, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay
Farming: Organic with biodynamic aspects
Did You Know? Matthieu works with the incredibly rare Mondeuse Blanche variety, of which only around five hectares remain in the Savoie. From genetic analysis, we know that it is likely the child of Mondeuse Noir, and the mother of Syrah!
Winemaking here is very old-school, in the best possible way. In fact, when you walk into this cellar, it feels like the technological heyday of winemaking never occurred — nearly everything is made from wood, and most processes are done by hand. Instead of using a pump for his ‘pumpovers,’ for example (this is the process of moving liquid from the bottom of the tank to the top, to homogenise a ferment), he simply uses a watering can.
The wines are pressed in the most beautiful large ancient basket press we’ve seen, resulting in a very slow press cycle. This means that the juice see a lot of oxygen early on, and so is saturated almost immediately. Matthieu tells us this is how his grandfather worked, and that it’s particularly crucial for the white wines so that they do not oxidise later, giving wines that are more stable in the long run. This has now become a common technique in Burgundy to combat the phenomenon of ‘premox’ (when fine white wines oxidise too soon) and has been nicknamed ‘browning the juice.’ It might sound bizarre, but Matthieu explains that the juice only stays brown for a period of ten days or so, after which it becomes a glimmering white wine.
After the press, the juice is moved into foudres (for the Jacquère) or barrels (for the Altesse and Chardonnay) straightaway. Then, they are left untouched on the fine lees. Both the use of wood and the ‘leave it be’ approach is very important for his way of making wine. He emphasises,