Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Wines of Seyssel

     On Wednesday we planned to go to the Seyssel wine region and try some of their wines. But first we drove to the weekly outdoor market in the town of Culoz, about 20 minutes from our gite. We picked up some vegetables from one vendor, and some cheese from another. Then we headed towards Seyssel.
Church in Culoz

     As I mentioned in an earlier post, Seyssel is one of the oldest Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wines, which, incidentally, is now Appellation d'Origine Protegee (AOP), in accordance with new EU rules. Seyssel is also a very small AOC, centered around the town of Seyssel and a few surrounding villages. The town of Seyssel itself is on both sides of the Rhone; one side is in the Ain departement, the other side is in the Savoie. I don't know whether most of the Seyssel vineyards are in the Ain or the Savoie departments, but almost all of the wineries are in the Ain. Our first stop was at Maison Gallice, in the village of Corbonod. We tried several of their Seyssel wines made from the Altesse grape, also known as Roussette, and bought one of them, as well as a sparkling Seyssel made from a blend of Altesse and Molette (Molette is a grape variety unique to this area). After leaving Maison Gallice, we stopped at Maison Mollex, also in Corbonod. Again, we bought a bottle of Seyssel Altesse, and a sparkling wine.

      We then drove across the Rhone from Seyssel Ain to Seyssel Savoie, and decided to head towards the town of Chanaz on the Canal du Rhone. As we were leaving Seyssel, we spied a sign for Cave Lambert, the producer of Royal Seyssel sparkling wines, and we decided to stop there. Although they make a couple of still wines, they specialize in sparkling Seyssel, and we tried several of them. They were absolutely outstanding, and after Madame Lambert poured them for us, her husband, Gerard Lambert, the winemaker, came over to talk to us. He told us a little about the history of Royal Seyssel, the name of which is derived from the fact that in the 1800's, several royal European families would visit nearby Aix les Bains and drink sparkling Seyssel wines. Gerard also discussed his winemaking philosophy and techniques, and told us that he had just obtained a US importer for his wines – Kermit Lynch. Which means we may be able to find his wines in the US within the next year. But meanwhile, we bought several bottles to drink now.

     Following our detour to Cave Lambert, we continued on to Chanaz, on the Canal du Rhone. The canal connects the Rhone with the Lac du Bourget, and Chanaz is a center for boat tours and rentals. We had a picnic lunch along the canal, then took a walk through the town. Among other things, Chanaz boasts an old mill which now produces oil from walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. Unfortunately, while we were there it was their closing time for lunch, so we never got to visit the mill.

Some Views of Chanaz

      After leaving Chanaz we continued to drive on the Savoie side of the Rhone. We were near the Mont du Chat (Cat Mountain), and decided to drive up the mountain towards the Dent du Chat (Cat's Teeth), presumably named that because the jagged ridges resemble teeth. Unfortunately, after driving part way up, the road was blocked off, so we had to turn around.  Eventually we crossed back over the Rhone to the Ain departement, and drove to the village of Vongnes, where the Caveau Bugiste is located. I had wanted to try some wines from the rare Mondeuse Blanche (white Mondeuse) grape, and the Caveau Bugiste, which is a small cooperative of 4 wine producers, is apparently the only Bugey producer making that wine. We tried (and bought) their varietal Mondeuse Blanche, as well as several other wines, and also bought a bottle of their Roussette.
Not on the Dent du Chat

      We then drove to the nearby nature reserve, the Marais de Lavours, which is right next to the Ferme du Marais, which we visited as part of de Ferme en Ferme last weekend. There's a boardwalk that runs through the reserve, and we walked it from start to finish. There were lots of birds singing, frogs croaking, and plenty of other animals that we couldn't see. After leaving the Marais we drove back to our gite for dinner. Ann made a tartiflette using Ghislaine's recipe from the other day, and we had one of the Seyssels that we bought earlier in the day.


  1. Foliage is good to see and of course, the cat. Hasn't reached 60 here and no greenery. Makes you want to hurry back?
    Enjoy your glorious trip.

  2. I think you've found the place where we need to buy a house: Cat Mountain! Could it be more perfect?

  3. Bob, I'm saving our last bottle of the 2010 Royal Seyssel for you to pick up on your next trip to the Wine Cask. What a coincidence that you and Ann chanced upon Cave Lambert just as we were down to our last bottle! Looking forward to living and eating through more of your posts. Thanks for taking the time to write them. Kim